Dos Caminos Executive Chef Ivy Stark says meat-eaters want to find great veggie dishes
BR Guest Hospitality, through its Dos Caminos restaurants, is promoting the international Meatless Monday movement to inspire people to eat vegetarian one day a week in order to improve their health, as well as the environment.
Dos Caminos in all five NYC restaurants, including the new Times Square addition, and the restaurant in Atlantic City — offer a special meat-free menu on Mondays. Dos Caminos Executive Chef Ivy Stark, an expert on authentic Mexican cuisine, has authored two books about it. When asked what prompted her interest in Meatless Monday, she replied, “I’ve always been very interested in vegetables, for my own diet … and that’s what people want to eat right now. Meat-eaters like myself want to find great vegetarian dishes.”
Chef Ivy also said that cooking vegetables helps make her more creative as a chef. “Working with vegetables is challenging because there’s such a tremendous variety of them. Where do I start? You have pork, you have chicken, you have different cuts of meat, but you don’t have the variety you have with vegetables and the opportunity to be as creative.”
Chef Stark’s love for Mexican food came from traveling there every year on family vacations. “Now I go, specifically to study, at least once a year, generally to a different region. Last year I went to the Yucatan which was eye-opening because it’s completely different from the rest of Mexico…different dishes and different cooking methods. I’m going again in a few weeks so I’m really excited about that.”
In addition to her passion for authentic Mexican cuisine, Chef Stark is also dedicated to sourcing food that’s local and organic. “We’re lucky to be surrounded by great farms in Long Island, New Jersey and upstate New York, and we get the majority of our produce from those farms,” said Chef Ivy. “The farm truck from Baldor brings the farmer’s market to us.”
The decisions about which dishes to change out seasonally often revolve around the produce and what she can source locally. “By buying locally and organically we help the planet. I won’t buy squash blossoms from Europe because I can get great squash blossoms here in NY. And if they’re not available in NY, I’m not going to get them.”
The special menu at Dos Caminos is composed of daily specials along with regular menu items. “I’m encouraging the chefs on Monday to run vegetarian specials and they’re excited about that because they love vegetables.”
For Meatless Monday menu ideas, see video
Cooking Meatless with Top Chefs: Ivy Stark of Dos Caminos
Meatless Monday is a nonprofit public health initiative of The Monday Campaigns. Sid Lerner, the organization’s chairman, founded the Meatless Monday movement in 2003, with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The campaign seeks to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer and conserve valuable environmental resources by encouraging the public to cut back on meat consumption one day a week. The campaign is founded on research that demonstrates that Monday is the day we are most primed to start and sustain a healthy new behavior. Since its launch 12 years ago, Meatless Monday has become an international movement with support from schools, celebrities, restaurants, and organizations around the world.
For free creative resources including toolkits, promotional ideas, graphics and posters, visit www.meatlessmonday.com.