Vegan BBQ and Soul Meals Restaurant Vegan Mob opens everlasting location in Oakland Kwik Means Area
Toriano Gordon has combined his talents as a rapper, social media entertainer and chef in Vegan mob, a plant-based grill and soul food popup that he launched this spring. Vegan Mob’s first day as a permanent restaurant in Oakland is tomorrow, Saturday October 5th and you can be sure that Gordon will keep all of his fans up to date on his popular Instagram account.
“I build my hip-hop energy into Vegan Mob and it helps him stand out,” said Gordon, who started the business with a free gumbo giveaway in a Safeway in Oakland’s Dimond District and received encouraging feedback. Gordon’s boundless energy also helps set the Vegan Mob food apart from the rest of the vegan pack. For him, avoiding meat does not mean avoiding fun: “I like to entertain and I like to cook – I want people to enjoy it.”
While Gordon himself is a native San Franciscan who was born and raised in the Fillmore, he’s excited about his new dig in Oakland. The spot is at 500 Lake Park Avenue, the former location of the Grand Lake landmark, Kwik Way Drive-In, and most recently the temporary home of Merritt Bakery. The property is slated for development at some point, but the Vegan Mob lease will be for at least 18 months. And Gordon made the room his own and decorated the front with the Vegan Mob logo in green and white. A mural on the side pays homage to Jacka, the East Bay rapper (and friend of Gordon’s), who was killed in 2015.
Two years ago, Gordon switched to a vegetarian and then a vegan diet for health reasons. “I value my life,” says Gordon – and good food makes him feel healthier than ever.
Toriano Gordon in front of his new permanent location Vegan MobVegan Mob
Vegan Mob’s recipes are adaptations of classics like Mac-and-Cheese and Po ‘Boys passed down from family members like Gordon’s Texas-born grandmother who opened a coffee shop at Fillmore in the 1960s, and others like his grandfather at his stepfather’s were site that owned Rue Lepic and Nob Hill Cafe in SF. Cooking vegan is easy, says Gordon: just replace the animal products. In his gumbo, for example, Gordon swaps in plant-based shrimp and adds seaweed for a fuller flavor and faux bacon for a bit of smoke.
Some Vegan Mob products contain Impossible Foods meat, such as Gordon’s Tacos from Impossible Mob, and others use plant-based “brisket” from GW Chew, the Oakland food company behind the Veg Hub. Gordon mentors Chew and others like Evan Kidera, a childhood friend of SF who founded Señor Sisig.
While vegan food was a personal journey for Gordon, it’s something he pursues with the wider community in mind. “In America we suffer from a lot of things that other countries don’t, and in my culture in the African American community we suffer from cancer, heart disease … Some people say it is hereditary, but what is hereditary is eating,” says Gordon. With exciting vegan versions of popular foods, Gordon believes he can help change these patterns.
“I want to educate people. I spread health and wealth through my food. I spread positive energy. “
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