Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy - Biography

New York, NY

August 2014

Amanda Cohen didn’t get into the food business to make vegetarian cuisine cool, polished, or otherwise culturally assertive; it just so happens she did that anyway. After graduating from New York’s Natural Gourmet Cookery School Chef’s Training Program, Cohen worked in some of the city’s most esteemed vegetarian (and veggie-forward) restaurants, including Angelica’s Kitchen, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Blanche’s Organic CafĂ©, Other Foods, Diner Bar, Teany, Pure Food and Wine, and Heirloom (which won Time Out New York’s Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” under Cohen’s leadership).

After consulting for vegan restaurant Blossom and for Broadway East, Cohen decided she was ready to take the leap and open her own restaurant. Dirt Candy quickly emerged as a one-of-a-kind, a gem of a restaurant built on green philosophies that unapologetically treated vegetables as the main event.

The structure of the restaurant, meanwhile, backs up Cohen’s philosophies: all of the equipment is LEED-certified; Cohen used sustainable material to build everything, and her induction burner lets off less heat—a major savings and a plus in a restaurant that’s so small. Earning many deserved plaudits for her cooking, including a 2009 Rising Stars Award, Cohen published the Dirt Candy cookbook in 2012, and recently inaugurated a food issues column, “Dispatches from Dirt Candy,” for Eater.