If you'd told me a few months ago that a vegan diet could include eggs Benedict, KFC and burgers, I wouldn't have believed you. Enter Candice Hutchings, creator of the successful vegan food blog and Youtube channel The Edgy Veg, whose innovative recipes more than prove me wrong.

I caught up with Candice at Buffer Festival, an annual showcase of Youtube video premieres where she was a featured creator. Before rocking the red carpet, Candice sat down to discuss pizza, her creative process, and why revolutionizing food is so important.

cake, coffee
Rose Ferrao

Spoon: When did you get the inspiration to start The Edgy Veg?

CH: I went vegan about seven years ago, and there wasn't really anything out there. There were a couple of Youtube videos, but not really. There were blogs, but they were all raw food and I'm a foodie. I like junk food.

I started a blog first, just making really good recipes. When the whole Youtube video thing started, I saw that people were doing the recipes online and I thought, "I could do that!"

It was really awkward at first. No one should ever see my first videos, but it just kind of blossomed from there.

Spoon: You have "Will It Vegan?" videos showing vegan ways to make popular fast foods. What's the process that goes into transforming a recipe?

CH: I see what's trending or I go to my audience and see what fast food item you guys want to see next. I get the item, look up what's in the item itself, and just kind of dissect it and go from there. I use a lot of inspiration from meat-based recipes to get the flavour profile and the techniques, and I just use the same flavour profile and techniques to create the vegan versions.

I've been doing it for so long now that I just know what the substitutions are. Then I have my fiancé, who's now vegan but wasn't before—he was the carnivore in "carnivore-approved." Him and his friends try all the food, so it's multiple rounds of recipe testing and big men in our kitchen trying all the junk food. As soon as they're like, "Nailed it! it tastes exactly like Taco Bell" then we film it.

pizza, coffee, beer, wine
Rose Ferrao

Spoon: You talk a lot about "revolutionizing" the way people see vegan food. Why do you think it's important to share how food can be revolutionized and changed?

CH: We have this negative stereotype of frail, pale, angry vegans that eat millet and kale. It's not relatable, and people are like, "That's a ridiculous lifestyle. I could never do that." 

For me, it's really important to put relatable foods that you recognize and that you have this nostalgic, emotional attachment to. Food is emotional, food is socializing, so that's the most important for me. To say, "This looks the exact same, tastes the exact same, and no animals were harmed." That's amazing.

The huge food revolution for me is to really break through that stereotype. Yes, there are angry, militant vegans out there, but then there are people like me who are like, "I don't not like meat, I just don't like the practice."

Spoon: You're having breakfast, lunch, and dinner on your dream food day. What would those meals look like?

CH: My favourite breakfast is a vegan eggs Benedict that I do which is incredible. I would do the eggs Benedict, but then I'd also have a mini breakfast burrito because I can't choose between the two. They're both my favourite.

For lunch, I love burgers. I would have a big loaded burger with an onion ring on there, vegan cheese, really sloppy. Like, when I bite into it, half the sauce falls out the back.

For dinner, I went to a two or three star Michelin restaurant in Spain during the union strike and nobody was out. I ended up getting this incredible reservation. There was nobody in the restaurant, and they made a thirteen-course vegan meal. It was the most crazy, experimental food I've ever had. You would bite into it and it would just burst with flavour. I would do that for dinner again. With wine pairings, so by the end of it you're just like, "I don't even know what I'm eating anymore."

chocolate
Rose Ferrao

Spoon: You went to Saint Lawrence College in Kingston, where the Queen's University chapter of Spoon is located. Do you have any Kingston food recommendations?

CH: There isn't a lot of vegan food in Kingston! Before I was vegan, and very late at night, we would go to Bubba's Poutine. That's probably the fondest food memory of Kingston. Actually, no—Woodenheads. Here's the key: the pesto chicken pizza without the chicken and without the honey is still bomb and vegan.

tea, wine, beer, coffee
Rose Ferrao

Thank you so much to Candice for taking the time to sit down and chat with us!

Make sure to head over to The Edgy Veg's website and follow Candice on Youtube, Instagram and Twitter for more of her incredible vegan recipes.