Hugo Uys’ bio pic by Karl Simone
By Naveen Duwadi
Each month Chef Hugo dives into the best of the ever-changing NYC food scene, offering up his top 5 restaurant discoveries. Going along for the ride, he’ll interview a noted South African celebrity, getting to know them over a great food and delicious conversation. Want to eat and drink like a New Yorker? Keep your eyes on this page.
[The Guest] In Conversation with Marc Bouwer
Photo by You In Pictures
South African designer, animal rights activist and hard-core vegan, Marc Bouwer’s dietary beliefs have gone beyond the kitchen. One of the first international designers to stop production of fur and leather garments, Marc’s celebrated cruelty-free designs, like himself are svelte and full of life.
Sitting down at the Michelin-starred vegan restaurant, NIX, in NYC’s landmarked Greenwich Village neighbourhood, Chef Hugo caught up with Marc over cocktails and innovative, vegetable-driven dishes.
As a vegan, you’ve must have had some pretty interesting meals at less than accommodating NYC restaurants. Have any stuck with you?
Here’s a tip: it’s all about the sides. Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, beans, roasted potatoes and salads are my go-to’s when eating out with friends. The only trick is to make sure none of the items are cooked in butter or have a sprinkling of cheese on them. If it’s my choice of restaurant, you’ll typically find me at Mexican or Middle Eastern places–there are so many ways to eat vegan at them.
What’s your version of a pint of vanilla ice cream that you crave at midnight?
Being vegan doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every once in a while. Cashew ice cream is basically guilt-free heaven. Van Leeuwen makes the most incredible vegan ice cream flavours.
Between the shows and dressing celebrities around the country, a home cooked meal might seem like a mirage to many in the fashion industry. What’s your secret?
When I became vegan several years ago, part of my journey was intense detective work–forcing me to cook meals that were quick and easy to fit my schedule, but also filled with the right nutrition to keep me going. And truthfully, I found that the less cooked food I consume, the better. It’s the heat that destroys a lot of the nutrients in food, so for me, I try to eat as much raw food as possible. With that in mind, my blender is my lifeline. I wake up and typically have a vegetable-heavy shake with fruits and seeds. I found that lots of pineapple and filtered water can really disguise the taste of any vegetable. One thing I learned that really stuck with me is to drink freshly blended juices immediately after making them rather than storing them in the fridge. After 15 minutes or so, most of what you’d be drinking has already turned to sugar.
How has the way you eat affected other parts of your life – personal or professional?
Becoming a vegan was the most important choice I’ve made as far as my health and body are concerned. I’ve seemed to heal myself through the food I’m eating (and more importantly, food I’m no longer eating). I have more energy, more strength at the gym and my skin feels completely renewed. Not bad for someone over 50!
How about three vegan dishes for the non-vegan?
You can pack a lot of flavour in plant-based dishes. Some of my favourites are my quickest to whip up. Brussels sprouts with chopped Vidalia onion, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, crushed roasted cashews and fresh lemon juice, is a fantastic dish to share with larger groups. My favourite salad is shaved fennel with arugula, apple slices and a lemon dijon garlic vinaigrette with black pepper. To make it a little extra, I add in citrus slides and vegan cheese. Gazpacho is also super easy to make and packed with nutrients. I puree all the ingredients for my gazpacho in my blender, then dice cucumber, grape tomatoes, cilantro, and fresh raw sweet corn to create a little crunch on top of the soup, and garnish with fresh avocado chunks. It’s always a winner.
I’d be crazy if I didn’t bring up your pup. What’s her story (and favourite grub)?
She’s a 2 year old Cairn Terrier and Yorkie mix rescue from North Shore Animal League of America, and has the sweetest disposition. She gets fed a raw diet including lots of greens and fruit. Greens are full of clean protein for dogs (and humans), and it’s beneficial for them to avoid animal fat which causes heart disease and diabetes. There’s a method to turn dogs vegan, and I’m exploring ways to do just that.
[The Top 5] Chef Hugo Uys’ Top Vegan Restaurants in NY
Once known for its steakhouses and meat-heavy fare, the city has been turning a new leaf when it comes to vegan-focused restaurant concepts. Here are Chef Hugo’s top picks for vegans, vegetarians, and those of us who just want to eat cool, new food.
Best Dish: Cauliflower tempura with steamed buns & house pickles
#2: ABC Kitchen
Best Dish: Roast carrot and avocado salad, crunchy seeds and citrus (ask for it without the creme fraiche)
#3: Avant Garden
Best Dish: Paella with red pepper vegan cream sauce
Best Dish: Deli style Reuben
Best Dish: Curried stuffed sweet potato
[The Recipe] New York-Style Vegan Cheesecake
There are very few dishes more New York than cheesecake. Here’s my take on a vegan cheesecake that pulls out all the stops.
- ½ cup raw almonds
- ½ cup raw cashew nuts
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- 1 cup of diced dates
- ⅛ cup coconut oil
- ¾ cup macadamia nut milk
- 2 cups raw cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight
- ⅛ cup Monk Fruit sugar (to taste) or 1 Tbsp molasses
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ⅛ cup of powdered peanut butter
- 1 tsp powdered ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup of blueberries
- Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth
- Pat mixture into a pan approximately 5 inches x 9 inches and place in the freezer for 2 hours
- Drain the cashew nuts from the water solution
- Place in blender with all the other ingredients and blend until smooth
- Pour mixture over crust and place in freezer for 4 hours
- Place berries on top prior to serving
Get in Touch with Chef Hugo Uys
Naveen Duwadi is the non-obvious millennial foodie. He’s worked extensively in the digital space, and was part of the initial team at HelloGiggles, a digital brand founded by actress Zooey Deschanel. Since then, he’s worked across Time Inc.’s food and luxury publications including FOOD & WINE and Travel + Leisure, helping to market the brands to Fortune 500 companies. Naveen currently resides in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood, where he’s endlessly researching his next greatest meal.