Move over, Abe Froman, there’s a new sausage king of Chicago. A vegan one at that!
Nothing makes me happier than finding out the people behind a product I like are just as great as what they make. If I know my money is supporting amazing people with like values, I’m far more apt to purchase their products. Upton’s Naturals is one of those special companies run by amazing people. They’re honest, kind, and hard-working. And fun.
Oh, and the seitan is delicious. The photo up there is a sandwich I made with the bacon-style seitan. It’s not available in stores, but they brought some limited-edition stuff with them for a pop-up sandwich shop event held at Food Fight! during VVC. Told you they were fun. All the vegan mini-mall shops stayed open until midnight while a seemingly endless line of folks joined the gluten fest.
In stores (refrigerator section) you can find several flavors of chunky-style seitan. I’ve used the plain in pasta, the chorizo in tacos, and the Italian on pizza. I’ve also got some tamales (freezer section) on hand, but I need to wait until I have a Tom-less night to try them out because they contain almonds. I have not tried the ground beef, but I have never tried any sort of vegan ground beef because that just creeps me out. Why, I just can’t say, but it does. Gimme a break, man, I’m working pretty hard to not be creeped out by sausagey things. When you haven’t had red meat in 26 years, you lose the aesthetic. I do try to take a step back and concentrate on the spices, which Upton’s does an impressive job at. I also think the seitan, unlike a veggie burger or notdog, stands on its own as a real food, not a fake meat.
If you can’t find their stuff near you (store locator here), either order online or sit tight and it’ll come. Because they don’t just pass along their product to a distributor, instead visiting each new store they get into, it’s slow-going, but again, they’re hard-working and definitely expanding quickly. If you want to bug them about coming to your neck of the woods, I suppose you can on their Facebook page. And keep your eye out for this dapper gent or one of his equally flamboyantly mustachioed friends (one’s clean-shaven, but don’t hold it against him).