Vegan Italian “Beef” Sandwich


The Hot Chef is really experiencing its renaissance lately. Gone are the days of the stiff chef’s whites and formal toques. We’re heralding in the new age of sexy, troubled, talented-but-tortured chefs… masters of their domain and commanding it all with the flick of a lit cigarette. Influenced by the real-life personalities of culinary bad boys like Anthony Bourdain, Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey, the trope of the Hot Chef has become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Shows like The Bear, with the very handsome but equally troubled Carmy Berzatto, exemplify this. And hey, we’re not complaining!

But what does all this Hot Chef talk have to do with our recipe for a vegan Italian Beef Sandwich, you ask? You didn’t come here to discuss the desirability of the tortured chef? Sorry, we got… distracted.

Inspired by the Chicago Italian Beef sandwich that The Bear is centred around, we went out and experimented with a meaty vegan alternative. We use a mix of dried and fresh portobello mushrooms, seared and braised in rich, beefy flavours and paired with tangy giardiniera for some acidity. Filling, delicious, and so juicy it’ll leave you with drippings down to your elbows, you won’t even care because it’s just that good.

What you need

Oven tray 



Chopping board

Parchment paper 



2 cups portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. vegan beef stock paste 
2 tsp. mushroom seasoning
1L water
2 bread rolls
½ cup giardiniera


Step 1

In a separate bowl, rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms by pouring boiled water over them and letting sit for 20 minutes. Once done, strain and keep the liquid to one side. 

Step 2

In a large oven-safe pot, heat up some neutral oil on medium-high heat and add the rehydrated dry mushrooms and fresh portobello mushrooms. Stir for a few minutes until browned. Remove from pot.

Step 3

Add the garlic, carrot, celery and onion to the pot (you do not need to peel these) to the same pot. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have charred edges.

Step 4

Deglaze the pot with the dehydrated mushroom liquid, and 1L water (leaving the charred vegetables in there), then add the beef paste, mushroom seasoning, molasses, Worcestershire, herbs and paprika. Cook down on the stove for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce thickens and becomes a jus.

Step 5

Scoop out any solid bits from the remaining jus, or pass it through a fine sieve. Put back on the stove before adding your mushrooms in for another 15-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Step 6

To assemble, slice your bread rolls in half, grab a large pile of the sliced mushrooms dripping with the jus and top on your sandwich. It should be well and truly WET. Top this with a few tbsp. of giardiniera.

Step 7

Wrap the sandwich tightly in parchment paper. Enjoy, chef!


  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms not your thing? We wouldn’t swap them for tofu or tempeh, or anything along those lines in this recipe. You need the bite and umami for it to work. You can, however, use a beef substitute from your local grocery store – we would recommend something like Fable’s Plant Based Braised Beef.
  • GIARDINIERA: Also known as Italian pickles. Full disclosure, we cheated here and used store bought pickles instead. Unfortunately we got what we paid for – because it was a little TOO salty and acidic for our liking! We rinsed the brine off the giardiniera before chopping it up for our sandwiches. Taste yours before doing the same if needed. If you’re not lazy like us, you can instead make your own! We recommend this one by NYT Cooking:
  • THE BEAR: If you watched The Bear for the plot, and “the plot” was delicious looking chefs making delicious looking things, we’ve got some great recommendations for you! Here’s what to watch next:
  • Burnt: A brilliant, tortured Michelin chef suffers a fall from grace, and moves to London in an adventure to resurrect his career. Starring Bradley Cooper, Daniel Bruhl and Sienna Miller, Burnt is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.
  • Uncorked: A young man upsets his father when he pursues his dream of becoming a master sommelier instead of joining the family barbecue business. Starring Mamoudou Athie and Courtney B Vance, Uncorked is available to watch now on Netflix.
  • Boiling Point: On the busiest night of the year at one of the hottest restaurants in London, a head chef balances along a knife’s edge as multiple personal and professional crises threaten to destroy everything he’s worked for. Starring Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters, Boiling Point is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.
  • Chef: After losing his job at a popular restaurant, Chef Carl Casper attempts to start afresh by fixing up a food truck. In the process, he ends up becoming closer to his family. Starring Jon Favreau and Sofia Vegara, Chef is available to watch now on Stan.
  • Ratatouille: Remy, a rat, aspires to become a renowned French chef. However, he fails to realise that people despise rodents and will never enjoy a meal cooked by him. Starring Patton Oswalt and Lou Romano, Ratatouille is available to watch now on Disney Plus.

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