Dear Amanda Cohen, proprietor of the recently opened NYC restaurant Dirt Candy


nothing to do with Dirt Candy, just the old obligatory food picture

Yo lady! You seem rad! You’re a friend of my friend farmer Jessica, and we all went to the same cooking school! I’ve been excited to try your super-rad looking restaurant! We even have the same magical induction stove (and I also had to send mine back twice –they truly are insanely finicky)! I fucking adore your restaurant name!! I sorta want to change my middle name from Pauline to Dirt Candy, FOR REALS! Vegetables, I get ya.

But this, come on now. This is the kind of stuff you say to your bestest veggie friends, the people you trust to understand the context in which you are speaking, one of love and concern and care. The kind of stuff you say winkingly after a couple of Manhattans to your true BFFs.

Don’t say shit like you’ve been saying to reporters! They misunderstand your care and concern, you know? Your essential trying-to-make-a-larger-point-ness.

Lets stick together, lady!

And plus, you’re just flat out wrong! “All vegetarian restaurants are horrible”? You’re lumping Pukk and Hangawi and Millennium and Pure Food and Wine in there with Dojo and Kate’s Joint and Whole Earth Bakery and Caravan? That’s just wack.

Also, just a warning: don’t you know that vegans are the most intensely loyal restaurant patrons you’ll ever find? We are also crazyass gossipers, and NEVER forget a grudge. Vegans can make or break restaurants, especially NYC ones! We have networks!

I know you’re trying super hard to appeal to the giant nonvegan food press and restaurant going public, but this is all going to backfire on you. And I don’t want it to, because you look like you’re an absolutely amazing chef and I want to go to your restaurant forever.

You can do better!

(And also, not to be annoying, but you were the first “chef” at Teany? I ADORE Teany, but my friend, sandwich making does not a chef make. The BLT is lovely, but STILL.)

13 Responses to “Dear Amanda Cohen, proprietor of the recently opened NYC restaurant Dirt Candy”

  1. Dustin Rhodes

    I have offended several of my (vegan) friends by agreeing with, what I think are, Amanda Cohen’s sentiments. Indeed, there ARE a lot of terrible vegan restaurants—all over the place (certainly, it’s not limited to NYC). And it’s true that it might be because people who don’t know anything about cooking open up restaurants because of their ethics. But where I disagree: this should be lauded, not mocked and derided. Good heavens: what if ~everyone~ did this? That said, Amanda Cohen could certainly stand to learn the fine art of constructive criticism, rather than sounding like an arrogant, insulting moron. I sure as heck am not giving Dirt Candy any of my money. No thank you. I can deep fry my own vegetables, if I am ever so inclined.

    I think vegans need to be carefully critical of vegan restaurants if we want others to be inspired. We don’t want anyone thinking that Caravan of (Broken) Dreams is indicative of a vegan meal, for goodness’ sakes, or that non-vegan Dirt Candy is the alternative.

  2. brittany

    mmmm… ok she totally shouldn’t be mean to the vegans but i wanna go there!!! it looks fab!!!

  3. lagusta

    Caravan of Broken Dreams!!!! Hilarious! I worked there once for ONE DAY. It was ridiculous.

    I actually think there are lots of terrible vegan restaurants because there are lots of terrible restaurants, period. My god, there are so many horrible restaurants out there, vegan and not!

  4. Critic

    “Mean to the vegans” you must be joking.?! Vegans are not exactly the most congenial and polite bunch — kind to animals, yes, but rude to anyone who disagrees with them (Why I do not not call myself a vegan though for all intents and purposes I am one.)

    I think sometimes we just look for reasons to take offense, anger-addiction – it’s a real problem in the vegan community.

    • JustJack

      Wow, way to lump everyone into the same pile. It’s nice to see that people
      Are open minded and no sterotyping others. Please take a second to think about what you had to say in your comment how it reflects on you.

  5. lagusta

    That may be, but, uh, two wrongs don’t make a right, darling.
    And I think that while vegans might sometimes go a little insane out of understandable revolutionary zeal, this is one instance in which Ms. Cohen really is being unnecessarily ridiculous.

  6. brittany

    vegans have been mean to me, as a lowly vegetarian. and it makes me feel bad. so, the way i look at it, is if people stop being mean to vegans, vegans will stop being mean to everyone else! i don’t justify counteracting their meanness with MORE meanness because it might just make them feel bad, too!

  7. Critic

    Lagusto, You’re taking offense where none was meant. “Two wrongs do not make a right” you proclaim. But was it “wrong” what Amanda said (whatever that is) You and many others might interpret it as wrong, but that doesn’t mean it is. She, Amanda, can say whatever she wants in her interview, just as you say whatever you want.

    Vegans are not “special” but I think many of us have this deep-rooted desire to be different, to stand-out and therefore become over-identified, emotionally attached to BEING VEGAN. A person can be vegan and compassionate and open-minded and non-judgemental.

    So what if Amanda thinks all vegetarian restaurants suck. She probably didn’t even mean that. Read between the lines, darlin — just as you expect others to do. If readers took everything seriously on this blog, you’d be locked up for inciting violence and hatred. Just kidding, sweetheart.

  8. lagusta

    1) Oh come on, don’t make fun of my name.

    2) In my eyes, obviously, she was wrong. Obviously she “can say whatever she wants,” I wasn’t saying she couldn’t. I was just being helpful to a fellow chef! Always helpful, I am.

    3) I understand your whole thing about not being part of the special people vegan club, and it’s OK. I won’t take offense to the fact that you are personally judging me and assuming I am one of the vegans of which you speak without knowing me and how I act around nonvegans (Brittany, for example, could point out that I’ve never said one word to her about not being vegan. In fact, I didn’t even know she was vegetarian until she commented on this post, and I see her all the damn time. We’ve never talked about it.).

    The point is: I am awesome and don’t get my feathers ruffled too easily.

    4) If you reread my post, I very clearly said that I DID read between the lines, and when reading between the lines I agreed to a certain extent, but said that REPORTERS DO NOT. Again, my post explains all this.

    5) If she probably didn’t mean that all veggie restaurants suck, she probably shouldn’t have said that all vegetarian restaurants are “horrible.”

    As you are clearly her friend or, most likely, her, please let her know that in the future, the best way to avoid sounding like you said something is not to say it.

    You know what she should do now? Just apologize to the damn vegan community and move on. Vegans (we’re all alike so I can speak for all of us) would respect her then. This backpedaling is useless.

    6) Even though you were joking, I take super seriously the claim that anything I’ve ever said could incite violence. Please provide specific examples and I will more carefully explain my positions. I have very strong opinions, but I am a deep believer in the practice of nonviolence, and, truly, do not want to appear to incite violence.

    The same with hatred. I might say I “fucking loathe” something, but if you poke around a bit, you might notice that I try really hard not to say I “hate” something. It was my New Year’s Resolution of 2006. ;) I didn’t follow it all the time, but hatred is not to be fucked around with, and I try not to dip into it.

    We’re in Bush’s America for another few days, and I take it extremely seriously when people joke around about people being locked up for expressing their freedom of speech. No joke.

    However, I absolutely HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE MAKE FUN OF MY NAME.

  9. Dustin Rhodes

    What is it with the constant assertion that the only kind of decent vegan is one who shuts the heck up about it?

    That said, I try not to ever proselytize (I hope I spelled that right) or even make a big deal about it, because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. It’s definitely not because I am ashamed, or because I don’t think it needs to be talked about.

    Plus, I don’t think I’m special for being vegan. I don’t think any vegan should. Many of us vegans don’t think we are doing anything special by being vegan in the first place; I sure don’t. I don’t think of it as the ~most~ I can do; I think of it as the ~least~ I can do; I apply that to all humans: I want people to become vegan because it’s the least we can do. That’s a crucial difference.

  10. lagusta

    My darling Dustin, I think we share one brain. I also think I’m in love with you. Does that mean I’m too egotistical?

    It is so true that while people who aren’t vegan think vegans are “extreme,” most vegans think of veganism as one small thing one can do to be a conscious person in this unconscious world.

    My mom always says that people like “critic” up there react so harshly to something as simple and as small as veganism because people like us bring up something in them they are not proud of…

    Also, have you ever noticed that vegans never really talk about veganism together? I had some vegans over recently, all of us super long term vegans, and I was thinking about how when we’re together we, amazingly, don’t sit around talking about how we’re all so awesome all the time. The longer you are vegan, the less you think about being vegan. It’s just a small part of who you are.

  11. Dustin Rhodes

    First of all, I am in love with you, too.

    Secondly, people don’t realize that we vegans aren’t obsessed with being vegans (outside of having to ask polite questions in restaurants). Now, when I am at a vegan friend’s house for dinner (like I was last week) and someone busts out with an amazing marsala sauce for their homemade seitan, you can bet your vegan ass that I am going to ask for detailed instruction. Plus, I might share something I myself created accidentally during the course of my attempts to cook without the use of recipe books (which I rely too heavily upon and have thus become not-so-creative in the kitchen). But that’s about as far as it goes.

    I must be hanging out in a different universe than “critic,” because almost every vegan I know is incredibly kind and would give you the organic hemp shirt right off her back.


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