Ask A Chef: Grace Crossman of Goldie’s in Asbury Park, N.J.

As gourmet vegan cuisine becomes more mainstream, restaurants specializing in artfully prepared, nutritious, and animal-free meals are popping up everywhere.

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interior shot of Goldie's (photo by Kaitlin Kall)

As gourmet vegan cuisine becomes more mainstream, restaurants specializing in artfully prepared, nutritious, and animal-free meals are popping up everywhere. Goldie’s in Asbury Park, N.J., is one such restaurant where the elegant ambience complements the beautifully presented food. Executive chef Grace Crossman has played an integral role in developing the mouthwatering menu that keeps Goldie’s packed with vegans and non-vegans alike.

What can you expect to find on the menu? Imagine starters such as butternut squash soup with chili oil and toasted walnuts, and salads of escarole and frisée with shaved kohlrabi, parsley, crostini, and a cashew dressing. Does a sandwich of smoked tempeh with plum, basil, and lemon-roasted garlic butter sound as scrumptious to you as it does to me? How about a dessert of roasted figs and vanilla bean panna cotta topped with pecan streudel?

In addition to their regular menu, Goldie’s will be filling special orders for Thanksgiving for those who want to leave the cooking to the pros. It’s sure to be a memorable feast! I chatted with Chef Grace to get a few of her tips for holiday entertaining.

Goldie's Executive Chef Grace Crossman (photo by Andrew Holtz)

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful opportunity to show family and friends how delicious plant-based meals can be! What is one meatless meal that your holday guests particularly enjoy?

Chanterelle mushrooms are wonderfully textured with a beautiful bright orange color. I toss them in olive oil and roast them with garlic, cooked farro, and herbed vegan butter. Preparing the mushrooms in this way leads them to cook slowly in their own natural juices, intensifying their flavor. For a simple meal, I might serve this with a little salad made of the whole leaves of fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, and chervil, with some shaved celery and radishes dressed in lemon juice and olive oil.

Do you have any tips to make Thanksgiving meal preparations easier and less stressful for those of us who aren’t as confident in the kitchen?

Never underestimate the beauty of simple food! A meal does not have to be complex and time-consuming to be satisfying and impressive. Sometimes it’s the complicated, overthought dishes that will work against you. Begin with good quality ingredients and focus on balance and simplicity. Get as much done ahead of time as you can, so when it’s time to serve your guests you just need to assemble the dish.

What is your favorite meal to prepare around the holidays? And what is your favorite to eat?

I love to make pies around the holidays. They are not exactly a meal, but leftover pie does make a great breakfast! Pie seems to me to really embody the holidays and the cold months in general. I make a freeform pear tart that is becoming pretty popular with my family.

I love to eat all of the classic vegetable sides: mashed potatoes, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, yams, all of the little things that are so typical of the holidays and of the season. My mother makes mashed potatoes with rutabaga, and it is one of my favorite things.