My entire life revolves around food. I dream about it, I wake up thinking about it, and I cook and eat all day. I guess that makes sense because I’m a vegan chef, cookbook author, and restaurateur, so my life’s purpose is dreaming up recipes. Oddly enough, some of my best ideas come to me while I’m eating, which gives me a good reason to eat all day. But my absolute favorite thing to do is relax, put my “work brain” to rest, and enjoy delicious food cooked by other vegan chefs. No analyzing or scrutinizing what I’m eating—just soaking up the deliciousness as purely as a normal customer would. With this in mind, here are five vegan chefs whose work I love—and to whom I turn to when I’m in the mood for someone else’s cooking.
1. Matthew Kenney
Matthew Kenney is a pioneer in vegan cuisine thanks to his restaurants Double Zero and Plant Food + Wine (to name a few). Long before I was a chef, Kenney was in the kitchen implementing his unique vegan perspective. He plates like an artist through his use of color and edible flowers, and he revolutionized raw cuisine, taking it from crunchy to glam. Kenney and I recently collaborated on a vegan dinner for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and Kenney’s personality and spirit shined every bit as bright as his food.
My favorite Matthew Kenney dish: Farro “sausage” at Double Zero
2. Adam Sobel
The Cinnamon Snail is a food truck and fast-casual restaurant that could be created only by someone who is part mad scientist and part vegan chef. And that’s Adam Sobel! Always pushing the boundaries with bold flavor combinations and unlikely ingredient pairings (think Chinese five spice roasted Brussels sprouts, and maple hickory barbecue and macaroni and cheese), Sobel wows New York City with his delicious recipes that are anything but boring. Standouts include his Thanksgiving Sandoo—which is essentially an entire Thanksgiving dinner packed in a baguette—and his Beastmode Burger Deluxe, which pretty much explains itself. Fun fact—my boyfriend Ben impressed me on our first date by telling me he was a regular at Cinnamon Snail. #swoon!
My favorite Adam Sobel dish: Korean BBQ Seitan at Cinnamon Snail
3. Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Not only is Isa Chandra Moskowitz a best-selling vegan cookbook author, but she also runs two amazing restaurants (if anyone can prove that building a vegan culinary empire is possible, it’s her). From New England Glam Chowder to popcorn cauliflower, Moskowitz’s recipes are reminiscent of hearty, meaty classics that will leave even the meatiest meat eater feeling satisfied. Her restaurant Modern Love Brooklyn has magic in the air not only because of her knockout dishes but also because the #girlboss herself runs the kitchen, and you can taste her immense passion for her craft in every part of the experience. I love that Moskowitz runs her social media with a refreshingly uncensored and honest perspective of what it’s truly like to run her world. I actually just met her for the first time when her Brooklyn restaurant opened a few months ago, but somehow I felt like I had known her for years!
My favorite Isa Chandra Moskowitz dish: Mac & Shews at Modern Love Brooklyn
4. Roberto Martin
While chefs might hold a reputation for being uptight and rigid, Roberto Martin breaks down that stereotype by being the most hilarious, fun-loving, effervescent vegan chef in all the land. It’s no shock that his esteemed background includes being Ellen DeGeneres’ personal chef! His cuisine appeals to a wide audience because flavor leads the way—chilis and peppers and fresh herbs really make his recipes pop. Furthermore, I love his cookbooks Vegan Cooking for Carnivores and Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking because everything is so simple and delicious. Dishes such as Tofu Crabcakes and Basic Cheesecake are some of my favorites, but you can always add your own twist on them if desired. This really helps cooks build a culinary foundation that is solid.
My favorite Roberto Martin dish: Classic Spanish Rice (it’s based on his mom’s family recipe, so you can taste the love!)
5. Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby
I have a long-distance love affair with Vedge in Philly. My mom and I once drove to Philadelphia from New York City just for dinner, and then drove back home. Our round-trip journey was more than four hours, and we did not regret even a minute of the trek. Vedge’s creativity with vegetables is so unprecedented that people from all over the world flock to the City of Brotherly Love to experience it. These two geniuses turn mushrooms, potatoes, and cauliflower into delicacies. It’s their attention to texture that sets their cuisine apart. I’ve heard that meat eaters say their vegetable dishes actually taste like meat! As a long-time vegan, this is harder for me to pick up on, but I suspect it’s the way they crisp, char, and sear their veggies that make them so multi-dimensional to the palate. New Yorkers, who wants to carpool?
My favorite Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby dish: Seared Maitake Mushroom
Chloe Coscarelli is a vegan chef, cookbook author, and founder of Chef Chloe and the Vegan Café.
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