Feature

The vegetarian butcher

Green Lifestyle magazine

When you order a kilo of snags at Suzy Spoon’s butcher shop you may get something you didn’t quite expect.

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Suzy Spoon loves a chat with her customers.

Credit: SUZY SPOON, JOSHUA MORRIS

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Spoon’s homemade bolognese ready for the masses of fans.

Credit: SUZY SPOON, JOSHUA MORRIS

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Seitan ‘chicken’ pieces cooked in sauce with rice.

Credit: SUZY SPOON, JOSHUA MORRIS

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Who would have thought F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby would have led to a vegetarian butcher opening shop in Sydney? Vegan cook Suzy Spoon had the opportunity to create vegetarian delights for cast member Tobey Maguire during the making of the latest movie version of the classic novel, providing the inspiration for her business Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher.

Although Spoon had experimented with meat alternatives for years, constant compliments from the vegan actor were enough to set her on a new venture. A self-proclaimed ‘purveyor of fine faux meats’, the butcher now supplies healthy, mouth-watering sausages, schnitzels, bolognese and seitan for non-meat and meat eaters far and wide.

Rest assured, this butcher is like no other: there are no animals involved. Instead, a combination of vegetables, legumes and many other yummy natural ingredients are skilfully crafted into non-meaty goodness.
Spoon has long been concerned with the limited availability of meat alternatives. “Being vegetarian seems like a really healthy way to eat but when I take a look at the quick and easy protein-based foods for vegetarians in the supermarket they all look so processed and factory-formed,” she says. “It makes me wonder what they are made of and I’ve never heard of half the ingredients on the packets.”

Instead, her butcher shop provides nutritious, vegan, high protein meat alternatives made from ingredients such as tofu, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs, with no preservatives or strange additives. And did we mention that they’re tasty? One bite of Spoon’s polenta sausages is enough to convince any herbivore sceptic!
In fact, the business name confuses many unsuspecting customers. “When we first opened, a lot of people would come in to see what on Earth a vegetarian butcher sells,” she recalls. “Some people have come in expecting to buy meat that is all vegetarian animals. And others have expected a normal butcher shop run by vegetarian butchers.”

However, since starting her first vegetarian burger business in the 1990s she has seen “a slow steady acceptance of vegetarian and vegan cuisine in the food industry and in the general community”. She puts it down to the MasterChef TV shows and the Internet. “It puts information at people’s fingertips now and people are growing more aware of all kinds of issues.”

Visiting her shop in Newtown, Sydney is a similar experience to going to any other local store, with Spoon and her team enthusiastically recommending recipes and casually catching up with many eager customers – including some from as far away as Queensland or the Northern Territory.

Spoon relishes her long chats with customers, which helps her invent new ways of cooking. However, she ensures she maintains balance in her life. “When I’m not in the kitchen I enjoy swimming, gardening and walking my dog,” she says. “I guess I like time at home with my partner and our Beagle friend better than anything.”

With Spoon’s products available online , as well as through their storefront in Newtown, we can thank Tobey Maguire for inspiring this talented chef to share her delectable goodies.

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Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher has recently moved into a new store at 22–24 King St, Newtown in Sydney, NSW.