My uncle Tony had a place, my Uncle Rocco had a place and my Dad Francesco did, too. As a first generation Italian-American, most of my recipes are adapted from the classic Calabrese (Southern Italian) cuisine I learned to make as a kid by watching my parents, Frank and Gina, as well as my many aunts and uncles who've been making bread for decades, but in October 2008, I decided to make a radical change and go vegan...
So, I joined a group of artisans— a chocolatier, a “pasta man”, a “soup lady” and a “kombucha guy”. We shared a space in downtown Santa Barbara and I invited the public to try my foods. To my delight my culinary creations were well received, and famed vegan blogger, Quarrygirl, went as far as calling my SCHMICKEN her “new favorite product” saying it was “better than the mass produced corporate vegan meats on the market”.
Vegan Mario’s is an 100% vegan & gluten-free facility. We use strictly certified organic ingredients aside from some pesticide free and wild crafted produce from local farmers we know personally. We also use our own backyard hydroponic produce.
I did my darnedest to buy MADE IN THE USA products for this kitchen and I've been thoughtful and conscious about every purchase decision. For health and environmental reasons, our food packaging is plastic-free whenever possible. Even biobased plastics from corn or pea starch leach chemicals. We just can’t have you eating chemicals.
In fact, absolutely no toxic substances were used in the construction process of the Vegan Mario’s building. I designed the building with the idea of using sustainable, non-toxic and recycled materials from the get go. Although I work as a chef, I have a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute. I submitted all the plans for this building, and navigated the murky waters of “the county” approvals process.
Thanks to a fortunate collaboration with Mark Schulbach of Schulbach Builders, my vision for a “green” kitchen was realized. We have reused many of the original bricks around the property and the wood used to make the pizza bar, benches and table tops all came from the original building. The roof is made of recycled plastic, our lights are all energy-efficient LED, and there’s NO VOC paint on the walls.
Whether you are eating vegan foods for health reasons,
because you believe animals have the right to peacefully co-exist with us,
or simply to do your part to protect the planet,
I’m so glad you’re here.
Or maybe you just like tasty food!
I like that reason too.
A special thanks to my Parents and Italian ancestry, Sandra Congdon, M.D., James Congdon, Schulbach Builders and M.P. without whom Vegan Mario’s would not have been possible.