Wicked Kitchen launches huge new range: Veganuary speaks to Derek Sarno

Outstanding plant-based food range Wicked Kitchen took Tesco stores by storm following its launch earlier this year. Vegans and omnivores alike were so excited to try the products – including pizza, pasta, curry, sandwiches, wraps and salads – that the supermarket giant sold four million Wicked Kitchen meals in just 33 weeks.

Now the brand – fronted by chef and Veganuary ambassador Derek Sarno, accompanied by his brother Chad – is about to launch an array of 26 new products, and they sound absolutely incredible. First to be released, just in time for Christmas, are two sharing desserts: a super silky Red Velvet Brownie (which can be eaten hot or cold) and a creamy, zingy Charred Pineapple Dream Cake, glazed with passion fruit. The desserts will be available in 450 stores from this week.

Wicked Kitchen Red Velvet Brownie, launching into TescoVegan pineapple dream cake
Following the launch of the decadent desserts, Wicked Kitchen will be bringing new dips, snacking and sweet treats, ready meals and grab and go items to Tesco over the next month.

Veganuary caught up with Derek Sarno – who is also Director of Plant-Based Innovation at Tesco – to find out what we can expect from the new range.

Sarno says he is “nothing less than thrilled” for phase 2.0 of Wicked Kitchen, which has been designed to make eating more conscious plant forward food choices easier.

The complete new Wicked Kitchen range is as follows:

·         Charred Pineapple Dream Cake
·         Red Velvet Brownie
·         Smoked Carrot Celebration Sandwich (Limited Holiday Edition)
·         Bubble and Squeak Sandwich (Limited Holiday Edition)
·         Cali Roll Cold Cuts Sub
·         Mac Attack Salad Bowl
·         Citrus Noodle Salad Bowl
·         Tex-Mex Salad Bowl
·         Turmeric Cauliflower and Coconut Bites wrap
·         Curried Protein Pot
·         Toasted Three Onion Dip
·         Hella’ Cold Cracked Corn Dip
·         Hipster Salad
·         Street Market Rainbow Slaw
·         Almighty Green
·         Painted Potato Salad
·         Packed Puff Pie
·         Pesto Lasagne
·         Big Bros Enchilada
·         Fiery Filthy Fries
·         Stir Fried Black Pepper Tofu
·         Chinese BBQ Shreds and Greens
·         Margarita Sourdough Pizza
·         Spicy Mushroom and Veg Sourdough Pizza
·         All The Rage Rolls
·         Curried Cauli Pasty

Touching on why Wicked Kitchen’s original launch was such a huge success, Sarno thinks the brand is able to stand out due to its mission to ‘change the existing food system’ and bring vegetables centre plate, while remaining exciting and bursting with flavour.

Innovate or die:

“Chad and myself live the mission,” commented Sarno. “We’re not trying to satisfy a trend, we’re not just trying to appease an audience, we are the target customer and won’t compromise or settle for run-of-the-mill, crap food.

“We listen to consumers and we know what it takes to change the minds of the mainstream customer base to more compassionate food choices. Now, more than ever – with all the climate and environmental issues – we need delicious vegan alternatives to animal based foods that are delicious, flavourful, crave-able and crafted with quality, convenience and affordability. We both have years of experience in restaurants, corporate and factory kitchens, and have no problems challenging the current way things are done.

“Our priority is to remove animal products from foods. But we are also working on the less plastic solution and eliminating the use of other environmentally destructive ingredients. Although some things take more time than others we continue to ask the questions and challenge the current system.”

Encouraging meat eaters to ditch animal products is of course front of mind for all vegan organisations. Wicked Kitchen is no different in that it aims to appeal to all lifestyles. “We don’t need to make vegans more vegan, we are already there. What we need to do is provide easy and delicious solutions for people still eating animals! It couldn’t be more important to eat plants, and it is the one thing we know we can do to help benefit the world for our health, the environment, and the animals,” added Sarno.

Healthy meets wicked:

Wicked Kitchen states its food is designed to be 80% healthy and 20% wicked, and that removing animals from our diets is the gateway to wellness. As the range grows, Sarno says we can expect to see a variety of foods, from cheat treats to healthier options – but each will be packed with flavour.

“We focus on abundance not deprivation, as explained in the Wicked Healthy Cookbook that came out earlier this year. Diets don’t work, overall lifestyle does. We feel we’ve cracked the code and can enjoy a wide variety of foods that are both sinful and healthy.”

The new range of Wicked Kitchen products aren’t the only vegan innovations we can expect to see at Tesco over the next few months. While Sarno is sworn to secrecy over the details, he did reveal that there are lots of new plant-based products in the pipeline – from the Beyond Burger to holiday offerings and some seasonal favourites.

Derek Sarno of Wicked Kitchen
Derek Sarno, Wicked Kitchen chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation at Tesco

Taking responsibility for our actions:

Following the IPCC report announcement last week and announcements from scientists that we must drastically reduce our intake of animal products to prevent a rise in global warming of more than 1.5°C, Sarno says there is no better time than now to eat more veg:

“I encourage people to look beyond societal norms and what we grew up with; just because we’ve done something forever doesn’t make it right! Chefs especially need to get on board – food has a much more important role that just pleasing taste buds. Eating animals is not good for us, and factory farming is definitely not good for the planet or the poor beings who are being sacrificed for our taste buds.

“We have to make the conscious effort to look past our ego, take responsibility and work towards changing our habits to be more compassionate. Only then will we make the drastic shift towards a better world for all.”

As a Veganuary ambassador and self-professed plant pusher, Sarno says to anyone thinking of taking the Veganuary pledge to go vegan:

“Do it! Try vegan for a month! There is no downside and we all gain with your simple choice to choose a more compassionate and healthier way to eat.”

And with options like Wicked Kitchen available in our largest supermarkets, who needs to eat animals anyway?

Follow Derek Sarno’s advice and register for Veganuary. What have you got to lose?

Ready to take the Veganuary pledge?

Veganuary is the world's largest vegan movement, inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.