IN THE PRESS
POP-UP VEEGEES BRINGS PLANT-BASED DELICACIES TO SAN RAFAEL
August 18, 2020
When it was clear that the pandemic would halt social gatherings for the foreseeable future, it was time for San Rafael chef Rozanna Ogneva to redefine her local catering business.
“I lost it all because of COVID,” she says.
But her long-standing desire to open a restaurant coupled with what she sees as a rising interest in plant-based menus propelled her to open pop-up restaurant VeeGees in San Rafael’s West End in July.
Ogneva says that moving to a restaurant format was a leap of faith.
“I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one a basket,” she says.
She’s been gradually testing her recipes, utilizing the Fourth Street space where she operated her catering kitchen.
“Plant-based is amazing,” she says.
“There are so many things you can do.”
The menu continues to evolve as she figures out what people like.
“I get bored in the kitchen, so I always have to do something new, but I keep the favorites on there,” she says.
Most recently, the menu featured a Wine Country picnic platter with house-made artisan cultured nut cheese, hummus and seasonal house jam; roasted mushroom empanadas with salsa verde dipping sauce; “mermaid roll ups” made with seaweed mock ahi, carrots, roasted red peppers, green onion and soy dipping sauce; cauliflower wings with ranch sauce; and quinoa salad with kale, onions, pumpkin seeds, local peaches and maple Dijon dressing or Fairfax blackberry plum reduction. She makes her own brioche rolls for the Impossible burger, organic tortillas for the little amigo tacos and mozzarella for her pizzas.
“I make a super-moist, glazed carrot cake that tastes like a doughnut,” she says.
You might also find cherry and apricot hand pies, vegan chocolate chip cookies and gluten-free, vegan oatmeal cookies.
Ogneva has been running her catering business, Chef Rozanna (formerly Are You Being Served), since 1995. She lays claim to being the first caterer to offer exclusively organic food to her clients.
“I used to drive to farms in Petaluma to do my sourcing,” she says.
For now, VeeGees is open for curbside pickup and limited outdoor dining by advanced reservations only during San Rafael’s Dining Under the Lights from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays at 1537 Fourth St., next to the Mayflower Pub in San Rafael. She is closed this week, but reopens Aug. 27.
She plans to eventually move to strictly takeout in October when the weather shifts and she can’t serve outside, and is hoping to eventually establish something more permanent.
Go to veegeescuisine.com or facebook.com/veegeescuisine for additional information, including schedule and menu updates and catering information. To place reservations for outdoor dining or for to-go orders, call or text 415-328-0714.