The distance between architect and chef isn’t a long stretch if you think about it. Both require creativity, planning, attention to detail and an appreciation for beauty. Although Vancouver chef Lovena Galyide began her career as an architect in the Ukraine, today she’s no longer designing buildings. Instead, she’s become an architect of food, building delicious vegan dishes.
Her journey to top vegan chef happened organically when she moved to Vancouver and began taking yoga and meditation classes. There she was introduced to a vegan diet and liked the concept right away.
“I actually became a raw vegan really fast,” Galyide explains. “And I’ve always enjoyed cooking but never thought I’d be a chef,” she laughs, during a busy day at Indigo Age Café, the vegan restaurant she owns and operates in Vancouver. “My career as a chef began years ago when I started teaching classes to inspire people to eat healthy, vegan food. I would get so excited about food.”
“One of my students suggested I start selling some of my cooking so I began doing deliveries. Then I opened my kitchen a couple days a week for food sales.”
Galyide’s vegan dishes with a Ukrainian flair were hugely popular and she left her career as an architect to pursue her love of food. Nine years ago she opened Indigo Age Café.
“When I started the restaurant it was based on raw vegan food but there was a lot of demand for hot food so I added things like vegan cabbage rolls and borscht.”
“Being a vegan chef means being creative,” Galyide explains. “You have to consider different ingredients, make different recipes and then have plates that are really beautiful. When you do it all the time, you’re learning all the time. The main thing is that it has to be healthy. We use ingredients that are in season and buy fresh from local farms – small ones. It’s important to support small businesses.”
After nine years of running her café, Galyide is ready for a better life balance.
“When you’re the only chef you can’t go on vacation or even take a day off. I wasn’t able to keep up with my yoga or meditation practice and realized I needed to step back, hire more staff and have some time for myself.”
Today Galyide manages a staff of five with several Mexican chefs who are adding to the international flavour of the café menu, which includes Indian and Ukrainian influences.
Although she’s spending less time in the restaurant, she hasn’t stopped teaching. Currently Galyide offers classes through Airbnb Experiences and at the café. She also caters.
Despite having the ability to cook at a high level, Galyide’s favourite vegan dish is a simple green salad. And one of her favourite ingredients to cook with is avocado.
“Avocados are so versatile, they can be used in ice cream, cake, salads – really it’s endless.”
Galyide has been a trailblazer in the development of plant-based cuisine in Vancouver. And now, with her café firmly ensconced as a landmark on the vegan scene, she’s ready to step back and breathe before continuing her inspirational journey.