After spending 25 years within the catering trade together with her enterprise Earth Angel Organics, serving everybody from raft information firms to marriage ceremony visitors to non-public chef occasions, Meg Blakney observed an rising variety of requests from clients with meals restrictions.

Between the excessive demand for plant-based meals and the pandemic, which decimated catering occasions final yr, Meg and her husband Tom determined to retire from catering and open Dan d’Lion, a vegan restaurant in Hungry Horse.

“We determined to be a little bit off-the-beaten path and we determined to be all vegan, gluten-free and 95% natural,” Blakney stated.

Though the situation won’t be apparent for a plant-based restaurant, Meg says she usually sees automobiles making U-turns on the freeway, and the eatery is well-liked amongst each vacationers and locals.

“We had been simply shocked,” Blakney stated. “We thought we knew the demographic of who could be drawn to this type of meals. We had been thus far off.”

The Blakneys anticipated youthful clients of their 20s and 30s, however they usually serve retired individuals, athletes and plenty of professionals in each the standard and nontraditional medical fields.

Although their catering enterprise wasn’t vegan, the Blakneys wished to create meals that was protected for everybody and make it simpler to keep away from contamination the an all-vegan restaurant.

Founders of the Dan d’Lion vegan restaurant Tom and Meg Blakney in Hungry Horse on August 6, 2021. JP Edge | Flathead Beacon

With a imaginative and prescient to create “crave-able” vegan dishes, Blakney calls each new recipe a science truthful venture, and says it takes loads of experimentation and distinctive spice blends and elements to make mouth-watering vegan recipes.

All through faculty, Blakney labored for Campbell’s Soup doing lab testing for V8 Juice and did internships within the labs of Experimental Meals, the place she labored on initiatives like texture palatability and quantity of angel meals truffles.

“You simply tweak one ingredient at a time,” Blakney stated. “Generally it’s introducing a brand new ingredient and typically it’s extracting an ingredient, and that’s are available very useful making cheese right here as a result of it’s a complete completely different world.”

By way of Blakney’s experiments, she’s found {that a} mixture of hazelnut and coconut base, together with extra elements like tapioca, starch and completely different seasonings, creates the very best vegan cheese for her pizzas.

Documenting all the things all through the method, Blakney takes elaborate notes and conducts blind tastings together with her staff who charge every recipe.

Blakney has perfected the favored Montana Sapphire Pizza, which is a vegan model of a Greek pizza with roasted garlic, peppers, tomatoes, olives and tofu feta cheese.

Most of the greens come from their half-acre backyard the place they develop produce, together with heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, collards, beets and edible flowers, sometimes planning the menu round what was not too long ago harvested.

Utilizing a novel mix of spices, Blakney says the flavors shock a lot of her clients. Within the Lebanese backyard hash, she provides potatoes and greens seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, coriander and turmeric.

The Dan d’Lion vegan restaurant in Hungry Horse on August 6, 2021. JP Edge | Flathead Beacon

“We similar to to pizzazz all the things with a number of flavors,” she stated.

Lots of her sauces are additionally made with all kinds of elements and can be utilized on each savory and candy dishes, just like the Glacier Dew sauce made out of native Glacier Distilling Firm whiskey and the rhubarb ginger sauce, which she initially used on salmon and pork and is now used on tarts.

“It has an actual good zing to it,” Blakney stated.

Considered one of Dan d’Lion’s hottest desserts is the huckleberry shake, which makes use of a hazelnut butter, coconut milk and date base. These are the identical elements for Blakney’s espresso creamer, which she’s engaged on promoting to retailers.

Blakney has been taking lessons over the previous decade to get her manufacturing license by way of the state, and she or he plans to bundle gadgets like espresso creamers, buns and different recipes to promote to different eating places and grocery shops.

Dan d’Lion is open Wednesday by way of Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hours might be diminished within the winter months.

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