Is Daphne Cheng New York’s Next Star Vegan Chef?
New York City's in-the-know vegans cried a little when 4-Course Vegan chef Matteo Silverman decamped to the Bay Area. And while they love the Vegan Secret Supper, it pops up in Brooklyn too rarely to satisfy cravings for cool and creative cuisine.
Enter fresh-faced Daphne Cheng, the new no-meat supper club savior, who recently launched Suite ThreeOhSix in a pretty Tribeca loft that doubles as her boyfriend's art studio.
Cheng, who dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley to pursue culinary stardom, is just 24. But while she lacks years on the job, everything she whisks up seems to turn to gold (-en beets).
She launched Verite Catering just out of the Natural Gourmet Institute and soon listed Alec Baldwin, Vera Wang, and Lea Michele among her clients. At a recent dinner, investors, including famous former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, chatted with guests about her in-the-works restaurant they couldn't wait to back.
Their excitement, of course, focuses on her food, which is inventive, beautiful, and delicious. I sampled French lentil pastries topped with whipped bell pepper cream, cultured cashew cheese, a zucchini bisque with red cabbage and chili oil, and chocolate Mezcal truffles.
At past dinners, she's served shaved jicama with toasted millet and porcini oil, ginger polenta with grilled lollipop kale sprouts, and beech mushrooms with seared radicchio and toasted hazelnuts. Depending on the number of courses, five to seven, dinners cost $59–$79 per person, and it's often BYOB.
The sexy supper club feel—sitting down with strangers in a loft while you watch Cheng cook behind a glass wall—adds to the appeal. (She also helps ferry out the plates.) And diners can't get enough. Typically Cheng hosts about a half dozen dinners a month, and they routinely sell out.
Cheng's amazing ThreeOhSix following may also be due to smart food semantics. Although she's passionate about veganism (inspired by her own struggles with food issues, The China Study, and animal rights), it's hard to find the V-word on her site, and you won't hear it much during dinner.
"Most people who come aren't vegan or vegetarian, they're just interested in trying a new experience," she says. "After, they’re definitely wowed; they don’t normally think of vegetables in this way." —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information and reservations, visit www.suitethreeohsix.com
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