Long Island, and the state of New York as a whole, is no stranger to talented, promising vegan chefs who can’t help but stir up a buzz with their delicious culinary creations. From Jay Astafa, the young vegan chef who convinced his father to let him curate a vegan menu at his family’s pizzeria, Three Brothers Pizza Cafe in Farmingdale, NY and now current creator of the first all vegan restaurant on Long Island, 3 Brothers Vegan Cafe in Copiague, NY to Brooklyn native, vegan food magician and author of vegan cookbook staples like Veganomicon and Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, there is undeniably no lack of vegan food masters in The Empire State. This same culinary talent, and creative flare for food and flavor,  can be seen and experienced with Elyse Clark, the vegan chef at Batata Cafe in Northport, NY.

The Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas from Batata Cafe, NY.

Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas from Batata Cafe.

Q: When did you first know that you wanted to become a chef? And a vegan one at that!
A: I quickly realized after adopting a vegan lifestyle that in order to stay healthy I
would need to be able to prepare a few simple plant-based dishes. From lack of desire I had never cooked much before, but now out of necessity I found myself enjoying the entire process of cooking – the sounds, smells, tastes, looks, textures and the balance of technical skills and creative whim. I wanted to be a vegan chef because I want to help people have access to healthier food choices. We have a short time on this planet and I wanted to do something meaningful.

Q: How did you get your start at Batata Cafe as their vegan chef?
A: I would periodically check craigslist for personal chef jobs and one day I came across an ad from Batata Cafe looking for a vegan chef. I went in the next day to interview with the owner, Nicole Offermann, she has been an amazing boss and mentor to me ever since!

Butternut Squash Mac-N-Cheeze with Roasted Broccoli & Tempeh Bacun.

Butternut Squash Mac-N-Cheeze with Roasted Broccoli & Tempeh Bacun from Batata Cafe.

Q: What is it about raw, vegan food that you love so much?
A: I love how good you feel after eating raw vegan food! You literally feel like a well- (coconut) oiled machine – no fatigue, no bloat, no brain fog. I focus more on this way of eating for breakfast and lunch, leaving the cooked food for dinner (and dessert!) I found the key to maintaining this is balance and forgiveness.

Q: Are there any vegan chefs specifically who have inspired you and your culinary work?
A: The cookbooks of vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz have guided and inspired me since my first fumblings in the kitchen, but I am most inspired by the other vegan chefs on Long Island, to be a part of this budding community of vegan trailblazers is supremely inspiring and pretty darn amazing!!

Q: If you had to pick only one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
A: This is the hardest question I have ever had to answer and upon (too much) thought I would choose… freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (vegan, of course!)

Yum! Now I am seriously craving some ooey, gooey vegan chocolate chip cookies.

Chef Elyse hard at work in the kitchen.

Want to find out more about Vegan Chef Elyse Clark? Check out her website, find her on social media and make your way over to Batata Cafe in Northport to try out her delicious dishes for yourself. Chef Elyse is also a health coach, she provides personal chef services, and she leads cooking classes for groups and/or individuals!