Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, a fairly new East Village vegetarian restaurant, royally pissed people off and caused a lot of controversy in a couple of interviews of late. I just read both of Little Miss Cohen's interviews, and I now believe that I understand what's going on. There are several facets.
1) She is either not very bright or is a terrible, terrible speaker. Some people get extremely nervous when being interviewed, and maybe she's one of those. But it cannot be denied that she said some things, particularly in the feedbag.com interview, that cannot be forgiven. Specifically, when the interviewer stated that "vegetarian restaurants are always terrible", she responded with the following:
"Always! They’re horrible. Horrible! And you know why? Because they don’t have real cooks. The people who cook there have no culinary background; with this kind of food, you really have to know how to cook."
Really? I mean really? First of all, has this girl eaten at every vegetarian restaurant EVER? Second, has she collected the resumes and CVs of the members of each of their kitchens? Third, you can have all the opinions you want girlie, but don't go badmouthing your fellow business owners and chefs IN PRINT. Bad form in a big way.
2) She is not a vegetarian (eats fish), obviously hates vegan food, doesn't understand why vegans are vegan, and has little to no intention of providing food for us. As she told Gothamist, "...they’re vegan. And that’s not the way I like to eat. I like cheese and dairy." Clear enough to me.
3) Her restaurant is for vegetarians and omnis, not for vegans. From the feedbag.com interview, "You know, we definitely use cream, we use butter in the [portobello mousse] dish. So it's like 'Ooh! I’m eating something that’s so dense and heavy and fattening but it’s so good.' And that’s not something you get in a lot of vegetarian [read: vegan] food, particularly because they don’t use dairy." Uh, ok, sure. Apparently Miss Cohen has never heard of a mysterious substance called avocado?
Since she openly states that she thinks all of her best dishes are those made with dairy and eggs, why would I go to this restaurant? Particularly when there are, I dunno, a gajillion restaurants within a stone's throw from her place that have awesome food for me, why in the world would I give this woman my money?
Simply put, I won't.