Nestled on the corner of St. Nicholas Ave and W.113th Street in Harlem, New York sits Seasoned Vegan, the full service Vegan Soul Food Restaurant which has become a staple in the community. Bleu talked with Brenda Beener, better known as Chef B, and her son Aaron Beener, about why they opened Seasoned Vegan.
“We did it for the community,” Chef B says, “to bring our people healthier options beyond the daily choices of fast food and chicken spots. We had friends and family that were suffering from diseases and we knew if they changed their diet they would have a better chance of healing themselves. As a family we decided to bring Season Vegan into the community.”
What started as a 21-day dairy fast with her husband ultimately turned into a complete lifestyle change for her family as they later adopted a complete vegan lifestyle.
Seasoned Vegans offers a robust menu that includes some favorite “soul food” dishes. Chef B likes to use that term loosely. Yes, they do make mouth-watering vegan soul food, which is the product. But it is also Ms. Beener’s purpose.
Since opening its door in 2014 its vegan cuisine captivates many, making it one of New York’s most sought after restaurants. Locals and tourist alike all flock to the West Harlem destination in search of fried chicken, ribs, crawfish, and macaroni and cheese but with a vegan twist. After taking just a bite of one of Chef B’s famous dishes, your tastebuds will burst in amazement, leaving one open-ended question, “How on earth does she do it?”
It is safe to say that Chef B is a modern day alchemist, fusing art and science while transforming traditional soul food dishes into delicious and healthier options.
A part of Seasoned Vegan’s appeal may be the handpicked staff who are warm and embracing of their customers. Whether you walk in for dinner on a weekday or weekend brunch, the receptive hosts and hostesses provide a deeply embedded sense of community belonging that makes one feel at home. Close to Central Park and one block from Lenox Ave, the venue is also public transportation friendly; within walking distance from C, 2, and 3 train. Seasoned Vegan has invested not only in the food to provide a healthier experience, but also its water too.
Customers are provided a tall bottle of specially filtered Kangen water that includes many healing properties. While there are several juice bars in Harlem promoting a environmentally conscious mantra for local consumers, Seasoned Vegan allows one to also dine in while enjoying its finger licking menu.
Transcending beyond its Harlem doorstep Seasoned Vegans name rings bells with many bigwigs. If you come in on the right night you might walk in on Styles P hosting, Cicely Tyson schooling Lenny Kravitz, or a lowkey jam session with India Arie and Stevie Wonder. And if you’re still relishing on the hype of Black Panther, then you might be able to experience a first class trip to Wakanda by walking through its doors, or at least snag a pic with its King Chadwick Boseman— just don’t disturb him while he’s refueling on the Smothered Chicken and Collard Greens.
In a perfect world, there would be a Seasoned Vegan in every city across America, however, until then, Chef B and Aaron will continue to offer us the next best thing. Super Vegan Market is an online shop that currently sells 100% vegan based products ranging from baby food, to household cleaning supplies. Though the expansion of an additional physical location is still under wraps, the duo are planning to purchase their first factory in The Bronx, New York and will soon begin to produce and distribute their beloved menu items to grocery stores bringing the soul of Seasoned Vegan directly to your kitchen.