Tag Archives: vegan

Culinary Activist Jay Astafa Stages Coup D’état on NYC Foodie Scene with Jay Kitchen Vegan Fine Dining Pop-Up

[New York, NY]  Breakout chef Jay Astafa will be sharing a sneak peek of his latest vegan fine dining concept, jay kitchen, at a two-day pop-up on April 25th & 26th at 7pm at New York’s Old Bowery Station (168 Bowery, New York, NY 10012 MAP). Tickets to the jay kitchen pop-up are available through Eventbrite.com HERE for $95 and include an 8-course tasting menu and complementary wine and beverages (read the full menu HERE).

Astafa’s concept —one that fuses modern techniques with a sensible focus on the inherent beauty of spring vegetables— is the latest chapter in the culinary career he began at age 16, when he revitalized his father’s Long Island pizzeria, 3 Brothers Pizza Café, by introducing a vegan adaptation of the family’s traditional Italian fare. Astafa describes his work as “culinary activism” for animals, for the environment, and towards healthier communities. The jay kitchen two-day pop-up will be a preview of what discerning NYC foodies can expect from the culinary activist’s flagship downtown Manhattan restaurant, of the same name, slated to open in late 2013.

Celebrating Spring Vegetables

While most NYC vegan attractions revel in their unique abilities to create replications of meat and dairy dishes through the use of soy and wheat-based analogs, jay kitchen will revisit the roots of vegetarian sensibilities and present dishes that celebrate the vegetables themselves. Astafa honors the fact that it was these same soy-heavy vegan comfort foods made 3 Brothers a destination restaurant for vegans across the country, gained him a cult following, and earned him features in The New York Times, and CBS Nightly News, but he also is eager to show the world that vegan fine dining is not only possible …it can also be an amazing experience. Those dining at the jay kitchen pop-up will experience an 8-course tasting menu with brilliant displays of spring vegetables, hand-made cashew bries, butters and pastas (with gluten free options), braided with modern culinary techniques like Astafa’s balsamic caviar (a molecular gastronomy creation) and playful highlights like “smoking” liquid nitrogen infused caramel corn balls (a testimonial to Astafa’s youth amidst a sophisticated dining experience). For dessert courses Astafa will be collaborating with his close friend, vegan pastry chef, Dani McGrath.

Changing the World for Animals, One Plate at a Time

Animal rights activism has been a longtime passion for Astafa. At 16 his freedom to experiment with resources at his family’s restaurant gave Astafa an opportunity to carve himself out a unique niche in the world of animal advocacy. Astafa seeks to use his culinary activism to show the world that vegan food can be elegant, delicious, and fun, all at once. “It’s all about high quality ingredients that are used to create a vegan fine dining experience” says Astafa. “I love this concept because people don’t usually connect fine dining and vegan together. It’s my mission as a vegan chef to show people that you can have fun gourmet dining experience that doesn’t harm any animals.” Both Astafa & McGrath understand that food trends are governed, at times, by no more than a handful of tastemakers, that these tastemakers can have a profound impact on the way people make food choices, and that our food choices directly impact the lives of animals and the natural environment. For Astafa, jay kitchen is a Coup D’état aimed at subverting NYC tastemakers with lavish vegan cuisine.

About Jay Astafa » Jay Astafa is a 20-year-old, vegan chef with a passion for creating innovative dishes. When he was only 16 Jay created a vegan menu for his father’s Italian restaurant, 3 Brothers Pizza Cafe, where his plant-based adaptations of Italian classics quickly drew a cult following. At age 18 Jay graduated from New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute and developed an affinity for modern culinary techniques. Jay plans to open a vegan fine dining restaurant in New York in Fall 2013.

About Dani McGrath » Dani McGrath is a 23-year-old, vegan and gluten-free baking enthusiast. Like Astafa, Dani McGrath has merged her culinary expertise with her love of animal activism, often donating her celebrated pastries to benefit local shelters and non-profits.

To request high resolution images of Jay Astafa’s culinary creations, or to arrange an interview with Jay Astafa contact Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010. A small quantity of comp tickets are available for press who wish to attend the jay kitchen pop-up, please send an email indicating your outlet to andy@sparrowmedia.net

Vegucated Releases International DVD in Conjunction with NYC #ClimateWeek & Vegetarian Awareness Month

Vegucated Releases International DVD in Conjunction with NYC #ClimateWeek & Vegetarian Awareness Month

[NEW YORK, NY] Award-winning eco foodie documentary Vegucated continues striking a chord with viewers at environmental film festivals around the world. It is available digitally, on DVD and for community screenings licensing worldwide in celebration of Vegetarian Awareness Month (October) and International Vegan Month (November).

Vegucated features three meat and cheese lovers who agree to accept the challenge to abandon their old eating habits and become vegan for six weeks. Hopeful the change will result in a healthier lifestyle and trimmer waistline, these volunteers  —Ellen, Tesla & Brian— are surprised to discover that much more than steak at stake and that the fate of the planet may well fall on their plates.

Thought-provoking and always entertaining, Vegucated takes viewers on an eye-opening journey of transformation far beyond a few tofu food substitutions as three daring people share one common adventure and ultimately find their own paths in creating a greener, cleaner world, one bite at a time.  To celebrate the growing global awareness of veganism, Vegucated debuts a new, international edition DVD this Autumn. The new edition features subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish and Traditional Chinese. The DVD is available in select Whole Food Markets and other retailers around the country as well as through the Vegucated website HERE.

One year after its world premiere and first award, Vegucated received its Caribbean premiere in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic as a selection of the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival. This is the eighth film festival and the fifth environmental film festival that has selected the film.

Closing out the annual NYC Climate Week (September 24th -30th), Vegucated  joins up with award-winning short “What’s For Dinner?” (shot in China) for a double-feature free screening sponsored by VegFund. Tickets are free and first come, first serve to the public with general admission. Remaining tickets are available at vegucatedbrightergreen.eventbrite.com. This free screening is Saturday, September 29th, 1 to 4 pm at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Avenue. Executive Producer Mia McDonald (“Dinner”) and writer–director Marisa Miller Wolfson (“Vegucated”) will do a Q&A post-screening.

On Monday, October 1, Yippie Museum & Cafe asks “Are You Vegucated?”. To celebrate World Vegetarian Day along with Meatless Mondays, YMC screens locally-made Vegucated and serves dinner beforehand. Sweets will be provided afterwards along with a filmmakers Q&A. Dinner will be cooked by local vegan chef–caterer David Lee Hall of Harmony Kitchen NYC.

For more information about Vegucated, visit http://getvegucated.com Press kits are available in .pdf format HERE.  Screeners and cast/crew interviews are available upon request.


VeganCorner Is Building A Grassroots Nexus Between Vegans & Local Businesses

VeganCorner Is Building A Grassroots Nexus Between Vegans & Local Businesses

[LONG BEACH, CA] Two animal rights activists-turned-entrepreneures, Nathan & Adriana Pope, have announced a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo.com to help finance the hard-launch of their one-of-a-kind website VeganCorner.com. VeganCorner serves as the vegan’s answer to the popular reviews website Yelp* and also acts as a social platform where vegans can support each other’s choices with user-submitted recommendations of new eco-concious and cruelty-free products. VeganCorner users can also submit vegan-relevant event listings, share news about their favorite non-profit, or share recipes and other helpful resources with vegans and vegan-curious visitors alike.

Moreover, with an extensive database of over 12,000 profiles for restaurants, cafes, and shops that offer vegan products, VeganCorner provides businesses with an opportunity to engage in direct outreach with a previously hard to pin down, and yet exceptionally loyal niche market of dedicated vegans. Marketing through VeganCorner is multi-directional as users of the VeganCorner website and soon to be released mobile app will be driven towards businesses offering vegan options, while window clings at participating businesses will drive traffic to the VeganCorner website. Nathan and Adriana each hope that this direct marketing process will not only help to make vegan and eco-concious items more accessible, but will also incentivize businesses to provide even more vegan options.

Whether you’re trying to locate the nearest raw cafe, a tattoo shop with fish-free inks, a salon that carries Eco-friendly hair products, or want to find a nearby animal sanctuary, it’s all in one spot. VeganCorner soft-launched in December as a limited field test and is now moving into the next stages of development.

Co-founder, Adriana Pope states, “VeganCorner was created as a way to make being vegan easier. We found that despite huge jumps in available technology there still wasn’t anything that was created specifically for vegans. Some sites incorporated vegan-friendly options into their results but lacked practicality. You still had to weed through mostly irrelevant results that didn’t cater specifically to our needs. Over the past couple of months we have listened intently to the feedback and suggestions of our users and have created a road map of the next steps that are needed to bring this site to where it needs to be.”

Founders Nate and Adriana, have spent the last two years building VeganCorner.com as a free resource for vegans all across the world looking for cruelty-free options. They’ve taken it as far as they can on their own and now they need your help to take VeganCorner to the next level.

Why do they need money?
Nate and Adriana have been supporting the website with their day jobs, but it’s clear that the website needs the supplemental help of an additional programmer to provide users an effortless experience as they browse listings and contribute to the VeganCorner community. Their funding goal is $10,000 which will go towards three specific areas:
• Hiring a programmer with a background in User Experience (UI/UX), who will be able to polish the website so it looks and feels great in both functionality and usability.
• Producing & distributing window clings so that you can easily locate restaurants and shops with vegan options by looking for their colorful sticker that says “Discover Vegan Options.”
• Creating a FREE smart-phone app which will help you locate all the nearest vegan options in your hometown or afar.

How can you help?
Go to IndieGoGo.com and donate some money, anything helps. There are different pledge levels to meet your budget with rewards such as t-shirts, tote-bags, secret potluck invitations, and even ad sponsorship opportunities to name a few. If this is a project that piques your interest, please understand that it will not be possible to carry out without your financial support or word-of-mouth. Also, please share this campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and your blog if you have one, and tell your friends about it.

“VeganCorner is an amazing new structure for connecting ethical businesses with those who care about living a lifestyle that makes the world a better place for animals… it’s a great way to directly get us in touch & grow the vegan market to show the world how wonderful and easy it is to be compassionate and cruelty free,” says Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, owner of Vaute Couture, the first vegan fashion label for winter dress coats warm enough for below freezing weather.

Vegancorner.com, is a resource for vegans searching for a cruelty-free place to dine, shop or hang out at. For additional information on Vegan Corner or to request an interview with Nathan & Adriana Pope email Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or contact pr@vegancorner.com

Help Chef Ayinde Spread His Vegan Message on Bravo Television!

Help Chef Ayinde Spread His Vegan Message on Bravo Television!

Ever since Chef Ayinde Howell partnered with Sparrow Media to bring us his Wildflower Vegan Pop-Up, there has been a groundswell of press attention highlighting Ayinde’s cruelty-free contribution to the grassroots pop-up phenomena. From write-ups in The New York Times, to features on New York Magazine‘s “Grub Street”, this recent press push has helped to further mainstream vegan ideals, raise questions about our nations continued reliance on animal husbandry despite amazing vegan options, and all the while help make a name for this breakout chef.

Following the surge of press attention Bravo Television has asked Ayinde to compete on their reality dinner party show “Rocco’s Dinner Party.” Ayinde will make his Bravo appearance tonight (Wednesday 7/13/2011) at 10pm EST, 9pm Central and we as a movement of compassionate activists should use this opportunity to send a message to Bravo that we want them to have an increased vegan focus in their program mix.

Bravo TV’s website features a user contributed content forum called “twitter battles.” We invite you to join us as we participate in one of these battles during and around the show’s airing to reign in the narrative on their twitter forum by tweeting links about vegan outreach, and tweets emphasizing your interest in Bravo’s continued commitment to vegan programming.

Here are a few ways you can help…

1.) Access the twitter battle & read tutorials on how to participate at this LINK. Then log on and start tweeting. The possibilities are endless but here are two examples that you can feel free to ad-lib as you like.

I wish @roccodispirito  on @bravotv featured more #vegan chefs like Chef @AYINDE

Want to know why @AYINDE is #vegan ? – [insert link to vegan resource here]

2.) You can share the LINK to the twitter battle on your facebook page, tumblr, or twitter accounts and encourage your friends to get involved in the twitter battle as well.

3.) Tell friends & family that “Rocco’s Dinner Party” on the Bravo network will be featuring the vegan culinary stylings of chef Ayinde Howell.

4.) You can also leave Bravo a comment thanking them for featuring a vegan chef and suggest they do it more often HERE



Crowd-Funded Pop-Up, Wildflower Serves 28 Courses of Vegan Gourmet at NYC’s LTO June 10th-12th

Crowd-Funded Pop-Up, Wildflower Serves 28 Courses of Vegan Gourmet at NYC’s LTO June 10th-12th

New York, NY — Wildflower is a one-of-a-kind crowd-funded pop-up restaurant that will be bringing 28 courses of the finest plant-based cuisine all with a summer grilling motif to discerning New Yorkers over June 10th-12th, 2011.  Just like the short-lived beauty of blossoming annuals in the field, Wildflower is here today and gone tomorrow.  Complementing the ever-growing trend of food trucks, pop-up restaurants are proving to be breakout venues for some of foods finest artisans and tastemakers. Wildflower will pop-up at New York’s exclusive LTO (Limited Time Only) located at 171 East Broadway and for three days will take patrons on a 28 course journey that will traverse a landscape of diverse vegan cuisine ranging from soul food to raw fusion to a vegan street food tasting menu. Brunch will be served on Saturday and Sunday morning June 11th and 12th, drawing from the menu of Ayinde’s popular monthly Brooklyn Petit Dejeuner, Waffle Brunch, which has already gathered a cult-like following by Williamsburg hipsters, vegans, and foodies alike. Crowd-funded through kickstarter.com, Wildflower is a direct response to the demand of New Yorkers who want to see gourmet vegan dining with an upscale  atmosphere in lower Manhattan.  An opening reception with celebrity guests, style icons, and giveaways from Vaute Couture, The Ethical Man, and Evolve Jewelry will follow Friday night’s dinner. A full menu is available HERE.

“Vegan food that is remarkably tasty and robust” —ELAINE LOUIE, The New York Times

Reservations can be arranged at http://wildflowerpopup.eventbrite.com . Seating is limited so reservations are encouraged, but walk-up customers will be seated as space permits.

About Chef Ayinde Howell
Ayinde Howell is an entrepreneur, executive vegan chef and founder of http://ieatgrass.com He has a background in a variety of vegan fare covering soul food, raw, and new American have been featured in the New York Times and Time Out New York.  Ayinde got his start in Seattle as co-owner of Hillside Quickies Vegan Sandwich Shop, an offshoot of his family’s business. Hillside Quickies became a popular lunch spot known for blasting hip hop during the crowded rushes and being frequented by patrons like The Roots, Saul Williams, Common and Erykah Badu.  Since his arrival in New York, Howell has served as a health consultant to celebrities, acted as executive chef at Jivamukti Yoga School, cooked for media mogul Russell Simmons, and has demoed his vegan cooking on BET’s popular ‘106 & Park’ music hour.

To arrange an interview with Chef Ayinde Howell, to arrange a tasting, or to obtain high-resolution images of his culinary creations please contact Andy Stepanian at 631.291.3010 or email press@sparrowmedia.net