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Cooking with Joy and Eating with Purpose at Candle 79

Cooking with Joy and Eating with Purpose at Candle 79

There’s an art to a satisfying meal. Yes, it begins with food. But merely begins. Candle 79 knows this. Not just any food, but the satisfying meal requires an array of whole foods – whole plants and whole grains — in a variety sizes, colors and textures, that tumble down the kitchen’s countertop. They are sliced and diced, stewed and sautéed, spiced and served.

Then there’s the table. It must be crowded with chairs, elbows, smiles and libations. Hands cross hands and forks and knives to dive into each other’s entrees, which are as sumptuous as the restaurant’s Asiatic décor and ambience.

House made gnocchi...Wild mushroom crepes with garlic truffle aioli...Moroccan spiced chickpea cakes drizzled in red pepper-coconut curry sauce...Peach galette...Rich Mexican chocolate-ancho cake with candied pecan ice cream...Chocolate-peanut butter bliss with berry coulis. 


The menu alone causes me to salivate. Click here to experience for yourself. (And here specifically for desserts!)

Bon appetite!”

Laughter chimes in with the chinks of glasses that spill with fresh juices, teas, and jalapeno-spiced margaritas. Joy winks as Erin’s fingers are caught scooping hummus from the mezze plate.

Satisfaction is not merely the result of satiety. Satisfaction is defined as fulfillment, assurance, and contentment. It is the result of collaborative synergies and passions. And at Candle 79, while dining in the special company of my soul sister Erin Schrode, as well as my new friends and co-restaurant owners Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza, and their lovely niece Laura Felenstein, we enjoyed a vegan feast prepared with the same energy that then fueled our passionate conversations across the table.

For Bart and Joy, deeper satisfaction derives from the plate’s obligation to purpose. Candle 79, the upscale sister restaurant of Bart and Joy’s famous Candle Café, emanates the luxury of plant-based eating. More so, all of Bart and Joy’s establishments emphasize the criticality of the plant-based diet as one that nourishes the mind, body, and our planet. Bart and Joy are joined in their mission by Angel Ramos, executive chef, Benay Vynerib, general manager, Elena Jones, service manager, Jorge Pineda, chef, and Margaret Tudor, service manager. All ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals known to have debilitating consequences to one’s health and environment. In addition, the restaurants source from local, small organic farms whenever possible.


The Candle 79 townhouse facade, with photograph courtesy of Candle 79

The Candle Café is also the first Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association in New York City, and both restaurants are perennially ranked among the “Greenest” businesses in the country. This is due to their steadfast dedication to investing in people, places and things that share their values – such as eco-friendly paints, fabrics, all cleaners, and the education of all restaurant staff. They even offer additional investments into wind power to offset the environmental impacts of running the restaurants. They gladly share best practices with other restaurants and businesses to help others implement “green” strategies. Each and every day, Bart and Joy and their entire team, are satisfied in knowing they are on their own unique mission towards reducing our global carbon footprint. With food, we each have the opportunity to act on climate change three times, or rather, three meals, a day.


With that in mind, let’s think scale. Thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio’s eye-opening documentary CowspiracyI’ve got some numbers for you.

  • Greenhouse gases – Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Water – Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption, and 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.
  • Land – Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • Waste – In the U.S. livestock produce 116,000 pounds of waste per second.
  • Oceans – ¾ of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
  • Rainforest-Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. Click here to read an older Sustainable Directions post that focuses on this impact.

Food is essential to all of us.  But to each of us, our diets are incredibly varied based on preference, culture, and affordability. We’re so engrained to our preferred routine that we often don’t realize — just like our countries’ transitions from coal, oil, and dirty fossil fuels — our own bodies deserve clean, renewable energy too. 

At Candle 79, the evening began to settle in. Other commitments and other realities began to take form. We were full and giddy. But our time together was not yet complete.

“Hey, Joy! Try this?” Erin called. She took a hearty spoonful of her gluten-free peanut butter and dark chocolate ganache “Bliss” and dipped it within the coconut froth of her iced latte.

“Gosh, you’re one of a kind,” Joy exclaimed, and dove her spoon into bliss as well.

It’s all connected. The art of the satisfying and sustainable meal will never be separate from the company of good friends and flair. When we share a meal at the dinner table – a meal that also shares our values – we continue forward in our cultivation of a collective narrative that defines how we satisfy ourselves while sustaining our planet.

Check out all of Bart and Joy's lovely creations:

  • Candle 79
    • Upper East Side - 154 East 79th Street at Lexington Avenue | New York, NY 10021
    • Online Reservations Available
  • Candle Cafe
    • Upper West Side - 2427 Broadway (between 89th and 90th Streets) | New York, NY 10024
    • Online Reservations, Takeout and Delivery
  • Candle Cafe
    • Upper East Side - 1307 3rd Avenue Between 74th & 75th St. | New York, NY 10021
    • Online Reservations, Takeout and Delivery
  • Cook Books!
    • Vegan Holiday Cooking From Candle Cafe
    • Candle 79 Cookbook
    • Candle Cafe Cookbook
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