Vegan Caribbean Soul Foodstuff Cafe Serious Veggie Cafe Opens in Jamaica, Queens

Merna Delaurentis

The vegan boom in New York proceeds with this month’s opening of the spouse and children-operate Serious Veggie Cafe in Jamaica, Queens, which focuses on a mashup of southern Black American soul food stuff and Caribbean delicacies based mostly on meat-absolutely free cooking. Located at 106-13 Male R Brewer Boulevard, […]

The vegan boom in New York proceeds with this month’s opening of the spouse and children-operate Serious Veggie Cafe in Jamaica, Queens, which focuses on a mashup of southern Black American soul food stuff and Caribbean delicacies based mostly on meat-absolutely free cooking. Located at 106-13 Male R Brewer Boulevard, it joins a select team of vegan Caribbean eating places these as Richmond Hill’s Veggie Castle II and Crown Heights’s Ital Kitchen area BK, which specializes in Rastafarian food.

Double-battered mushroom nuggets
Courtesy of True Veggie Cafe

Listed here, chef and operator Hulando Shaw cooks soul foods classics like fried rooster, black eyed peas, and collard greens, and Caribbean staples like jerk rooster, rice and peas, and ackee and saltfish — all with a vegan riff. Consider for occasion: double-battered mushroom nuggets ($10-15, as an appetizer or in a bowl format) that could simply move as fried rooster wings. He dips oyster mushrooms into moist and dry batters made up of Caribbean spices like allspice, black pepper, turmeric, and thyme ahead of pulling and squeezing them alongside one another to resemble rooster. They’re currently made available in 3 flavors: jerk, barbecue, and sweet warmth that is fueled by Scotch bonnets. Ackee, a pulpy fruit linked to lychee and vital to Jamaican food items, is another taste that will debut soon.

The vegan, cross-cultural fusion also seems in Shaw’s black-eyed stew peas, traditionally built with pink kidney beans in Jamaica ($5 side dish) a “pulled pork” sandwich with shredded jackfruit baked in a barbecue sauce ($10 with fries) and “salting”, a soybean protein that replaces the traditional salt fish, and comes with a preference of ackee or callaloo (component of a $15 Sunday brunch menu). He also programs to from time to time offer you mushroom-based mostly “oxtail stew” and mock jerk hen.

The chef Hulando Shaw stands behind a counter at Real Veggie Cafe

Hulando Shaw (l) is the chef of Genuine Veggie Cafe
Caroline Shin

The broad-ranging menu attracts from Shaw’s cultural history, spiritual apply, and concentration on neighborhood. By age 10, Shaw claims he “ran boats” in St. Andrew Parish, 5 miles north of Kingston. “All the young men would get with each other, and every person would be in charge of cooking various factors,” states Shaw, who extra that this tradition of youthful adult men collecting outdoors to cook dinner and consume jointly laid the foundation for his long term as a chef.

Following pursuing his mother to Jamaica, Queens, in 1995, his devotion to the Protestant Christian denomination of Seventh-Day Adventism, which emphasizes individual wellbeing and eating plan, led him to change to an all plant-based diet program in 2004. “I began wanting at the system and how the physique was made, and how it can heal itself” with “the ideal fuel,” Shaw states. “It’s just like a car or truck. If the motor vehicle necessitates you to set typical unleaded, and you are putting diesel in your body — in your automobile — then what will occur is that the motor vehicle will truly shift but it will ultimately break down. And that’s exactly where the plant-centered diet program will come in.”

Shaw commenced cooking his vegan Caribbean recipes for church meetings. From there, his culinary job took off. In 2007, he began his Real Veggie catering enterprise in Laurelton, Queens, and took over a variety of chef roles at Andrews University in Michigan and Laurelbrook Academy in Tennessee. He returned to New York in 2017 to create a brick-and-mortar procedure in Island Park, Long Island, which he closed through the pandemic and transitioned to weekly pop-ups.

“I bought sick in January of 2020 so we resolved that we have to reevaluate,” Shaw suggests. “We identified a actually awesome room in Lynbrook [Long Island] that authorized us to truly do pop-ups for the duration of this COVID time.”

A bowl of vegan food

Serious Veggie Cafe’s menu attracts from Caribbean and Black American soul foodstuff classics
Courtesy of Serious Veggie Cafe

Local community is a pillar of Shaw’s get the job done. Very last year, he served cook and deliver around a thousand foods for every 7 days to the people and essential staff of southeast Queens by means of his partnerships with Queens With each other, Black Useful resource Community, New York Condition Senator Leroy Comrie’s place of work, and his church in their shared mission to fight food items insecurity in the borough, when the epicenter of the pandemic. In early 2021, Shaw launched his True Veggie cooking college, the place he teaches small children ages 8 to 12, mostly from the Caribbean countries of Jamaica, Trinidad, and St. Vincent how to cook vegan foods. “If you train a youngster how to cook healthier from the beginning, they will in fact continue a healthy exercise, likely onwards.”

Close to the same time, Shaw took over the lease of a restaurant formerly owned by a colleague who asked that he protect the soul foods notion and go on to feed Jamaica’s predominantly Black American local community.

“So which is how I blended my Caribbean roots with a soul food idea,” Shaw suggests. “Let’s in fact open a cafe and fulfill a community where by they are.”

Genuine Veggie Cafe is found at 106-13 Man R Brewer Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. Hrs: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.

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