A vegan renaissance has taken hold in Calgary making the NW home to a growing treasure of restaurant alternatives. The upcoming addition is U/D retailer Copper Branch, offering its plant-based, sustainable power food into the mainstream. And our residents and neighbours couldn’t be more excited!
We met with Nicholas Roberson, head chef for the Montreal-based company, to get the inside scoop about its chef-inspired, 100% vegan menu. The company has been whipping up made-to-order, quick-serve meals to customers across Canada since 2014.
“We’re proud to be part of a movement that’s revolutionizing dining by leaving meat off the menu,” says Nicholas. “There’s a treasure trove of alternatives such as nuts, seeds, grains, beans and legumes that are just as substantial and satisfying as meat.”
Whatever you choose – pasta, sandwich, salad, smoothie, soup – fresh, healthy and high quality is the Copper Branch customer guarantee. We’re excited to get the skinny on what we can expect to experience with their future location, along with some tips and even a recipe recommendation for those excited by the idea of dabbling in plant-based cuisine!
The goal at Copper Branch is to empower, energize and make people feel their best with dishes that celebrate the ingredients in style. So when it comes to developing new dishes, chef Nicholas and his research and development team spend months perfecting great tasting menu items that blend classic culinary techniques with fresh, local products.
A UK native, Nicholas was drawn to the culinary world at an early age, finding inspiration in his mother’s passion for cooking and sharing food with others. Nicholas quickly ascended to various kitchen roles before embarking on a worldwide culinary adventure for over a decade.
Now as head chef of Copper Branch, he’s bringing his love for great flavours and wholesome ingredients to the menu. And you can tell!
“When you dine at Copper Branch, you don’t feel like you’ve settled for a vegan fast-service restaurant – you feel like you just chose a delicious one,” he notes.
The Zucchini Noodle Coppernata holds its own with its wonderfully pleasing sweet and sour flavour profile, and dishes like the Thai Basil Pina Colada Smoothie and Chico Salad leave you completely satisfied.
But the fan favourite, the Copper Burger, can’t be beat with its beet-based patty — a slight crunch from the brown rice and sunflower seeds, a subtle sweetness from caramelized onions, and a hint of spiciness from the mustard. It’s no wonder it’s one of their best selling dishes!
With three locations already in Calgary, University District will be home to its fourth.
Nicholas says, “Finding the right partner was important. University District, with its vision for vitality and a love for local, has us excited to be part of such a vibrant retail community. We can’t wait to help change the way Northwest Calgarians think about and eat plant-based foods.”
Nicholas knows a thing or two about hearty and delicious vegan meals and he was willing to share some tips and recommendations that will have you savouring every last bite!
Simple doesn’t always mean boring when it comes to great food. Beyond bright colours and fresh flavours, the beauty of vegan food or any well-prepared meal lies in its simplicity. The secret to bringing out those amazing flavour? Focus on the ingredient! Whether it’s from your own backyard, urban garden, or the nearby farmers market at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Centre, there’s nothing quite like the taste of freshly harvested veggies and fruit. Berries are more intense, kale more tender, tomatoes sexier, and squash sweeter!
Tip: Buy fresh ingredients at the height of their season for maximum flavour and prepare them in a way that lets them speak for themselves.
A splash of smoked paprika, a dash of lemon zest, a sprinkle of cinnamon! When combined correctly, spices make for some incredible flavours that can add life to even the most mild-mannered vegan dish. If you’re looking to elevate your cooking (vegan or not), don’t shy away from your spice rack. Instead let the flavours of your ingredients shine through with the use of herbs and spices to transform ordinary recipes into exciting culinary experiences.
Tip: Top your dish off with a dab of olive oil — from hummus and pasta, to even cakes. A touch of olive oil can really bring out the flavours of a dish.
Each stage of the culinary experience is wonderful but for many, cooking a vegan meal from scratch can be an intimidating affair. Be not afraid! Whether you’re cooking for one or for the whole family, it’s simpler than you think. Find your recipe, be prepared in advance and get to know your ingredients. If you love curry, make sure you have the right spice mix. If you’re craving a rich risotto with pumpkin, get a good quality pumpkin and add butternut squash for texture and flavour.
Be bold and try something new. You might just discover a whole new world out there, where spices are abundant and things like soybean curd can be delicious.
Tip: If you’re in need of some inspiration or are seeking to embark on a personal culinary adventure, consider taking a class at Chateau et Cuisine in NW Calgary. French, Thai, bread-making classes – there’s plenty of mouth-watering options to choose from.
The creamy combination of sweet mangoes, tangy yogurt, followed by the lingering sweetness of matcha is University District favourite! This Indian inspired concoction is an exotic, vegan spin on a timeless classic that’s utterly refreshing. It’s a match(a) made in heaven!
Thin it out as a smoothie to kick-start your morning routine or pair it with some richly spiced Indian food like Channa Masala or Aloo Gobi. However you prefer it, it’s incredibly simple to make and oh-so-satisfying. Let’s take a look!
Step 1: Collect your wet ingredients
Firstly, in a blender combine your mango (fresh, pulp or frozen) with your wet ingredients: ice cubes, vanilla, soy milk and maple syrup. If using fresh mango, find a ripe, sweet mango for optimal flavour.
Step 2: Round up your dry ingredients
Add your dry ingredients to the blender. These include cinnamon, turmeric, hemp seeds and matcha powder.
Step 3: Blend together
Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve. Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon for a hint of spice and lemon zest to brighten the drink.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Yields: A 16oz smoothie
Whether you’re dipping your toes in a vegan lifestyle, going all in, or are simply looking to expand your culinary repertoire, there’s no better time to jump into a new era of dining!
Have a vegetarian or vegan recipe of your own to share? Have a Northwest vegan eatery that’s rising through the culinary ranks that we should visit? Share your suggestions with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and inspiration about the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.