Meet Your Chef: Lauren Ridout of Slapped Woodfired Pizza
Get to know your local Vail Valley chefs
Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is showcasing area chefs in a new series called “Meet Your Chef” so you can learn a bit more about those creating art in the kitchen. If you’re a local chef and would like to be a part of this series, please email Tricia Swenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sean Naylor (email@example.com).
Q: What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?
A: My name is Lauren Ridout, owner/chef at Slapped Woodfired Pizza at Agora in Minturn.
Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
A: I arrived June 1. My good friend Larry Stone, owner of the Scarab and Helen’s House in downtown Minturn, donated his side yard during the pandemic to the community so people would have a place to dine outside. With the help of some friends they created a funky, outdoor eating area filled with tables and chairs, toys for kids and quirky art. A year later, he added an outdoor kitchen inside the space. We were both very curious to see how a plant-based food operation would fare in the highlands and so after many conversations, we decided to bring out myself and my pizza concept from San Diego.
Support Local Journalism
Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
A: I’ve always loved cooking! Both of my parents welcomed my brother and I into the kitchen at such a young age. It’s just always felt very natural to me. Becoming a chef happened quite serendipitously. Shortly after I turned vegan, I started meal prepping for myself because I was so busy and didn’t have many opportunities to eat healthy, plant-based meals. My neighbors and friends jumped on board and soon it turned into a thriving business. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to work for myself and be in a creative space every day.
Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
A: When I was in my early 20s I was obsessed with the Food Network. I got a lot of inspiration from Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentis at that time. After going vegetarian in 2011 and vegan in 2017, I really went backwards in time to find inspiration. Cooking became like a fun game. I deconstructed all my favorite recipes and put the ingredients back together like building blocks to recreate similar flavor profiles. I believe some of the best chefs in the world have a strong veggie game and I really look up to Chef Bryant Terry, Gaz Oakley and Miyoko Schinner to name a few.
Q: What’s your favorite spice?
A: Fennel seed – I could use it in almost everything!
Q: Favorite protein?
A: Tofu – This clean and complete plant-based protein is super versatile. I love that it takes on the flavor of any seasoning and can have so many different textures and uses.
Q: Favorite fruits and veggies?
A: Guanabana (soursop) is my favorite fruit. That’s the name of it in Costa Rica, but it has other names depending on the country you’re in. The flavor is super interesting…sweet, tangy, tropical, buttery. My favorite vegetables are tomatoes. I couldn’t live without them!
Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?
A: Quinoa! It’s so healthy, versatile and about the only carb I don’t feel guilty about after eating.
Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: My favorite comfort food is a big ol’ Cali-style burrito. Being plant-based, my perfect burrito is stuffed with refried beans, French fries, guacamole, extra pico de gallo, fajita veggies and lettuce…don’t forget hot sauce!
Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?
A: While my current gig is plant-based pizza in Minturn through October, I’m always looking for new outlets for my passion. I love cooking in all capacities; wellness retreats, catering, outreach, in-home, consulting, etc. For more info about me visit PlantitudeSD.com.