Andrew Dargue has worked as a chef since 16 years of age. In later years he worked with the Hotel and Catering Training Company as a Development Advisor and also as a catering lecturer at Middlesbrough College. He became vegetarian almost 15 years ago and in 2000 started a small manufacturing company supplying vegetarian dishes to hotels and restaurants.
Having researched many vegetarian restaurants across the UK, Andrew and his partner Donna Conroy found that many were simply cafés with a focus on healthy, wholesome food. Spotting an opportunity for an innovative, exciting vegetarian venue, the couple left their hometown of Teesside in 2004 and opened their first restaurant, Vanilla Black, in York. Their ambition was to elevate meat-free cuisine to the standard of the very best mainstream restaurants. Vanilla Black quickly became a success and in 2008, it relocated to London.
Vanilla Black is recommended in the Michelin Guide and in December 2011, was awarded two AA Rosettes.
The restaurant is now recognised as one of the best vegetarian establishments in the country with excellent reviews from many top food critics including:
“Without doubt the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve been to in this country” Tracey Macleod, The Independent
“[Vanilla Black is] the sort of restaurant that can show the way forward” Jay Rayner, The Guardian
“My veggie pal, resigned to too many mushroom risottos and roast veg and goats cheese towers is impressed. But it’s the syrupy, custardy sponge pudding that wins the day; gorgeous” Marina O’Loughlin, Metro
“Vanilla Black joins the very short list of London restaurants that serve vegetarian dishes so good […] that even hardened meat eaters don’t miss their pound of flesh” Charles Campion
“A gravitas and elegance missing from the rest of the ‘brown rice’ brigade’ Lisa Markwell, Independent on Sunday