I have had the privilege of being friends with one of the most talented and creative chefs in the industry. Chef Matteo and I grew up in San Jose, Ca and became friends in high school. We both went to school (I suspect he went to class more than I did but I digress) in Humboldt in 1994-1995. At that time of my life I was working as a baker. We even started a brief whole grain bagel business that unfortunately never really got off the ground.

BENJAMIN Working at Ramone's Bakery in Wildberries Marketplace  Arcata, Ca 

Fast forward a decade or two and Matteo is an incredibly accomplished Vegan chef running 4 course Vegan from his loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the last  8 years. His menu's are ambitious, creative, colorful, and screaming with flavor.

Here are some examples of some of his original dishes:
Watermelon radish ravioli with thyme-scented cashew cheeze and aged-balsamic

Spicy Avocado Timbale with Radish Slaw and Cilantro Jalapeno Puree

Raw Kinpira Salad with Ginger and Shiso

and it just goes on and on like this....these flavor rich, ethnically-diverse dishes are what Matteo does.

Here's a taste...

So as you can imagine I was excited to hear that he was stuck in northern Calfornia at Thanskgiving with no plans.

Being the gracious friend that I am I jumped at the opportunity to have him cook for, contribute some dishes to our already exciting and healthful feast that we had planned! :)

he knew about my personal journey to health and was ready for the challenge. The challenge for a gourmet chef to cook without fat.

Let's let Matteo explain it in his own words.

Everyone has heard that fats add flavor to food adding richness and unctuousness.  I don’t even think twice about and certainly love pouring extra virgin olive oil over my food to add a punch of extra flavor.   My pie crusts are flaky with the buttery richness of coconut oil and I consume avocados like they are going out of style.  But what if I can’t use these ingredients in my daily cooking?  Where will the flavor come from?  Well that scenario played out just this past Thanksgiving.  And it was a challenge that tested my imagination and made me rethink my approach to cooking.

Me and my girlfriend, Carly, were invited to Benjaimin’s for Thanksgiving this year.  (We should have been in Hawaii celebrating with my family, but that is a whole other story…).  Benjamin has recently adopted a plant-based diet and is eschewing fats in all forms including nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, etc…..So our challenge was to add to the menu and prepare a couple dishes for the Thanksgiving feast.

As a chef, I love my decadent ingredients like coconut, cold-pressed olive oil, cocoa butter and hazelnuts.  The trick here is that we need to add flavor to our dishes without any added fat, none at all. So we needed to use techniques and tweak them to suit a new way of cooking.  As you may know, roasting vegetables and garlic add hearty and earthy sweetness to many savory dishes.  While citrus and vinegars can brighten salads and soups.  And fresh herbs always add something memorable.  Wrapping whole peeled garlic in foil or parchment roasts them golden brown without any oil. These are some techniques we used in preparing our dishes.  Two of them are below for you to try.  Enjoy….
                                                                                              -Chef Matteo


Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced thin in food processor or mandoline
¼ cup vegetable stock
¼ tsp sea salt

>over medium-heat ,in large non-stick sauté pan, wilt Brussels sprouts with vegetable stock and sea salt.  Cook down, stirring occasionally until sprouts are tender and bright green, about 10-12 minutes.  Place in a  medium bowl and set aside to cool.

1 red onion, sliced thin
pinch of sea salt
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

>in medium non-stick sauté pan, cook onions over medium heat.  Add pinch of sea salt and cook until onions are cooked down and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with cider vinegar, cooking until the vinegar has evaporated.  Add the cooked onions to the Brussels sprouts

¼ lb dried figs, sliced into thin rounds
2 tbsp dried currants
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin on bias, white and light green parts only
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp minced thyme
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp red chile flakes
juice and zest of 1 lemon

>add figs, currants, scallions, parsley, thyme, sea salt, pepper, red chile, lemon zest and juice to the Brussels sprouts.  Toss together to combine.  Adjust seasoning  as necessary.  This salad may be served warm or at room temperature.


Rye Stuffing with Chanterelles, Oyster Mushrooms, and Dried Bing Cherries

1 loaf Acme NY Rye, cut into large cubes about 1½”-square

>heat oven to 175˚F.  spread cubed rye bread on cookie sheet and bake for one hour, turning once or twice, to evenly dry the bread.  You can do this one or two days in advance and just leave out uncovered on a table or counter top.

½ lb chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned well, and chopped
½ lb oyster mushrooms, diced
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

>over medium-high flame, heat large non-stick sauté pan for 1 minute.  Add chopped chanterelles and sea salt.  Cook chanterelles 5-7  minutes, until the water released by chanterelles has almost dissipated.  Add oyster mushrooms and black pepper to the chanterelles and continue cooking until the oyster mushrooms have released all their liquid.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until fragrant and slightly browned.  Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside.

1 large onion, medium dice
2 stalks celery, medium dice
1 large carrot, medium dice
1 sprig of sage
1 3” piece of rosemary
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup vegetable stock
1 bulb of roasted garlic, peeled
1/3 cup dried bing cherries              
Optional: 6 oz chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and chopped

>place onion, celery, carrot, sage, rosemary, sea salt, pepper, and vegetable stock in 3-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Partially cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 5-7 minutes.   Add roasted garlic, dried cherries and chestnuts (if using).  Cook 1 minute longer to allow cherries to rehydrate.  Add cooked mushrooms.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp minced thyme
2-3 cups vegetable stock

>preheat oven to 350˚F. line a 9”x13” baking dish with parchment paper. Place dried rye bread on the bottom of the dish.  Pour the mushroom-vegetable mixture over the bread. sprinkle with parsley and thyme.  Gently mix these ingredients together, so everything is evenly dispersed.   Slowly drizzle 2 cups vegetable broth over the stuffing and cover with aluminum foil.   Bake 25 minutes and check the moisture of the stuffing.  If necessary , pour1 more cup vegetable stock over stuffing and bake an additional 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake stuffing uncovered 10 more minutes.  The top of the stuffing should be crusty and the layers underneath moist.  To reheat just sprinkle a little more water or stock over the top of stuffing and bake 10-15 minutes until heated through.

*This recipe has no added fats with out the chestnuts.


Chef Matteo Silverman, 34, originally from San Jose/San Francisco, has  lived in New York City for 10 years.  A long time-vegetarian and vegan for over 15 years, Matteo strives to elevate plant-based cuisine to the respect it deserves. He seeks fresh, seasonal ingredients that are  sourced locally and organically or bio-dynamically grown. Wetting his feet in the San Francisco restaurant scene, he worked at the infamous  Green’s, Millennium, and Paul K. before moving to NYC in March 2001. He graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary  Arts that July. Upon graduation he worked at various bakeries and  restaurants honing his skills and learning the trade.  Along the way he has worked privately for families and high-profile clients in entertainment and finance, most notably Montel Williams. In January 2003, Matteo launched 4 Course Vegan, a weekly supper club in Williamsburg, born out of pure passion for food, people, and wine.  January 2011 marked the 8th anniversary of 4 Course Vegan.


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