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I’m distinguished?!?

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As you can probably tell by my earlier posts on How to Be a Chef and Should You Go to Cooking School? I really believe that other people should be exposed to my opinions on a regular basis. And who better to beat over the head with my club-like wisdom than a bunch of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, soft-skinned, hopeful cooking school students? Which is why I’m really excited that Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, NC has chosen me to be their Distinguished Visiting Chef this year.

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I’ll be down there from Saturday through Monday, March 23 – 25, to warp young minds, crush their hopes, and kill their dreams. I’ll also be doing cooking demos. They use a lot more diplomatic language than I do, so here’s what they say:

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The Distinguished Visiting Chef Program was established in 1979 to honor outstanding culinarians and to provide an expanded learning experience for culinary and pastry arts students. Each year the College of Culinary Arts of Johnson & Wales University honors experts in the field of culinary arts by inviting internationally recognized chefs from the United States and abroad to visit the University and share their knowledge with the students. Drawing on their expertise, these individuals pass on valuable information acquired over the years as they lecture and demonstrate to Johnson & Wales University students.

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Which basically means: warp, crush, kill.

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Actually, I’m kind of excited. I feel like a lot of kids are coming out of cooking school the way I did: totally unprepared for the real world. I’m hoping that by vaccinating them with a little bit of reality poison now, they’ll be better able to resist its corrosive effects in the future. Also, they set up a scholarship in my name, which is kind of nice except that I can’t apply for it. Which is too bad, because with my name on it, I thought I’d be a shoo-in to win. Instead, someone named Brandon Lopez got the scholarship, to which I say: Congratulations, Brandon. And you owe me a 20% kickback.

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I had no idea Johnson & Wales looked like Mordor.

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So when you’re going about your day on March 24 and 25 just realize that I’ll be down in North Carolina, attending a fancy dress party in my own honor, killing the weak, and luring the strong into being my future employees. Thanks, Johnson & Wales!

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We are going to fight a Piglet

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What is a piglet and what is Dirt Candy doing to it?

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“And lo, there came four piglets, and the the fourth was
a pale piglet and its name was Death.”

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Read the rest of this entry »


Best Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC!

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The Village Voice has singled us out as one of their ten favorite vegetarian restaurants in the city before, and they’ve previously put us in the spotlight for having the best grits in town, too. But today marks the first time we’ve been officially voted “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” in New York City by the Village Voice, and I couldn’t be happier. I know you’re not supposed to care about awards and praise, but sometimes it really means a lot. Dirt Candy is a very small restaurant, with a very small staff, and all of us are here every day. We bust our butts to deliver consistent, creative and fun food and, in some tiny way, all of us really want to change the way people think about vegetables. So it’s nice to get a pat on the back like this. Thanks, Village Voice! All seven of us love you, too!

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We are Bib Gourmand!

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This year, Dirt Candy again becomes one of only three vegetarian restaurants in the city to get Bib Gourmand status from the Michelin Guide. It’s a real honor and I’m very proud to get this. Bib Gourmand status is awarded to restaurants that offer great food, but that aren’t on the starred dining track. The first year we got Bib Gourmand I prickled a little at this — whaddaya mean we don’t give the starred dining experience?!? But then I realized that what this meant was that the food was good but that to their minds we’re not competing with those places that have white tablecloths, a sommelier and a super-expensive multi-course tasting menu. The Bib Gourmand basically means that Michelin considers your food above average, but you’re the chillaxed alternative to the uptight, uptown fancy pants places that want to go head-to-head with Eleven Madison Park and Per Se. So: good food, a fun experience, affordable prices and a relaxed, party down atmosphere? I’m proud for that to be what comes to mind when people think of Dirt Candy.

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“Dirt Candy, you relax me.”

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Also on the list are Fatty Crab, DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar and a whole bunch of other restaurants. You can check out the entire Bib Gourmand line-up here.

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Fit for Foodies

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I’m as ambivalent about the word “foodies” as the next chef (I love people who are excited about food, but I feel weird that we need a special label for them) but one place I like seeing it all the time is on Open Table’s Fit For Foodies rankings. Their users rate restaurants across the country and one of the categories is whether it’s “fit for foodies” or not. Once a year they total up all the results and list the 50 restaurants which received the most votes as “fit for foodies” in the country. San Francisco rocks it this year with 14 restaurants in the top 50. Chicago comes in second with 6 wins. And New York City comes in third (bronze – yuck!) with 5 restaurants in the Top 50. They are:

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Aldea (George Mendes)

Annisa (Anita Lo)

Blue Hill (Dan Barber)

WD-50 (Wylie Dufresne)

Dirt Candy (Amanda Cohen)

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Here’s the full list.

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Thanks to everyone who voted. I’m extremely proud to be included on a list that prestigious, and it means a lot to me that this is based on votes from people who actually ate here. I really do think Dirt Candy is a special place, and my tiny staff* and I try hard to make sure that when people eat at Dirt Candy they have the best experience possible. It’s nice to know that it’s working.

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* – I don’t mean that they are leprechauns, I just mean that there are very few of them.

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Dirt Candy wins?

 

Every now and then one of these “Restaurants are getting tiny!” articles appear and the latest one is in the Wall Street Journal. They do mention Dirt Candy as they talk about restaurants that clock in at under 60 seats and 1,000 square feet, which means that they know what they’re talking about because Dirt Candy is only slightly large than three adult males standing side-by-side. But I read their stories of 800 square foot restaurants with 55 seats, and 700 square foot restaurants with 20 seats and I think, “Amateurs.” Because Dirt Candy? 650 square feet and 18 seats. Which means that I…win?

 

Actual size of the Dirt Candy kitchen.


No Longer Fit

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Super summer bummer! I just noticed that my ranking on Open Table as “Fit for Foodies” has been removed. But it’s not some insidious plot or a sign of slipping standards. Open Table rankings operate in real time according to the reviews that are there and those reviews are updated approximately every 90 days. So if you have some bad reviews, they eventually slip further and further down in time and finally vanish off Open Table altogether so that when you read reviews you’re only getting the latest ones made in the last three months. What’s happened with my Open Table reviews is that no one’s left one for a while, so currently it’s as if I have no reviews on Open Table, which makes me feel sort of naked.

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If only these kittens had Open Table reviews….

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Don’t worry – I’m not asking anyone to go post reviews for Dirt Candy; you can’t write a review unless you’ve booked a reservation through Open Table. It’s just another semi-interesting look at the way these things work. Emphasis on “semi.” Even stranger, I notice that there aren’t very many recent online reviews for Dirt Candy at all. Have I reached some sort of strange unreviewable status? Is online reviewing over? Did someone break the internet?

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If you do eat at Dirt Candy, please feel free to post an Open Table review. Even the bad ones are genuinely fun to read. I got hours of enjoyment out of the person who complained that they had a three course meal and it took them one and a half hours. Way too long in their book! We’re like a restaurant run by snails!

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Winning is fun!

This week’s New York Magazine is their “Best of” issue and they did a round up of the best vegetables in town. Along with Dovetail, ABC Kitchen, Torrisi and a few more, Dirt Candy wins “Best Carrots” for our barbecued carrot buns. They say:

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“The vegetarian answer to Momofuku pork buns: dough tinted with carrot juice, a barbecued-carrot filling, and a carrot-hoisin dipping sauce.”

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Yay! It’s been a tough winter and this is a really nice way to start the week. The full list of “Best Veggie” selections can be found here.

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“Hm, I will have to check these carrots out.”

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Holy Foodies!

I really love winning things. In fact, I love winning things so much that after an epic battle with my five-year-old nephew over a game of Sorry! I’m no longer allowed to play board games with my siblings’s children. But while awards are nice, what means the most to me is when I win something from actual people who paid actual money to eat at Dirt Candy and had so much fun that they pass on the recommendation to their friends. So I’m really psyched that Open Table, the national online reservation system, has gone through 7 million votes cast by diners and selected Dirt Candy as one of only five restaurants in NYC (and one of 50 across the country) that score highest in their “Fit for foodies” category. The other New York City restaurants are Anita Lo’s Annisa, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill, Iacopo Falai’s Falai down on the Lower East Side, and its neighbor, Wylie Dufresne’s wd-50.

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So thank you for everyone who voted. Between this and the Michelin Guide thing today has been the kind of day when owning a restaurant feels like fun, rather than work.

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Here’s the complete list of the 50 “Fit for Foodies” restaurants

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It’s a Two Pandas kind of day.

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Michelin Guide Recognizes Dirt Candy

This year’s Michelin Guide has once again recognized Dirt Candy as one of only three vegetarian restaurants in the city to be awarded Bib Gourmand status. To Michelin, we’re the restaurants that don’t offer the starred dining experience but still serve exceptional food – we’re the chilled out joints that let you kick back and relax while you dine it up as opposed to the uptight overachievers who want to climb the Michelin star ladder. The only other vegetarian Bib Gourmand choices are Korean vegetarian restaurant, HanGawi, and Indian veggie restaurant, Saravanaas. The list of Bib Gourmand picks includes David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune and Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue. You can read the full list here.

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BibGourmand

And here’s what they sprayed on my sidewalk.

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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