Jun 05, 2015

A Mostly Vegan Interview With Chef Nikki King Bennett

Chef Nikki King Bennett, founder of Mostly Vegan health food consultancy, talks to Gessato about her best food memories, her work, and what she looks for most in a good restaurant.

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For our latest edition of #FoodieFriday, we’ve reached out to Chef Nikki King Bennett, who was included in the 2013 book, “Best Chefs America,” and today concentrates on her business Mostly Vegan, a health food consultancy based in the heart of NYC. King originally moved to New York City to study at The Natural Gourmet Institute and quickly after graduating became the Executive Chef at the acclaimed raw vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine. In addition to being an expert in all things raw, vegan, and vegetarian, she intertwines her creativity and innovation to elevate the typical dining experience for her clients. In an interview below, we got a chance to learn about Chef Nikki’s favorite food memories, inspirations, and restaurants in the city. For a deeper understanding on her culinary vision, you can find her at mostlyvegan.com, or keep up with her on Instagram.

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Q. We understand your father had an annual vegetable garden. Would you say he is the one who influenced you to become a chef?
A. Yes, definitely! In addition, my mom was a great cook and we mainly ate home-cooked meals growing up. Over the years I’ve grown to realize how important that was, not only in steering my career, but also in understanding a healthy diet – farm to table in it’s truest form.

Q. What is your favorite food memory? A. One of my favorite and most vivid food-related memories is of sitting on the front steps of my best friend’s house when we were about eight years old eating way too many of the seasons first plums. I can picture those two young girls in the warm, southern air with fresh plum juice running down our arms. Being a kid was pretty great!

Q. From where do you find your culinary inspiration? I’m inspired by the seasons, especially so when I walk through the farmers market. I anticipate each change in temperature and the shift in flavor, color, and mood that results.

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Q. What are some unusual things we’ll find in your kitchen? A. Looking around, it doesn’t appear that I have anything too unusual, but I will tell you some things I can’t live without:
-My vita mix: money well spent, it’s oh-so worth it!
-Pistachio oil
-At least 5 different types of salt at all times
-A handmade apron from Japan, a very thoughtful gift

Q. What are your favorite restaurants in the city and why?Glasserie – I love mediterranean flavors, it is my top brunch spot, hands down.
Neta – Even though I don’t eat fish, I love to eat at the bar and watch the care that the chefs put into making each dish. They have really fantastic vegetarian options.
Paulie Gee – Who doesn’t have a favorite pizza place?

Q. When you aren’t cooking for others, what is your favorite dish? Mujadara with Cucumber Yogurt.

Q. Are there any foods you just don’t like? I absolutely hate water chestnuts.

Q. What do you value in a good restaurant? The whole package: a well executed menu (no matter how simple), attentive service, ambient lighting and an outdoor space gets some bonus points.

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tagged interviews, taste, chefs, vegan, new york city