WOODSTOCK, N.Y. >> Garden Cafe on the Green in Woodstock is committed to serving primarily locally-sourced and always vegan and organic food.
But you won’t see a lot of faux bacon or meat substitutes on the cafe’s menu, chef Christine Moss said recently.
“People come to us because we have good food,” Moss said. “The vegans will find us, but my intention is to actually create good food.”
According to the cafe website, “All of the ingredients we use are organic and GMO-free. We strive to use and support local producers when possible, and our food is prepared with the highest quality oils. We make careful choices about the food we serve and use ingredients that are cruelty free. We do not use animal products or any other products that cause pain and suffering.”
According to vegankit.com/eat, “A vegan diet is one that consists of only plant-derived foods. Vegans don’t use or consume any animals or animal products including flesh (land or sea animals), milk, eggs, or honey.”
Despite the restaurant’s commitment to vegetarian and vegan cuisine, about 80 percent of the restaurant’s clientele is actually not vegan, Moss said, explaining that sometimes first-time visitors are put off when they first hear the restaurant serves only vegan food.
“It gets that kind of an, ‘Oh, I don’t want that, it’s going to be tofu,’ reaction,” she said. But, although tofu is on the menu, Moss said she doesn’t rely on it. “And I don’t rely on the mock food. We do have [faux] meatballs on the menu and tempeh bacon … but I want to showcase and highlight fruit and grains.”
Moss, 46, of Woodstock, a mosaic artist and an anthropologist by training, learned to cook in the field, she said.
She started at Garden Cafe in 2008 when it was owned by its founder Pam Brown, and she was promoted to head chef in 2015.
Moss said she’s “always loved food enormously.”
Before coming to Woodstock, Moss said she worked as a line cook, a sous-chef, and in catering. “I always loved kitchens and chefs and food,” she said.
And, when she moved to Woodstock with her two children, Moss said the first job she applied for was at the Garden Cafe. “Pam Brown gave me a chance,” shed said.
Moss said she and Brown are committed to vegan food for many reasons. “One is to carry on Pam’s legacy for starting a vegan restaurant,” she said. “It is vegan because I love animals and the earth and the planet.”
Vegan cooking, Moss added, “is a very conscious, clean and delicious way to eat. … People don’t realize how good and satisfying it can be if you eat this way.”
“We use no preservatives, chemicals, trans fats or genetically engineered products,” the website states.
In addition to vegan cooking, the restaurant features baked goods, cakes and deserts which, with the exception of a baguette from Bread Alone, are made on the premises and include many gluten-free selections.
For diners with food allergies and food sensitivities, the cafe offers gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free selections, Moss said. Vegan food, by definition, is dairy-free.
The cafe offers fresh, organic juices and recently opened a juice bar.
Diners are encouraged to let their servers know if they have any food allergies or restrictions.
The current owner, Lea Fridrich and her partner Julie Price, bought the restaurant in May 2015 and expanded it in November of that year, adding a juice bar and a wine bar, she said in an email.
The cafe’s interior, which Fridrich said she considers “a big part of the experience,” was designed by Myoshin Thurman.
The Garden Cafe, at 6 Old Forge Road on the Village Greene in Woodstock, can be reached by phone at (845) 679-3600.
The cafe is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The cafe is closed on Tuesdays.
The cafe’s newsletter, called Planting Seeds, was launched in March and will offer monthly recipes, Fridrich said. For a subscription, visit bit.ly/gardencafenews.
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