Made By Lukas
Lukas Volger Redefines What It Means to Feast
What do you think of when you see the word “feast”? Tables laden with roasted turkeys and hams? Buffets groaning with butter- and cream-infused side dishes? Or maybe a Seussian holiday table, headed by a grinning Grinch carving a roast beast for a town full of hungry Whos? We’ve recently had our whole notion of feasting turned upside down, all thanks to Lukas Volger and his mini-empire built on vegetarian cooking and delicious, healthy fare.
Mini-empire might sound hyperbolic, but Volger is engaged in enough projects to make the designation apt. After publishing his first cookbook, Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, Volger started a successful veggie burger line of his own, Made by Lukas; he began teaching classes and giving cooking demonstrations around the country; and he started a digital quarterly, Feast by Lukas, loosely organized around the concept of, you guessed it, a feast. When many of us are seeking to improve our diets and raise our consciousness regarding what we put into our bodies, Volger’s emphasis on whole foods and healthy ingredients as part of accessible recipes captures the culinary zeitgeist perfectly.
Recently, we visited Volger in his sunny, plant-filled apartment in Prospect Park South. Over a lunch of Made by Lukas veggie burgers (served with fresh ricotta, pickled onions, and arugula) and spring vegetable ramen (accompanied by a soft-boiled egg that had a perfectly oozing, bright orange yolk), we spoke with him about his philosophy on cooking—and eating—well.
For Volger, who started cooking with his mother and reading cookbooks as a child, the most important thing is taste. He tells us that when it comes to planning his recipes, he doesn’t “necessarily approach it from a health angle; it’s more important that the food tastes good.” And while Volger isn’t strictly a vegetarian anymore, his cookbooks and digital quarterly are full of recipes that are “all vegetarian, seasonally oriented, and [his] style of cooking… because [he] finds vegetarian cooking to be the most fun, interesting, and personally satisfying approach to food.”
Eating Volger’s food—whether it’s a beet-and-hazelnut veggie burger that will immediately vanquish any thoughts of the ultra-processed, soy-based gut bombs that are most commercial veggie burgers, or the delicate hazelnut muffin with a sweet lemon glaze that Volger served for dessert—makes it abundantly clear that vegetarian food isn’t about rigidity or rules but flexibility and the celebration of good food that just so happens to be good for you. Volger is far from dogmatic about his approach to food, and he prefers to approach it holistically. “Food can be such a sensitive subject because of all the different ways that it affects us and the world, and in no small part because of our individual and often emotional relationships with it… in my experience the tunnel vision happens when one gets too attached to the dogma.”