Seitan’s: featuring Chef Neil Royale
Learn more about the chef behind Seitan's, Neil Royale. How he got into cooking, what his favorite dish is, and more.
A lot of times I get inspiration from people creating something that's a meat-based dish, and then I just think, ‘Oh! That would be very nice to try to ‘veganize’’. I find those dishes become very popular.
Chef Neil Royale of Seitan’s grew up having pizza nights every Friday at home with his family and fell in love with cooking… especially pizzas. Royale was born and raised as a vegetarian and wanted to bring that part of his identity into everything he cooks. “Not cooking with meat is something I've always wanted to be able to do,” Royale says.
Seitan is a plant-based meat alternative product made from wheat. “Basically, it’s when you take flour, and you wash it, you get the gluten, which is the protein of the flour,” Royale says. So, by taking that concept and playing with the word, Seitan’s emerged. Royale says his Persian cat is the mascot for the restaurant and even has little devil horns.
Royale describes the dishes at Seitan’s as gourmet plant-based food, with their specialties being sourdough pizza, fried “chicken” wings, and Louisiana style po’boys. “I’ve really been able to concentrate on my recipes and I feel like it's a better product now that we're doing sourdough pizza,” he says. “It has more depth of flavour.”
One of the most popular dishes at Seitan’s is the wings. “We make our own satanic wings, and they get tossed in a sauce of your choice and it comes with a dip as well,” Royale says. Although the wings are a hit, Royale says the buffalo chicken pizza is also a customer favourite. “Whenever I work, I always want to be on the pizza station,” Royale says.
Royale gets his inspiration primarily from his wife, who’s an omnivore. “She’s the one who gave me the idea for the buffalo chicken pizza,” Royale says. Along with the buffalo chicken pizza, Royale’s wife inspires him to make a lot of the popular dishes at Seitan’s. “When I ‘veganize’ dishes that are, for example, like wings or things that people are just missing, I find those dishes become very popular,” Royale says. “A lot of times I get inspiration from people creating something that's a meat-based dish, and then I just think, ‘Oh! That would be very nice to try to ‘veganize,’’” he says.
Working at the 5th St. Food Hall gives Royale the opportunity to be inspired by the other chefs in the kitchen. “Even though my food is vegan, and their food isn't, the ideas that other chefs are coming up with are inspirational and there’s a kind of camaraderie between all of us,” Royale says.
Royale is looking forward to enjoying the benefits of the location at the 5th St. Food Hall when students return to in-person learning and employees are back in their offices. “We see a little bit of business from Rogers Place when there are hockey games, but we haven't really got the benefit yet just because of the pandemic,” Royale says.