When I think of the Candles, I feel love.
The entire Candle trio of restaurants, Candle Cafe, Candle 79, and Candle Cafe West, are the happiest, warmest, and most delicious places to be. They are all a reflection of the core—the Candle magic love potion—and I dare you not to get swept away by it.
All of the employees of each restaurant—from managers to busboys—are so welcoming and caring. And can we talk about Chefs Angel and Jorge? They are so talented, hardworking, warm, and super-cute, by the way. And whether they like it or not, I always go into the kitchen to give them big hugs and compliments after every spectacular meal that I’ve eaten there.
These transporting restaurants and their amazing food are the result of the vision of Joy and her husband and partner, Bart, both of whom I’ve known and loved for over thirteen years. Joy and I are crazy in love with food. We appreciate the fine, exquisite flavors of plant-based food and we love dishes that are made with passion, love, and care.
Joy and the Candle family know how to throw a great party. We have celebrated big and small dinners together and they have all been crazy yummy. For my thirtieth birthday party—hmm, a while back now—Joy and Bart sent Seitan Piccata to my home in California for forty guests. If you haven’t tried it, you haven’t lived. It is the best dish for a nonvegan eater to try. They catered backstage parties when I appeared on Broadway, sending trays of yummy plant-based goodies to the cast and crew and making us very happy. When I launched my line of eco-tool bags, they hosted business parties at their restaurants, serving food that had a mission that was in sync with mine and that deeply impressed a number of fashion editors.
And a Candle Thanksgiving is a treat!
It’s truly magical and special, full of fabulous tastes with no bad karma flying around the belly after dinner.
I am so thrilled that Joy, Angel, and Jorge decided to write a book devoted to cooking vegan for the holidays. In addition to the great menus and recipes, the photography and layout of this book are beautiful, and I want to make almost everything I see on these pages RIGHT NOW! Bravo!
This book is about celebration and fun—no deprivation, just pure joy and yumminess. It inspires me to plan a year of parties, and I am so eager to cook Joy’s Grandma’s seitan brisket and sweet potato latkes for Passover, and mini muffins and French toast coffeecake for my friends and all their kiddies for a spring brunch. There’s the Cinco de Mayo fiesta (Bear’s birthday) with crispy black bean tacos and caramel flan (I’ve had this at Candle 79 and it is insane!), and a cruelty-free backyard barbecue with grilled seitan burgers and spicy corn on the cob finished off with red, white, & blue shortcake.
Maybe I’ll have a holiday mash-up, serving the best of Thanksgiving and Christmas with a roasted brussels sprout salad, the polenta, mushroom, and kale casserole, Christmas spritz cookies, and a vegan cheese plate! OMG! And for Valentine’s maybe I’ll make a romantic dinner with roasted red pepper soup and dumplings, morel crusted tofu, and decadent molten chocolate cake. Seriously, I want to eat all of these things—right now.
I love Candle’s commitment and passion for sustainability, for healing the planet with food and love. Thank God for the Candles and for Joy and Bart and Angel and Jorge.
And for this book. We are all so lucky to have this book. Let’s get cookin’.
Excerpted from Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. Copyright © 2014 by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.