How Gordon Ramsay Came Up With A Vegan Take On His Famous Scallops - Exclusive

Gordon Ramsay, the celebrated chef and restauranteur, is known for several signature dishes that appear on the menus of practically all his famous restaurants, including his Hell's Kitchen franchise, which is expanding its reach to the Northeast with a new Hell's Kitchen location at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut on July 15. Among them are Ramsay's beloved beef Wellington, his seasonal lobster risotto, and his iconic pan-seared scallops, the latter of which can now be enjoyed as a vegan interpretation made with tofu instead of seafood.

While the plant-based food market has experimented with and seemingly perfected vegan takes on some of the most beloved meat staples in recent years, including burgers, chicken tenders, meatballs, and ground beef, the options surrounding vegan seafood are still significantly limited. This, combined with the fact that Ramsay's pan-seared tofu scallops are prepared with almost identical sauces and toppings to their seafood counterparts, makes this vegan dish, an extremely exciting offering. But how did it come about? According to "Hell's Kitchen" Season 10 winner Christina Wilson, who serves as VP of Culinary at Gordon Ramsay North America, Ramsay's tofu scallops are actually the product of a popular prank on Ramsay's hit television series.

The culinary power of sabotage night

In advance of the opening of the new restaurant at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Tasting Table got an exclusive first look at Hell's Kitchen and had the opportunity to speak with Christina Wilson about the innovative menu offerings, including the pan-seared tofu scallops. According to Wilson, the tofu scallops were inspired by a challenge that occurs late in most "Hell's Kitchen" seasons, which internally is called "sabotage night." When there are roughly four or five chefs left on "Hell's Kitchen", the chefs are assisted by special sous chefs, like Wilson, and are tasked with preparing some of Ramsay's most celebrated dishes, including the pan-seared scallops. 

Wilson, then, has a heavy hand in how the sabotage unfolds. "If I'm working on the fish station where the scallops are cooked, when [a chef] calls for scallops, I'm going to have tofu scallops hidden in my station somewhere. I'm going to cook those [rounds of tofu as if they were scallops], then send them [to the chef]," she says. Ideally, the chef will look at the plate of tofu scallops and turn to Gordon Ramsay and say, "Hey chef, these scallops look funny." Then Ramsay will reply, "Good catch, those are tofu." 

After making tofu scallops as an attempt to test the contestants' skills, the team behind the Hell's Kitchen restaurants realized they were a brilliant vegan alternative to the classic dish. Now you can order tofu scallops at Hell's Kitchen locations.