Last Saturday, vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli opened her new vegan eatery at the St. Roch Market in Miami, Florida. She was quiet leading up to the launch; there were no preview posts on Instagram nor a website to browse the menu. Despite the lack of fanfare, Chef Chloe and The Vegan Cafe was packed opening weekend. We convinced Coscarelli to step away from her loyal customers during off-hours to get a taste of her new concept.
LK: You always seem to have a project going on; how long has Chef Chloe and the Vegan Cafe been in the works?
CC: A little while now. These are recipes I’ve been playing with and testing out. The venue’s definitely gone through a lot of different versions, but I finally settled on something a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. It’ small and focused, but I’m doing as much as I can to showcase the space.
LK: Following your departure from by CHLOE, did you know that you wanted to create another restaurant concept?
CC: Yes. I am definitely really committed to my profession as a chef and furthering the vegan movement and innovating vegan cuisine. That is something I will always be moving forward on. It so wonderful to feed people in person. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the people of Miami and cook for them and feed them and get to see their reactions. For me, that’s the most rewarding part.
LK: Why Miami?
CC: I really like Miami. I came for the first time last year for South Beach Food & Wine Festival. I had an incredible experience, and I did an all vegan dinner with Chef Matthew Kenney. I realized how focused [Miami’s] culinary preferences are toward things that are fresh and vegetable-inspired, and it seemed like a great place to start.
LK: What’s the vibe like in your new space?
CC: St. Roch Market is unlike any other culinary experience market that I’ve been to. There’s really a great deal of hospitality in how the guests are treated. Everything is served on real porcelain plates, and there are guest attendants that do water service and clear your table. It feels like myself and the other vendors are cooking in our own kitchens and serving people the way we would serve our friends and family.
LK: You’ve posted several photos of you with your team. You seem really close with all the people you work with. What’s that like?
CC: Its been so much fun because of my amazing team! A lot of them went to culinary school with me at the National Gourmet Institute. My team is a great group of women who I know and trust very well, and we’re all so dedicated to what we do. They understand my perfectionist attitude about every plate that goes out.
Also, my mom is helping me a lot in the kitchen. It feels like a family business environment. That’s something I’ve grown up around, and I love dining at establishments that are family-run. There’s just a lot of love put into the overall mission.
LK: Describe opening weekend.
CC: This weekend was crazy, but it was really fun! We weren’t sure what to expect, and it was great seeing so many people come to check it out. It was definitely challenging getting the food out, but like I said having a great team makes everything feel so much more relaxed.
LK: What’s on the menu? Any classic Chef Chloe dishes?
CC: The menu is my take on Miami. The food is inspired by the abundance of fresh produce in Miami and rainbow colors and a healthy, outdoor vibe. It’s all fresh and tropical.
Our most popular dish is our Butternut Nachos made with a butternut cashew queso and topped with a fresh mango salsa. One guest told me it looks like a party! We can’t make them fast enough.
All the recipes are new, but I do showcase one of my cupcakes from “Cupcake Wars” – the chocolate strawberry cupcake!
Image Credit: Chef Chloe