World Chefs: Amanda Cohen's bet on vegetable restaurant pays off

Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:09am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chef Amanda Cohen took a gamble in 2008 when she opened a tiny restaurant in New York City called Dirt Candy which focused on vegetables at a time when bacon was the rage among food enthusiasts.

Cohen moved the original 18-seat restaurant to a new location on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in February that tripled the seating so she could accommodate more diners eager to try edible farmed and wild plants, which critics have praised.

The 41-year-old who hails from Canada's capital, Ottawa, spoke to Reuters about Dirt Candy's expansion and why, despite serving vegetable dishes, she does not consider herself a vegetarian chef.

Q: What is the challenge of a bigger Dirt Candy?

A: We have a whole new staff to deal with and a bigger menu. We have a lot more people coming through the door so we have a lot more customer expectations to manage.

Q: How tough is it meet those expectations?

A: We do what we do. I cook the way I cook. So it's about finding that balance. I don't have any answers yet. We do have a much more diverse crowd, coming from all over the city and all over the world.

Q: Describe your cooking?   Continued...

Chef Amanda Cohen sits inside her restaurant Dirt Candy in this handout picture taken by Stephen Elledge in New York City, in 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Elledge/Handout via Reuters