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Kitchen Confidential: Q & A with Richard Landau & Kate Jacoby

Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau

Vedge, a vegan restaurant located in a historic building in Philadelphia, is the most recent joint venture by the husband-and-wife duo of executive chef Richard Landau and pastry chef Kate Jacoby. At home, Richard mostly does the cooking, though he and Kate agree it's a team effort when company's coming. In time for Valentine's Day, we chatted with the couple about putting romance on the menu.

VT: What's your current ingredient obsession?

Richard & Kate: Piri-piri, a Portuguese hot sauce. We got hooked on a recent trip to Madeira and the Azores.

VT: How do you negotiate time and space in the kitchen?

R & K: We worked side by side on the line at Horizons (the couple's first Philly restaurant), so we have a great sense of each other's timing. And after working together for more than a decade, we're really good at divvying things up and trusting each other.

VT: Are your cooking styles compatible? How do you approach any differences?

R & K: We both like an immaculate cooking area, so we're great about cleaning up messes as they happen in order to keep things neat and orderly. Clutter sucks. And any differences we have are just fine with us; they probably help make us a better, more balanced couple.

VTWhat's the sound track for your kitchen?

R & K: We like to cook to James Bond movie theme songs—that's our favorite! But we also choose music based on the meal: the sound track from (the film) Tortilla Soup is great for a Mexican menu; for casual summertime stuff, it's got to be rock and country. For romantic dinners, it's Billie Holiday.

VT: What makes a meal romantic?

R & K: First, set the stage: candles, nice glassware, and flowers can go a long way. Dress up once you've done the bulk of the cooking. Then let the food take over. Plan a sumptuous and decadent menu, including a dessert you can share. You want to stimulate the senses and make the night feel special. Just don't overdo it to the point where you have no appetite left for the real dessert!

Comments on this Article

Question: When a recipe recommends mustard greens, what is that? it also says cilantro. What can I replace it with when I live in Europe (Denmark)? Can we have a recipe for a vegan Indian vegetable curry, please?

Another question: Don't Americans use chillies in your cooking? Plus pesto? Pommes dauphinois? Anna (Europe)

I am trying to make cream cheese stuffed jalapenos, but on my first try they were very bland except the spice of the jalapeno. Could you please tell me what to add to the vegan cream cheese to make this a more delightful snack? Thanks!

Hi! I'd like to make a huckleberry slump like I had in a good restaurant in Spokane for Christmas. My berries are frozen. I sometimes find when I thaw frozen ones before using in baking, that they get dessicated. What is the best way to substitute frozen berries for fresh? Thanks!

Hi! I see the questions like the one I posted a month ago, but I don't see the answers??? Thanks!

Many years ago Vegetarian Times had a salad recipe with watercress and tomatoes and a wonderful tahini/Ume vinegar dressing. I would love to have the recipe again or something very similar if you can help. Thank you.

Hi, Is there such a thing as vegan puff pastry? If so, any suggestions on brands you like? Thanks!

Hi, what is chipotle in adobo? i have a recipe (Black Bean-ans-Quinoa Salad) that calls for chipotle in adobo, minced. if i can substitute - what is close but not smoky flavor? please and thank you.

I notice so many vegan and vegetarian recipes using raw cashews -- specifically RAW. Cashews are related to poison ivy, and I know from painful experience that for many people, eating raw cashews causes a severe external AND internal rash much like poison ivy. But I can eat them roasted. What is the reason for specifically using raw cashews instead of roasted? Thanks.

Congrats for your win on "Chopped". KJ saved your a-- with that turnover presentation. You know she should get a piece of that $10G's. We live in Massapequa, NY since 1983 and for several years since that date we had the pleasure to enjoy vegetarian prepared food from a wonderful quaint restaurant called, Santosha. This Amityville place is long gone and unfortunately was probably around before it's time. Today, good, creative vegan and vegetarian cuisine would be supported by a greater populace. How we miss that place. Have you both ever thought of a vegan-vegetarian franchise operation. The closest we get to it in our area are Indian foods. It's good but we need a more cosmopolitan variety of dishes. Maybe you could introduce some of your dishes in Wendy's locations and help them out in redefining them. Lots of Good Luck and Health in your endeavors.

Pumpkin pie question. Why does a pumpkin pie have to be cooked for one hour? I've seen recipes using tofu and canned/cooked pumpkin mixed together, so I don't see why anything needs to happen beyond re-heating. It seems like a huge waste of electricity to have it in there for a whole hour, especially when I don't usually use the oven for anything else. I wonder if anyone else has had the same question in their heads.

i would like a recipe for tamari salad dressing and also tamari sauce

I love yogurt, but the non dairy almond yogurt is very expensive.Do you have a recipe for making almond yogurt? Thank you!!!