Martha Stewart would be a lot cooler if she looked less like my mom and more like Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The 41-year-old Omaha, Neb., resident has visible tattoos, sports a black bob and wears Joy Division t-shirts. And those aren't even the coolest things about her.
The coolest things about Moskowitz are her eight vegan cookbooks and her recipe-laden website, Post-Punk Kitchen. The third (the second is the Joy Division shirts) coolest thing is that she'll be serving a four-course, Irish-inspired menu Monday at Golden Road Brewing. As if that wasn't enough, each course will be paired with a Golden Road beer selected by Moskowitz and Golden Road brewmaster Jesse Houck.
The event is part of Mohawk Bend's monthly “Authors Worth Celebrating,” which brings in chefs/authors who use their books as inspiration for the menus. These gatherings also feature a formal Q&A led by a moderator and the chance to mingle with the chefs. Normally, “Authors Worth Celebrating” takes place at Mohawk Bend, but organizers have opted for a larger room for Monday because Moskowitz's appearances March 10 and 11 sold out quickly.
In case you were wondering, being a famous vegan chef is one more reason Moskowitz is cooler than James Dean eating a cucumber.
Squid Ink: Tell me about Monday's gathering. What's on the menu?
Isa Chandra Moskowitz: It's pub food. We're beer battering kale. If you're on a juice cleanse we will be happy to juice the beer battered kale for you. There's also a pot pie with potato biscuit and a salad with some deviled potatoes and homemade sausages. And, of course, a chocolate stout dessert because – duh – stout. Basically, celebrating the meat and potatoes spirit, but keeping it bad-ass with plants.
SI: The event is called Luck o' the Vegan Supper and Beer Pairing. Tell me something lucky that has happened to you (other than being able to talk to me, of course) since you've been vegan.
ICM: I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I'm basically a professional 'zine writer living the punk rock dream. Also, once I got to make vegan spring rolls and brisket as a prop for a Joaquin Phoenix movie because he's vegan.
SI: Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't EVERYTHING go with beer?
ICM: I can't think of a goddamn thing that doesn't. Pizza? Yes. Ice cream? Check. Quinoa? You bet. Beer is always there to balance, enhance and complement everything. Thank you, beer!
SI: Compared to other holidays, how does Irish cuisine and/or St. Patrick's Day translate to veganism?
ICM: Home cooking is my thing, so I feel like it's the perfect holiday for homey comfort foods because there really isn't like Irish haute cuisine. Rich gravies are easy to create with vegetable ingredients like mushrooms and herbs. I love making sausages from scratch using beans and some other ingredients. And I've heard that someone has even invented a vegan potato if you can believe it.
SI: How did you hook up with Mohawk Bend?
ICM: Through a mutual friend. And sparks immediately flew.
SI: Do you still live in Nebraska? If so, why? I ask because once I drove home from New York City in a 15-passenger van by myself. By the time I hit Nebraska, I started talking to myself and seeing things on the side of the road that probably weren't there. I hope your Nebraska experience has not been like this.
ICM: I live there because people ask “why.” How boring would life be if no one ever had to ask “Why?” If I said I lived in Portland, it would raise no eyebrows and life would be pointless. Omaha is a cool, down- to-Earth place and the weather is perfect for growing tomatoes – when there isn't a polar vortex. I'm opening a vegan restaurant in the heart of cattle country. Why bother doing what everyone else is doing? That is the real question.
SI: My mom bought me “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.” Then she decided to use one of your recipes to bake me something for my birthday. That was about six years ago and she still hasn't given me the book. What gives?
ICM: I hate to break it to you, but your mom has a vegan cupcake stand at the farmer's market. She also has “Dick Wolf” knuckle tats.
SI: You're vegan, you dress in black, you have cat pictures on your Facebook page and you wear Misfits and Joy Division shirts. Pardon me, but can I marry you?
ICM: Yes, and this question was legally binding. You are now Mr. Isa Moskowitz.