Posts Tagged ‘Vegan’

The future home (tall building in background) of vegan restaurant Marcus in Asbury Park, NJ

Recently, I had a chat with our grad Mark Hinchcliffe about some exciting news: the firm he works for will be opening a vegan restaurant named Marcus in Asbury Park, New Jersey, early in 2013. There’s a vibrant dining scene developing over the past few years in Asbury Park, and Mark’s firm has a lot to do with it. Here he gives us some details of what’s to come:

Tell us something about the firm or collective behind this project and what you have to do with it.

I work for a firm called Knockout as a copywriter and overall strategist. We all wear many hats at Knockout, so we don’t have official titles. We’re basically a collective of creators, movers, and thinkers intent on razing old conversations and raising new ones. Our home is Asbury Park. Our work is everywhere. We believe that great design cannot happen without integrity, great ideas do not necessarily require time, and greatness isn’t always so great.

It’s very familial. We share office space with Watt Architects, an architectural firm led by Jim Watt. His brother, Jason, is a partner in Knockout, along with founders Meg Brunette and Kyle LePree. Together we are known simply as Smith. Smith is behind all of the big visions we are currently creating.

What other notable projects is your firm the creative force behind?

In terms of projects that we’ve birthed, funded and designed on our own, there are several. Brickwall was our first project of this kind. It was the first bar to open up in the slowly-getting-back-on-its-feet Asbury. That was in 2006. We just celebrated our 6th anniversary. It’s that place where everyone knows your name; where you can find the best beers on tap anywhere around here – rare stuff that no one else is pouring. And the food is comfort food. Quality fare at really reasonable prices.

Then there’s Porta, our authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurant. The story behind Porta would take up your entire blog, but I’ll make it short.

We decided we wanted to build this amazing pizza place. Fredrica Vilardi (our creative director at Knockout), decided she would learn how to make pizza. Like I said, we wear many hats. So she went and got trained by Roberto Caporuscio, who you may know as the man behind NYC’s Kesté and most recently, Don Antonio. Then we ordered two wood-fired ovens from Italy. They took months to build and ship over here.

We opened at the end of July last year. Somehow between then and now, Porta has become a food and dance hall mecca. We’ve got lines around the block to eat our pizza and party. Come check it out!

What is the property in question? I know it’s the tallest building in Asbury Park. Does it have any other significance?

It’s the tallest in the downtown, and one of the oldest, built in 1927. A beautiful, 11-story Art Deco building with sweeping views of the Atlantic and downtown Asbury.

What or who was the genesis of this idea to open a vegan restaurant?

I can’t say it was any one person. Everything is collaboration here. We don’t take personal credit for creation.

Is Asbury Park ripe for a vegan restaurant? How did you determine that?

We believe it is ripe for a vegan restaurant. But it’s not like we’re doing focus groups. Everything for us starts with a vision. We look at what we want to create, and then we create it. Our projects come from something very passionate and personal within all of us.

But you’ve got to design on a high level. Communication is everything. Because it’s one thing to have a great idea. It’s quite another to say, “This will be so by this time.” We put something at stake. We get our skin in the game. That’s how we go about making things happen. It’s about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Getting outside of our comfort zones to create things that we didn’t know we could create.

Is Asbury Park ripe for a vegan restaurant? Yes. Because we say it is.

How big will the restaurant be? How many seats?

We’re still in the design phase of all of this, so I can’t tell you for sure. But it’s not a hole in the wall. Probably around 25 seats. We want this to be a very immersive experience for the diner.

What elements do you think this concept will need to make it, as you say, the “most well-known vegan restaurant on the East Coast and to take away some vegan bragging rights from our West Coast counterparts?”

It’s all about approaching things differently.

 What do you think, if anything, is missing from the East Coast vegan scene?

I’m not sure anything is missing from the East Coast vegan scene. It is its own thing, humming along. We’re more interested in creating a new context, rather than shuffling around the pieces or bringing that “missing” piece into the current context.

As much as I am a vegan, I don’t believe in the word. It’s just another way to create separation, to say to someone else, “I’m not like you.” When you start calling yourself “vegan” or “meat-eater” or whatever, you’re just judging others. You’re removing yourself from their circle. It’s all very righteous and a load of bullshit. The sooner we can all give up our stories about who’s right and who’s wrong about their eating habits, the sooner we can solve our problems of obesity and diabetes and environmental destruction.

I know you’re searching for a chef. Have you found one yet?

Not yet. We’re still in the creation stage of the project. We have an executive chef team that will be overseeing all of our restaurants, but we’ll be looking for a Chef de Cuisine and all other positions. Both BOH and FOH.

If you haven’t found a chef yet, what skill set do you envision this person having?

Someone who’s an experimenter. Someone who might not come from the vegan world. We’re looking to do something different, which means that we’re not necessarily looking for someone from the vegan scene. Maybe they have a background in charcuterie or molecular gastronomy. It’s about someone approaching this food from a very humble place, a place where they know nothing. We’re daring to be naive.

Does the restaurant have a name? Can you share it yet?

Marcus. It’s going to be a dark, cave-like place. Very sexy. Very carnal. To juxtapose the non-meat dishes. Early-60s inspired – a time of decadence in all things.

When are you planning to open?

February 2013.

Will this be a place where Natural Gourmet students can intern?

Sure. Let’s see what they’ve got.

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Heads up, vegans (and food expo habitués). Here comes The Seed Experience. On June 16 and 17 at 82Mercer in Soho, there will be a multi-media vegan event that includes speakers, film screenings, food tastings, demos, workshops, and more.

Speakers will include Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Kathy Freston, Nick Cooney, our friend and blogger JL Fields, and many more. Check out film screenings including Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Lunch Hour, and Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead. Tastings will be provided by Cinnamon Snail, Pure Food and Wine, Candle Cafe, Blossom, Cafe Terri, among others.

Most importantly, look for demonstrations by NGI’s Olivia Roszkowski and Fran Costigan. Olivia will prepare Spring Shoots with Asparagus, Miso-Spiced Eggplant, Adzuki Beans, Edamame, & Black Sesame Seeds in a Ginger Dressing at 4:00 on the 16th (Stage B). Fran will prepare Irresistible Chocolate Vegan Desserts for Everyone on the 17th at 2:00 (Stage B).

Follow the event on Twitter @theseedexp. Also, rumor has it there’s a 50% off Groupon waiting for you.

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Today I had the pleasure of dining at Maimonide of Brooklyn for the first time. Neal Harden, a Natural Gourmet graduate, is the chef of this vegan newcomer to Boerum Hill (open since December). I don’t want to write a gushy restaurant review (though I’d gladly), so I’ll just say you should make an effort to try Neal’s food.

While my lunch stood on its own as a fresh, creative, carefully prepared meal, it was also the best vegan meal I’ve ever had in New York. Particularly noteworthy and appreciated was the conspicuous lack of any processed, analogue meat substitutes or faux comfort foods so common to the genre.

I recently took the opportunity to catch up with Neal and ask him some questions about this, his latest culinary adventure.

Chef Neal Harden of Maimonide of Brooklyn

Your career is varied and colorful. Give us a thumbnail of where you’ve been working since graduation and what you’ve been cooking.

Thank you for saying so. Since graduation I have been floating around a bit. After an internship/brief employment at Millennium in California, I did a long stint at Pure Food and Wine, initially as a line cook, followed by a very lucky and rapid promotion to Chef, and subsequently Executive Chef. That was my first amazing opportunity, which allowed me to work on cookbooks, travel from time to time, meet lots of interesting people, and grow my career.

My follow-up project was to open the restaurant at a health spa luxury resort in Bali, Indonesia. That was also incredible. Your local products are chocolate, cashew, bracken shoots, rice, wild long pepper, lemongrass . . . I learned how to cook all over again while I was supposed to be teaching others. Prior to my current job as Chef of Maimonide of Brooklyn/MOB USA, I had been doing some short-term restaurant work and some catering and private work.

How did you get involved with this project? Who are your partners?

I simply responded to an ad that name dropped Alain Senderens in a vegetarian food concept. I was familiar with him as the famous champion of Nouvelle Cuisine in France who told the Michelin guide they could take their three stars back! I couldn’t help the curiosity of what a vegetarian project would look like with him on the team.

After meeting the primary partner, Cyril Aouizerate, I knew I wanted to work on this project. Admittedly, the concept sounded bizarre to me at first, but his infectious energy and drive sold me. I have always been at home working for people a little left of center.

What are you trying to do with the food? What do you want newcomers to know about Maimonide of Brooklyn?

With the food we are trying to do a couple different things at once. Firstly, important to the owner is that we keep the food cost down so that we can provide the public with very affordable, friendly dishes.

We also want the dishes to be simple and accessible, but also gastronomically interesting and delicious. Finally we are trying to create lighter vegetable-focused cuisine which is purely reliant on mushrooms, vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and natural sweeteners, and avoids fried foods, mock proteins, and heavy preparations.

Also, we really just want the restaurant to be a totally fun place to gather and linger. We have communal seating, a patio, and a nice program of music, both recorded and live.

What’s with the name? Where did it come from?

The name comes from Maimonides, the medieval doctor and philosopher. Although he had a diverse catalogue of philosophy on topics like spirituality, he also believed in treating health ailments with food first and medicine second. Our owner studied philosophy extensively and has been a big fan for a long time.

There’s some connection to comic books?

We decided to put the story of the restaurant and the concept of some of the food in comic book form. It is a fun way to get people interested, adults and children alike. Who doesn’t like a good comic book?

What’s with those Brooklyn Bridge dishes? Who designed them?

The owner designed them in conjunction with a small French factory. They are an unabashed tribute to Brooklyn, the bridge and otherwise.

The food looks different from other vegan places. What’s setting you apart?

I hope we are set apart partially stylistically. There are many greasy spoon dingy vegetarian restaurants, or alternately restaurants that have kind of an outdated style.

We strive to be colorful, modern, fun, and completely unique aesthetically. In the kitchen, I strive to base my menu solely around products that grow. I’ve never ordered ingredients such as tempeh or seitan, though we do go through 25 cases of different mushrooms and 250 pounds of locally milled, organic wheat flour a week, for example.

Would you be up for some Natural Gourmet interns?

Absolutely. In the beginning I was far too swamped to put together a good enough program for interns, but I think now we are able to take one or two on occasionally. Put them in touch!

What is Neal Harden’s culinary signature?

Various little touches all over the place that I’ve only recently started to notice I’ve been doing for years. 500 different uses of mushrooms, a focus on the forgotten salad, far more fresh herbs than most people would reasonably consider using, an occasional expression of the cuisines that inspire me such as Persian, Moroccan, Japanese, or Maine (my home).

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Vegan Pastry Diva Fran Costigan

Always a star in vegan constellations, our instructor and renowned vegan pastry chef extraordinaire Fran Costigan brought the chocolate. Check out her recipes for decadent chocolate pudding and chocolate sauce


Makes generous 2 cups; 4 to 6 servings

Recipe reprinted from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally

Unsweetened cocoa powder plus a very small amount of chocolate make a pudding so satisfying no one will ever guess this quick and easy treat as made without dairy, eggs or white sugar, or any of the unwanted ingredients found in boxed pudding mix.

Tips:   Tapioca starch needs to cook at a low boil for 30 seconds, not any longer, while cornstarch needs a full minute.  Do not use arrowroot in this recipe. It will result in a too soft and stringy pudding!


½ cup organic cane sugar, lightly ground in blender

6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder [unsweetened]

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup very hot water [I use just boiled water]

2 cups nondairy milk, divided (use your favorite)

2 ounces chopped organic fair trade vegan chocolate (or use chocolate chips)

3 tablespoons organic tapioca starch or cornstarch (do not use arrowroot)*See tips

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. Sift the sugar, cocoa and salt into a medium saucepan. Pour the water over the dry ingredients and mix with a silicon spatula until moistened. Bring to to a low boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a silicon spatula.  Make sure to stir the bottom of the pot, and be careful that the chocolate does not scorch. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.
  1. Stir in 1 2/3 cup of the nondairy milk and simmer 2 minutes. Add the chocolate, and stir with a silicon spatula until the chocolate melts.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the tapioca starch and remaining 1/3 cup of nondairy milk.  Stir with a fork until the tapioca is completely dissolved. Whisking constantly, add to the simmering chocolate. The mixture will thicken and darken immediately. Stir frequently until the pudding bowls. Boil low for 30 seconds, not longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into individual cups or one large bowl. If you don’t like “pudding skin”, press parchment paper directly on the hot pudding.
  1. Serve the pudding warm or refrigerate and serve lightly chilled. The pudding can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated.


© Copyright Fran Costigan All rights reserved



Makes 1 ½ cups

Recipe reprinted from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally

Keep a jar of this versatile, delicious, and very low fat chocolate sauce in your refrigerator for homemade chocolate milk, hot cocoa, smoothies, or drizzle over puddings, frozen desserts and cakes too. Eating a spoonful directly is a hard to resist option. This recipe is used to make the Ultimate Chocolate Icing.

Tip: The sauce will thicken in the refrigerator. Add more water if needed to thin.


½ cup boiling water

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup pure maple syrup, grade b or dark amber, or use agave

2 tablespoons mild tasting extra virgin olive oil, organic canola or melted coconut oil

1/3 to ½ cup organic sugar (light or whole cane), ground in blender

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Combine the cocoa, sugar, and salt in a blender or food processor. Add the boiling water and maple syrup and blend 1 minute. Clean off the sides of the blender bowl with a spatula, add the oil and blend 1 minute. Add the smaller amount of sugar and the vanilla and blend 1 minute. Taste and add more sugar to taste.
  1. Pour the sauce covered jar and refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze for up to one month.

© Copyright Fran Costigan All rights reserved

Fran’s links and info: www.francostigan.com, Facebook: Vegan Pastry Chef Fran Costigan, Twitter: @Goodcakesfran

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For the second year in a row, Natural Gourmet participated in the New York Vegetarian Food Festival, held March 3 and 4 at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street in Manhattan.

Working from our own demonstration stage, Natural Gourmet instructors (and grads) Barb Rich, Olivia Roszkowski, Rich LaMarita, Barb Rich, Jay Weinstein Jill Gusman, Fran Costigan, and Elliott Prag provided two days of non-stop demonstrations and food tastings featuring fresh food featuring seasonal ingredients.

All demonstrations were packed with satisfied festival attendees, many of whom stayed glued to their seats for each demonstration. The demos were so popular, in fact, that we didn’t have enough recipe handouts for everyone in the room. As a result, this week and next we will publish a recipe a day from the festival for those that didn’t get a recipe handout and those unable to attend.

Forgive us, in our busy haste at the festival, we didn’t get any pictures of the food. If any attendees have pictures to share, we’d be most grateful.

Today, we feature the recipe prepared by our graduate, Olivia Roszkowski.


NGI Grad Olivia Roszkowski demonstrating her fabulous kale recipe



Yield: approximately 1 1/4 cup


1 head of garlic, peeled

1/2 cup olive oil
6 cups of water

1/3 cup salt

1 bunch of kale, stems removed

1 ounce of sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup pine nuts



1. Place the peeled garlic in a small saucepan, and pour the olive oil over the cloves, making sure they are completely submerged.  Allow the garlic to simmer at a low heat for approximately thirty minutes, or until the cloves are tender. Remove from heat.


2. Bring six cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Fill a bowl with ice water and set aside.  When the water comes to a boil, add the salt and blanche the kale for four minutes or until tender.  Transfer to ice water, then drain and squeeze the water from the leaves.  Chop into bite size pieces.


3. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for approximately five minutes, or until completely rehydrated.  Drain and thinly julienne.


4. Using a sauté pan, heat two tablespoons of the garlic-infused oil over medium heat, and add the sun-dried tomatoes.  Cook until softened, for approximately two minutes.  Add the pine nuts and keep stirring for thirty seconds.


5. Add the blanched kale to the pan and continue stirring until heated through for approximately one minute.  Gently mix in the reserved garlic cloves.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.


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The 2nd Annual New York Vegetarian Food Festival is on for March 3 and 4,  at The Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 18th Street, in Manhattan.

This festival brings together companies, restaurants, educators, vendors, alternative health practitioners as well as vegetarian/vegan/flexitarian food enthusiasts to network, share information, and eat great food.

Natural Gourmet Institute is again a proud sponsor of this exciting event. Look for demonstrations by Natural Gourmet Chefs Fran Costigan, Jill Gusman, Richard LaMarita, Elliott Prag, Olivia Roszkowski, Jay Weinstein and Barbara Rich:

Saturday, March 3

Richard LaMarita              12:30-1:00

Olivia Roszkowski             1:15-1:45

Elliott Prag                           2:00-2:30

Barbara Rich                       2:45-3:15

Sunday, March 4

Richard LaMarita              11:00-11:30

Jay Weinstein                    11:45-12:15

Jill Gusman                         12:30-1:00

Fran Costigan                     1:15-2:15

Olivia Roszkowski             2:30-3:00

Elliott Prag                           3:15-3:45

We’ll see you there, right? Come by and say hello.


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A new installment in our blog: vegan and vegetarian recipes that are easy, delicious, and seasonal.

This week we’re sharing  a simple but deeply satisfying  poblano chile soup with lime and pumpkin oil. The ingredients are easy to find, and the whole preparation takes no more than 30 or 40 minutes.

The green poblano chile, native to the Mexican state of Puebla, is relatively mild in heat and flavor. It  gives this soup a fresh, smoky flavor with just hint of heat.

Smoky poblano soup

Roasted poblano soup with toasted pumpkin seeds

Serves 6-8

3 large poblano chilies (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon coconut, olive, or canola oil

1 medium onion, medium dice

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 cloves garlic, minced (3 tablespoons)

1 potato (8 ounces) peeled and medium diced

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk

3 tablespoons lime juice (2-3 limes)

¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted, for garnish

Pumpkin seed oil for garnish

  1. Place chilies over open flame or on cast iron pan at medium-high heat. Using tongs to turn them, blacken and blister chilies on all sides.
  2. Transfer chilies to covered bowl to steam for 10 minutes. When cooled, rub away blackened skin and seed chilies. Rough chop them, and set aside.
  3. In 2-quart pot over medium heat, add onions, 1 teaspoon of salt and cumin. Sweat onions on low heat until they soften and become translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
  4. Add potato, stock, and chilies. Cover pot and bring to boil. Lower heat and continue to simmer until potatoes are soft. Add almond milk and remaining salt. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Puree soup in batches in blender until creamy. Add lime juice. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil.

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Be A Humanimal: Interview with CTP 205 Students Maggie Callahan and Nate Marcus

Chef's Training students Maggie Callahan and Nate Marcus, the archtiects of Humane Week

Two Natural Gourmet students Maggie Callahan and Nate Marcus have coined the term “Humanimal” and are  watching it take off. With other members of their class they formed HumaneWeek.org which sponsors the 0% To Factory Farms Pledge, asking consumers to choose humanely raised animal products for a whole week. Their first campaign is Humane Week NYC which runs from January 16 – 22.

What is Humane Week?

Humane Week is a call to action for consumers to stop supporting factory farms. Animals living on factory farms suffer from severe mistreatment.

We started Humane Week to encourage people to think about their choices. Our goal is help participants navigate the market aisles and understand the tricky labels so that they can make an impact by supporting family farms for a whole week.

What is a Humanimal?

We love the definition of  “humane” which is characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed. A “Humanimal” is one who always makes the most humane choice.

What are the goals of Humane Week?

Humane Week is a way to spread awareness about the cruelty of factory farming, and to make humanely raised meat, dairy and eggs the rule, not the exception.

When we created the organization, we wanted to educate everyone about how terrible factory farming is, but focus more on how bright the future could be when it’s a thing of the past. We wanted our message to be positive and optimistic – one where no one feels alienated. There were no examples of campaigns that brought everyone under the same umbrella – vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores – to fight for smaller farms and the better treatment of animals. There is more strength in numbers. So we decided to create the campaign we wanted to be a part of.

Right now a lot of people don’t think about where meat comes from, and that’s because they wouldn’t want to. Factory farms are secretive for a reason. Factory farming is “institutionalized animal cruelty,” according to the Farm Animal Welfare Council. These animals don’t have enough space to move or turn around, see the light of day, breathe fresh air, and can’t experience natural behaviors, like socialization. It’s all about the bottom line. High output, lower costs. And these conditions are the norm. In the U.S., factory farming accounts for more than 99 percent of all animals raised for slaughter. Factory farms have the ability to close down family farms, influence law makers and policy, all because they are so wealthy – because we buy their products.

At the same time, family farms find it hard to compete. Their products are humane and much higher quality, but more expensive. This pledge isn’t without an impact on your wallet. It costs more to raise an animal humanely. But we believe that is the responsibility that comes with eating animal products.

So Humane Week is about addressing all of it – the demand, the infrastructure – asking people to redirect money normally going to factory farming and to support instead a small but growing network of family farms.

Did the idea come about while at the Natural Gourmet Institute?

Yes! The Natural Gourmet has been a real inspiration to us. Chef Jay Weinstein, author of The Ethical Gourmet, taught our animal protein classes and endorsed humanely treated animal products. To think that the Natural Gourmet has been doing this for years— the school is a real pioneer. So it got the conversation started and from there, we created Humane Week.

Are you planning on expanding beyond NYC?

Definitely! At first, we thought to launch a national campaign. But we realized we would have greater results by going more grassroots. We want to empower other people – vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores – to bring Humane Week to their cities. We are making it easy to get started. Someone picks a week and forms a committee, and then everyone works to get the word out. They can provide their own newsletters and local information. Grassroots is the way to go.

Our goal is by the end of 2012 to see 52 Humane Weeks up and running – one for every week of the year.

What about eating in restaurants?

Yes, the pledge definitely includes eating in restaurants. We have volunteers who are calling restaurants in NYC to find out where they source their animal products. Even if a restaurant doesn’t carry humane food products, the inquiries are a great wake-up call. Many restaurants may never have gotten a call bringing this issue to their attention.

We are compiling all of our findings on our website in the link “What To Buy & Eat.” The recommendations are separated by omnivore, vegetarian and vegan titles. The idea is to feel great about eating at any of these establishments. Not only are people withdrawing support from factory farms this week, but they get to support forward-thinking farms and businesses.

How do you differentiate between humane and inhumane practices?

Great question. Actually, that one doesn’t have a definitive answer. Ask different people and you’ll get a different opinion. Ask the factory farming industry and you’ll get a shockingly narrower definition. There isn’t one definition, and as far as we can tell, we’re breaking real ground with our campaign by introducing “Humane” as a criteria for restaurants.

Unfortunately, a lot of labels are misleading. Is it enough that a product is labeled “organic”? Organic means the animal eats organic food and is not injected with antibiotics and hormones. However it might not ensure outdoor space or the ability to engage in natural behaviors. “Free-range” is another misguiding label. It only means animals have access to outdoor space, which in practice might mean a very small patch for a huge amount of chickens, which in reality is no outdoor space at all. “Cage free” is another one. These chickens usually have had their beaks and claws removed to live out of a cage and in close proximity to other birds.

Then there are different “humane” labels. There is a very real difference between them. This is what we are researching and trying to make available to the consumer.

Humane is something consumers have to decide for themselves, but we all have intuitive gauges when it comes to what is humane and what isn’t. Our goal is to give out information so consumers can vote with their dollars for the practices that they believe are humane.

We hope to see 5,000 people take the pledge. We definitely think we’ll be even more inspired by all the Humanimals that are out there.

What are your next steps?

There are many pieces that we have to put together, and we are so grateful for all of the support that we’ve already gotten. We are looking for donations so we can create promotional materials for restaurants. Advertisements, commercials, celebrities, the morning shows – anything is possible.

By signing up for the pledge, you will get a newsletter detailing where to go to get humanely treated animal products in the city.

To take the NYC pledge: visit http://www.HumaneWeek.org and click on “Take The Pledge!!” on the links at the top.

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Roberta Roberti, Chef's Training Student

Our Chef’s Training student, Roberta Roberti, shares her appreciation and knowledge of tempeh, the renowned traditional and vegan protein source . . .

Vegetarians have enjoyed tempeh for years, but it’s been only in the last 10 years or so that non-vegetarians became aware of it. Today it is a commonly found ingredient in supermarkets. Still, I don’t know many serious carnivores who have ever heard of it, much less tasted it. I’m proud to say even meat-lovers who try my tempeh dishes are won over.

I eat tempeh because it’s a whole food, as well as a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It can be used in so many ways. Because it of its chewy, dense texture, it makes a fantastic meat substitute.

Whole, sliced, chopped, crumbled, marinated, jerked, sautéed, baked, broiled, sliced, grilled, and braised―tempeh works with any technique you can thing of. Roll it in sushi or tuck it into a sandwich (one of the most well-known tempeh dishes is the Tempeh “Reuben”). Crumble it and use it in a stir fry, chili, tacos, casseroles, or stew.

Okay, it doesn’t really taste like meat but, in dishes where meat is prominent, you can substitute tempeh and not feel like you’re missing anything. In fact, it is often called “Javanese meat,” as it is particularly popular in Java as a protein source. Speaking of protein, tempeh is a richer source of protein than tofu, as well as a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.

A traditional food of Indonesia, tempeh is made by binding partially cooked soybeans in a fermentation process until it forms a solid, firm cake. A white substance called mycelia is interlaced throughout the soybeans.

There are different types of tempeh sold in markets — such as wild rice, 5-grain, flax seed, vegetable — but you can also find different prepared versions of tempeh. Some are marinated in barbecue or teriyaki sauce, while others are ready-to-heat-and-serve meals, such as tempeh kebabs and tempeh cubes in lemon sauce. Tempeh’s versatility is amazing. Find tempeh in health food stores and places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Because of trends in healthy eating, vegetarianism, and global cuisine, many large, well-stocked supermarkets also carry it.

traditional tempeh wrapped in banana leaves

The recipe below is for Tempeh Mendoan, also known as Mendoan Beancake. In American terms, I guess you can call it Indonesian Battered Tempeh. It’s adapted from and courtesy of Indonesian-Culinary.com. Note that in the Spice Paste ingredient list, they call for “lesser galangal.” This type of galangal is smaller and more reddish than “greater galangal.”

All I have left to say is…Yum!

Tempe Mendoan
(Mendoan Beancake, or Indonesian Battered Tempeh)

tempeh mendoan

Shoyu Sambal
5 shallots, thinly sliced
5 green birds eye chilies, seeded and minced

1 kafir lime, juiced
6 tablespoons shoyu or tamari

Spice Paste
5 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seed
¼” piece lesser galangal or ginger, peeled and sliced

Meandoan Beancake

4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ to ½ cup water as needed

1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 block (package) tempeh,  1/4″ sliced

½ cup coconut oil for frying

  1. Shoyu Sambal: Combine shallots, chilies, kafir lime juice and shoyu in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Spice paste: Puree shallots, garlic, coriander, and galangal in a food processor. Set aside.
  3. Mendoan Beancake: In a separate, large bowl, combine flours, salt, and pepper. Add water to flour mixture, little by little, whisking until the mixture forms a thick batter. Add scallions.
  4. Prepare a platter with paper towels. Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Dip tempeh slices in batter and fry on each side until golden, approximately 30 seconds per side. Transfer tempeh to platter to drain.
  5. Serve mendoan beancake with shoyu sambal and spice paste.

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kale "chips" before baking

First in a series of recipes from students . . . Our Chef’s Training Student, Elyse Prince, who blogs as Creative Delites, shares this excellent recipe for kale chips, a hot commodity in the vegan zeitgeist.

These pesto kale chips are crispy, crunchy goodness. Yes, kale is a lean-mean-green nutritional powerhouse, chock-full of vitamins and calcium, but more importantly it tastes particularly good baked in fresh pesto sauce. Just tear the kale up, toss it with pesto or your own favorite marinade, dehydrate it in the oven, and enjoy it as a snack!

Pesto Kale Chips Recipe

Inspired by Meghan’s Crispy Crunchy Kale Chips


The marinade (makes about 1 ½ cups):
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or more if needed)

The kale:

1 large bunch kale, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
pinch sea salt, or more to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 150°.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Add oil as needed just to blend.
  3. With your hands, mix together the kale and marinade, massaging gently. Sprinkle kale lightly with sea salt.
  4. Transfer kale to large baking sheet.
  5. Place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until kale chips are perfectly crispy and crunchy.
    (Baked kale chips pictured above).

kale chips in their crispy doneness

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