Bold Tastes at Seasoned Vegan: A Talk and Taste Test with Chef B

New York is a global hub of cuisines from Latin, Jamaican, to even astrologically-inspired. My most recent food adventure has been testing out the plant-based side of life: Seasoned Vegan located at 128 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003.

Introducing the mom and son duo: Chef Brenda and Aaron Beener. They came together to create culinary magic with their vegan soul food restaurant: Seasoned Vegan. The original location was in Harlem to cater to the Black population of the neighborhood. (I learned after chatting with Chef B, that she and my grandmother actually lived in the same building uptown!)

I had the privilege of stopping by for their vegan Mac and “Cheese”, BBQ Craw Sandwich (made from grilled burdock root in their house made BBQ sauce and pretzel bread) and washed it all down with a fizzy Maine Root Organic Soda. The meal gave me Southern vibes from my grandma’s kitchen without heavy dairy or meat to weigh me down. 

While enjoying my meal, Chef B popped out for an interview with me. I took detailed notes as she casually snacked on a spicy peach sauce she was testing out. Food has always been in Chef B’s bloodline. Her father was a chef in New Orleans and her mother the cook for the family.  Chef B started baking at age 8, creating delicious goods that garnered friends and family telling her: you should open a restaurant one day. Chef B went on baking, cooking, and learning recipes from her kinfolk.

Chef B became vegan 25 years ago when her husband gave up animal products. This spiraled a change for the whole family to go vegan. This change inspired Chef B to take recipes she loved and just make them vegan. Chef B made her vegan food seasoned, which led to the naming of the restaurant, Seasoned Vegan, which opened up in 2014.  Their first location was in Harlem which is now shut down last year.

They reopened in 2023 at their St. Mark’s Place location to serve the wider area of NYC with delicious bites and vegan morsels to go.

Throughout Chef B’s experiences as a chef, she told stories of tribulation and triumph. She lost friends because she was vegan, people not inviting her to events or making fun of her and her family’s vegan lifestyle. Another story Chef B detailed was her entering a cooking contest.This was her first time bringing her dishes to the public. The judge of the contest enjoyed the “chicken wings” dish so much and was shocked when Chef B told the judge it was plant based. Chef B won the contest and saw this moment as a sign to keep going in her culinary journey. One of the cutest stories was of children who came to Seasoned Vegan, who’s parents struggled to give them animal products. Chef B would feed the kids vegan sandwiches or spoonfuls of mac and cheese and to everyone’s surprise: the kids would eat it up. This story, and others like this, while chatting with Chef B opened my eyes to the collective power of good vegan food. 

While interviewing Chef B, a man came over to introduce himself as one of Aaron’s friends from years ago and to congratulate her on the business. The close-knit energy of Seasoned Vegan keeps customers coming back and inspires many folks to go vegan. Check out Seasoned Vegan this Black History Month and beyond for food that feeds your consciousness, belly, and soul. 

Stop by for scrumptious bites from Seasoned Vegan at 128 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003.