We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series. David Lee created Field Roast to blend the European tradition of charcuterie with the Chinese Mien Ching tradition of using grains as a vegetarian protein. These grain-based vegetarian sausages, deli slices, roasts, loaves, breaded cutlets and frankfurters have flavors and textures so convincing, even die-hard meat lovers often think they’re eating the real thing.
David began his career as a restaurant cook at age 18, and after honing his culinary skills he decided to apply them to something with a humanitarian focus.
“I didn’t want to work in a fancy restaurant. I wanted to provide food that elevates the everyday eating experience,” David says.
At age 28, David established a Seattle-based nonprofit called FareStart to provide meals and job training for the homeless, which was honored with the James Beard award for "Humanitarian of the Year” in 2011. David and his brother, Richard, established Field Roast in 1997, and the company has since grown to nearly 50 employees, including David’s two sons, Malcolm and Ian.
Field Roast began with three original gourmet “grain meat” loaves, and Whole Foods Market® was one of the very first customers. Their Celebration Roast, stuffed with butternut squash, mushrooms, apples and spices, is still a customer favorite. In 2005, Field Roast also introduced award-winning Grain Meat Sausages, and in 2011 their Vegetarian Frankfurters were so well received, they began appearing on menus at major ballparks, including those in Seattle, Cleveland and San Francisco.
“We’re all about flavor first at Field Roast,” David says. “We use fresh vegetables along with lemon juice, red wine from a local winery or organic apple cider vinegar. Then we add spice blends made from herbs and seasonings. We don’t use anything artificial or complicated. Everything is produced using the simple tenets of good cooking that you would follow to make a nice meal at home.”
Which Field Roast product is your favorite and how do you prepare it?