Wild chickpea food is vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, yet tasty
While exploring Downtown Market on a Saturday or Uptown on a Wednesday, you may have passed by The Wild Chickpea. On Saturday, the father/daughter team works on the stand.
When you first see baguettes and focaccias, you might do a double take. But you saw well. They all contain chickpea flour and are gluten free. The chef uses the term gluten-free to mean that the food is gluten-free, prepared with separate equipment. However, the establishment is not certified gluten-free.
There is more. The food here is also vegan and soy-free.
Executive chef and owner of Wild Chickpea, Chicago resident Don Maloney decided to become a vegetarian at 18. ,” he said.
Soon after, he switched to veganism.
The scarcity of vegan options in ’90s Chicago forced him to get creative. He had worked in a few restaurants. His restaurant experience helped him find his culinary direction.
“I find it interesting that we Americans think veganism and vegetarianism is a new trend,” Maloney said. “Yet there are cultures that have lived this way for a long time. Working in a Vietnamese restaurant, I learned that the fresh components and the cooked components are amazing together, so I try to do a bit of both.”
Maloney moved to Arizona in 2004 after losing a friend to cancer.
In 2010, he discovered he was also gluten and soy intolerant. Having to cut out even more foods prompted him to take plant-based cooking classes.
But it wasn’t until 2020 that he launched The Wild Chickpea. Initially, due to the pandemic, it focused on packaged baked goods. He always offers them.
On its stand, you can find three types of crispy baguette chips, baguettes, pizza dough and focaccia. If you’re interested in hamburger or hot dog buns and buns, you’ll need to pre-order them from the website.
Maloney chose chickpeas for their versatility and flavor in bread and “egg” creations.
Speaking of eggs, try the “Bacon, Egg and Cheese” breakfast sandwich. All components are vegan and made from scratch. It is served on a gluten-free herb focaccia and accompanied by a delicious salad whose dressing is the perfect balance between tangy and sweet with the umami and salty flavors of the sandwich. It also provides harmony with the sweet touch offered by the sandwich. We let you discover the components. It’s hard to imagine how tasty vegan, gluten-free and soy-free products are.
Seven-inch wood-fired pizzas are also available at Wild Chickpea. Margherita (cashew mozzarella, basil), Three Cheese (cashew mozzarella, almond parmesan, Mozzarella Follow Your Heart) and the most popular Walnut Sausage and Cheese Pizza are some examples.
Maloney uses ingredients sourced from local farmers: Hypha Foods truffles for its truffle and thyme baguette crisps and Blue Sky Organic Farms for the vegetables.
There will be more promotions as he settles in and finalizes his farmers market schedule. He also plans to move to Uptown on Saturdays.
For others with food sensitivities, we highly recommend The Wild Chickpea. You’ll enjoy a flavorful meal without the attendant gastrointestinal discomfort.
“I always say that the plants are the source of the flavors,” Maloney said.
Stay up to date with The Wild Chickpea’s whereabouts by checking out the website and Instagram. Head to the Saturday market to meet the chef’s young helper.
“My business is a one-man show, but my daughter, Shannon, is always there with me, helping me every Saturday, working the cash register. I don’t know many 13-year-olds who try as hard as she does.