I've just read about a restaurant in the New York Times Food section that I found so intriguing I had to share it. Amanda Cohen is the chef and owner of Dirt Candy, one of the most prominent and influential vegetarian restaurants in the country and situated in the East Village. The original location was so small, seating only 18 that when Ms Cohen learned that Leonardo di Caprio was planning to come by one evening, she said no, rather than not be able to accommodate her regulars. Unfortunately, none of her regular patrons turned up that night either, a big mis-calculation for such a small operation.
Ms Cohen has since recently opened a new beautifully designed Dirt Candy on the Lower East Side that comfortably seats up to 60 customers, has a bar & dedicated bartender, receptionist and a full behind-the-scenes team that could easily accommodate Leonardo, and his entire entourage if necessary. Ms Cohen owns the restaurant with her family and has no outside investors, unusual for a such an upscale restaurant, but said she didn't want the inevitable pressures that come with investor participation.
Not being a vegetarian I've never felt inclined to even step into that type of restaurant, but what Ms Cohen has created is innovative and sophisticated and the dishes captured in the article are so artfully presented. As Jeff Gordinier , the article's author states, "while it's accurate to describe Ms Cohen as a pioneer, she's not inclined to talk about vegetables as if they are sacred gifts from the arms of Demeter. In fact she doesn't understand how some busy chefs have the time to gambol through farmers' markets, rapturously stroking the produce." Something I've also often wondered and I just love that she's so refreshingly down to earth!