Written by Emily Glaser
Gwendolyn Hageman of Asheville’s Darë Vegan Is Changing the Cheese Alternative Landscape
Creamy, crystallized, rich, sometimes rank, there is nothing quite like cheese. That, Gwendolyn Hageman points out, is exactly the problem that plagues many would-be vegans. “Like many people moving into a plant-based lifestyle, cheese is the last hurdle, and I was always so disappointed by the non-dairy options on the market,” she recalls.
It’s not necessarily a quandary Hageman has always faced. She entered the Asheville food scene back in 2013, already armed with kitchen know-how gleaned from her chef father. By 2016, she had worked her way from line cook to sous chef to running the kitchen at Salvage Station. There she oversaw a notoriously meaty menu and competed in—and won—the WNC Burger Battle in 2017. While the position took her skills to new heights, and even to the World Food Championships, Hageman says, “My greatest joy was making something new and fun from our meat-centric menu for my favorite vegan employee.”
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