You can take a girl out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the girl! Although it’s been a few years since I’ve moved out of the Big Apple, its idiosyncrasies and cultural references still mean something to me. One very New York thing I still remember is how important the annual Met Gala is to the social life of the city. Of course, it’s not like I ever went or even was ever close to attending. But I knew and worked for various people who were legitimately invited. Isn’t that almost the same thing??
After a hiatus due to the big you-know-what last year, the Met Gala is slated to return this September 13 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But while the red carpet and the step-and-repeat will be returning, one can’t help but question: what is the purpose of such a glamorous and glitzy event in these times? We are not going back to business as usual. The world in 2021 is a remarkably different place than the world in 2019—we have and currently are experiencing ecological disasters, breakdown of Afghanistan, racial justice, and a global pandemic, just to name a few. How will organizers, the 1% of the 1%, justify a gathering so exclusive that Beyonce pretty much looks like a regular person?
To give credit to Anna Wintour, the Chief Creative Officer of Condé Nast and the Honorary Chair of the Met Gala since probably before we were born, the committee seems to have found at least one solution. Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and Bon Appetit selected ten rising culinary stars to serve an entirely vegan menu at this year’s gala.
“We thought it was important to really talk about what’s present, what’s happening—how food is changing in America,” Samuelsson told Bon Appetit. “We want to be the future of American food, of plant-based food. That conversation is happening now.” This is surprising coming from a chef who owns, among other restaurants, Red Rooster in Harlem, which serves definitely non-vegan soul food. But it seems appropriate that there is a willingness to reflect and change. “I’m excited about hopefully starting a tradition where, next spring, the audience will come for the food as well.”
So, if you’re ready to wear something deliciously over-the-top and eat some delicious vegan food at home on September 13, the 10 selected chefs are showing off cooking tutorials on Instagram.
Aquavit’s Chef Emma Bengstton’s Vegan Baked Potato
Slice Idaho potatoes in half, add olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven with whole garlic cloves for 45 minutes at 350°.
Cut tomatoes in half, scoop out the center, add chopped shallots, thyme, salt, olive oil, and pepper. Add to the oven for about 15 minutes.
Blend chickpeas with shallots and thyme.
Scoop out the potato filling to make room for the tomato. Place tomato in the middle. Fill tomato with chickpea mixture. Cover with almond slices and basil. It’s ready to eat!
Atoboy’s Chef Junghyun Park’s Burdock Gimbap
Peel and julienne fresh burdock. Braise with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Remove from the pan, and sauté julienned carrots in the same pan with the burdock oil. Julienne danmuji (Korean pickled radish). To assemble, add rice to the middle of a piece of seaweed, add burdock, carrots, and danmuji, and roll like a log.
Who’s feeling inspired by the refreshingly accessible and vegan foods that these chefs are serving?
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Photo: Grazia USA via Instagram; Vogue Magazine via Instagram