It’s the kind of Valentine we can all get down with: Adam Sobel, owner of New Jersey’s only (as far as we can tell!) vegan catering service will debut The Cinnamon Snail, a vegan, organic food truck, on Valentine’s Day in Hoboken, with service to Brooklyn in the works. I caught up with Adam to learn more about this anticipated automobile. Here’s what he had to say.
Abigail S. Bean: What gave you the idea for The Cinnamon Snail?
Adam Sobel: The Cinnamon Snail has been my dream for years, and I am not sure anymore what sparked the concept. I used to be a little punk graffiti artist when I was a kid. I always liked the idea of forcing creativity and beauty back into the community, to the street, where everyone comes in contact with it.
Since I started preparing vegan food professionally, there have been few things that tickle me as much as hearing how something vegan and yummy helped someone change their life in a significant way. To see people take hold of their lives, to refuse the default violence of our civilization, to start living in harmony with nature — if my food helps people in any way with that transformation, I am delighted!
AB: When did you decide to devote yourself to nourishing people through organic, vegan (and sometimes raw) food?
AS: I was about 16, wandering around a National Rainbow Gathering. At these gatherings, people set up free kitchens to feed people. … I was blown away by the idea of food as a gift, the way people took pleasure in serving and nourishing one another, seeking nothing in return. I was inspired to learn how to cook so I could bring pleasure and strength to everyone in this world.
AB: Are you formally trained?
AS: I always preferred to learn by direct experience. I was fortunate to start out getting a job in one of Tom Valenti’s restaurants. He was also self-taught, and was a big inspiration to me. His whole staff was formally trained, and I learned bits and pieces from all of them. I went on to work in a handful of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, picking up people’s tricks along the way.
AB: Can we get a little menu preview?
AS: The menu is going to be seasonal, and expect it to evolve at our whim! Here are a couple of offerings to chew on:
- Smokey portabello carpaccio on semolina fennel bread with kalamata olive tapenade, arugula and capers
- Hempseed crusted tofu with spicy French mustard dressing over white truffle mashed potatoes, greens, and rosemary bread pudding
- Creole grilled tofu sub on toasted baguette with caramelized onions, arugula, and grilled tomato
AB: Where else can people find your goodies?
AS: We’ve done a really nice table for the Red Bank farmers market for the past two years. We bring a huge display of vegan doughnuts, cases of treats and sweets (cooked and raw), raw pizzas, nut milks, breakfast burritos, and more.
As soon as the farmers market was over this past summer, instead of taking the next weekend off, we were up early in the morning, testing new apple fritter and doughnnut recipes. We bring the doughnuts to Kaya’s Kitchen, a vegetarian restaurant in Belmar, NJ, for them to serve at brunch during the summer. Year-round we deliver cakes and raw desserts almost every week to Kaya’s and to The Eurasian Eatery in Red Bank, NJ.
The Cinnamon Snail opens its windows on Sunday, February 14 at 9 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. Vegan doughnuts all day, and they’re promising free (!) vegan doughnuts to the first 100 customers. Location is still tk; we’ll update this post when we find out. Future hours will be weekdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can follow The Cinnamon Snail on Twitter and Facebook.