Story | Lisa Nicita
Photography | Mark Lipczynski
Erin Romanoff can turn cashews into cheese. Tasty cheese, at that.
While she’s no magician, she is finding some type of magical success in making vegetarian and vegan food that is both scrumptious and adventurous, while at the same time using locally-grown, organic ingredients whenever possible.
Her culinary wizardry is confirmed by her in-home audience: twin 10-year-old boys and a gluten-free, vegan husband, whose preferences and dietary needs at once challenge and inspire her.
“We’re kind of obsessed with cashews right now,” Romanoff says, admitting that making vegan cashew cheese isn’t all that difficult. “I’ll make it into a pesto cashew cheese. It can be a sauce or firm, spreadable cheese. My kids love it and are addicted to it.”
Romanoff, who owns the Chandler-based food truck The Uprooted Kitchen, has followed a vegetarian diet for years and decided about two years ago to take that lifestyle on the road. Romanoff and her husband Chad, a pediatric occupational therapist, purchased a 1968 Avion, polished off its in-progress renovation leftover from the previous owner, and started bringing healthy, vegetarian and vegan options to East Valley residents.
The menu for The Uprooted Kitchen is incredibly diverse, featuring salads such as kale quinoa with sesame soy dressing, and lentil curry topped with lemon vinaigrette. Vegan scones and waffles grace the breakfast menu, while veggie burgers, hummus platters and tacos hold down the dinner options.
“I get so bored of using the same flavors or using the same things,” Romanoff says. “We’re constantly changing. I love that versatility. I would be really bored if I had the same menu all the time and couldn’t change the ethnicity of the flavors.”
The Uprooted Kitchen sources hyper-local, at the Farm at Agritopia and the Queen Creek Olive Mill, ensuring the use of organic, fresh and high-quality ingredients. Find them Wednesday nights at the Agritopia Farmers Market in Gilbert, and Saturdays at the downtown Gilbert Farmers Market.
The Romanoffs admit they’re pretty picky about what they eat. And so are their kids, who recently announced—in a very serious way—their intentions to become vegetarians.
A commitment, Romanoff says with a chuckle, might be tough for one of her burger-loving tweens.