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My Memorial Day dinner party

Chef Lauren Von Der Pool shares her go-to playlist and vegan menu.

If you’ve never been into the idea of going vegan, LA-based chef Lauren Von Der Pool might convince you otherwise. She recently launched the popular food truck Food Art by Lauren, and her plant-based eats were go-tos for artists such as Cardi B at Coachella.

When kicking off the summer this Memorial Day, Von Der Pool will remember America’s fallen warriors. “I’m going with a southern-inspired menu to honor the often overlooked black soldiers who fought in the Civil War,” she says.

Here, Von Der Pool shares what guests will be eating, drinking, and listening to at her dinner party.


on the menu

“Summer Southern classics don’t have to be heavy, in fact, they can be made without meat or dairy. For a vegan take on fried chicken, I’ll use shiitake mushrooms and cauliflower instead." Also on the menu: Hoppin’ Johns (a traditional dish of rice, peas, and onions sans bacon), maple-baked beans, candied yams, crispy potato salad, and coconut braised greens. "For dessert, I’ll make strawberry shortcake and cinnamon-pecan bundt cake. For vegan baking, I use coconut milk, coconut flour, and natural sweeteners such as dates or dried raisins."

what we’re drinking

“I love a good bubbly on any occasion and my signature start-to-summer drink is green champagne made with cold-pressed pineapple juice, lemon, and kale. For those who don’t want to drink alcohol, The Mountain Valley’s sparkling alkaline water is the perfect refreshment. And no Southern-inspired bash would be complete without sweet peach tea and a Gettysburg whiskey sour made with Buddha’s hand, a plant that has a lemony aroma.”

the decor

“I want there to be a feeling of celebration, warmth, and excitement. The smell of sassafras will fill the room and there will be a black and white cotton checkered table cloth to frame sunflower-filled mason jars lining the table. Beautiful plates and cutlery carved from oak trees will complement the black cast iron pans that hold all of the delicious soul food."

the guest list

“Everyone will be dressed to the nines in the fiercest get-ups straight out of the late 1800s. I especially wish I could bring together a magical reunion between the fallen soldiers and their families. I’d want the soldiers to feel powerful, victorious, and right at home. It is important that all of the fallen soldiers that defended my right to live know that the memory of the life of each one of them shall forever resound throughout the universe."

what we’re listening to

“The inspiration behind my playlist is summed up in two words: modern and vintage.”

sam cooke - a change is gonna come

sam cooke - having a party

billie holiday - strange fruit

raury, big k.r.i.t. - forbidden knowledge

ella fitzgerald, lou levy quartet - mack the knife

frankie lymon - little bitty pretty one

blind boy fuller - what's that smells like fish

2pac - ride or die

fertile ground - let the wind blow

common - the people