Once called a “vegetable shaman” by former New York Times dining critic Sam Sifton, Christopher Cipollone (executive chef and partner at NYC’s Michelin-starred Piora) is no stranger to plant-based cuisine.
And when the culinarian noticed an increase in veg requests at his award-winning eatery — he got even more serious about the herbivorous game. The restaurant now offers a vegan entree option, in addition to a lengthy list of vegetarian selections, all part of a new prix fixe menu.
“As the world is depleting resources to produce meat, it’s natural to see chefs steer towards plants,” Cipollone says of the culinary world’s overall transition towards more vegetable-strong foods.
So when did Piora start seeing more requests for vegetarian and vegan fare?
“Pretty much after the first year of Piora [the restaurant opened 2013], after all the reviews and such,” Cipollone says. “I became known for vegetable cookery and as word got out, more vegetarian customers came in.”
Piora’s menu offers a veggie-focused Garden section which includes a platter of seasonal pickled, poached, roasted, dried and raw vegetables; a parsnip agnolotti; and a charcoal-roasted romanesco cauliflower, served over a pear-black garlic-winter citrus puree with poached butternut squash dressed in vegan “fish” sauce (made with fermented kombu and mushroom), pickled fresno chilies, candied peanuts and lavender mint.
“I looked at those flavors because they were bold. Blending the idea with some Korean ingredients [such as gochugaru pepper powder] and using local New York state grown vegetables as the platform worked out well.”
Cipollone says he’s a fan of veg cooking because it offers “endless possibilities.”
“I can go buy a great chicken and cook it perfectly and that’s it, but if I satisfy you with a carrot, it’s way more rewarding.”
Piora is located at 430 Hudson St., NYC. The new prix fixe is available in two ($62) and three courses ($85). Visit PioraNYC.com.