Coming up on her first year in Brooklyn, Chef Mérida has already built a pretty great following for her Vancouver-born vegan supper club. I stopped by her loft on one of the hottest days of the year where she was busily prepping a feast of summer produce. We talked about the ins and outs of hosting a supper club and building things as well as what to do if you break both your arms. Her feral cats all went into hiding as Summer Shapiro snapped the photos.
How long have you been hosting the Vegan Secret Supper?
Chef Mérida: The supper has been here since November, but I hosted it in Vancouver before that for about three years.
Is that where you're from?
Yeah, I moved last January. I moved down here to cook.
So is the supper club your main thing now?
Yeah... ish. It was in Vancouver and it's still starting out here. We do them about twice a month.
What kind of people come to the dinners?
It's a big mix of people. When I first started it was friends and younger people but now it goes from that to people in their sixties. [Mérida starts washing dishes.] In Vancouver where there aren't as many vegan restaurants, people would come in from the suburbs because they didn't really have anywhere to eat. Here [in New York] there are obviously a lot more options. There were a few other supper clubs in Vancouver, but when I started there was only one other and it wasn't vegan. Since then a lot of other ones have started. I'm always thinking of things I can do that aren't real jobs, proprietorship to proprietorship. I don't really know how to work for anybody else. I had a fashion line for four years, but I ended up breaking both of my arms at the same time.
Oh my god! How did that happen?
It was like two separate accidents and so a bunch of other things happened after that so I ended up taking a break [from the fashion line.] And I guess I am still on a break. So I opened up a gallery and art space in Vancouver. Then I started the supper club. I had already been cooking a long time and I wanted to write a recipe book, so it seemed like a great way to do that.
So did you end up writing the book?
Yeah. It's actually coming out next spring with Arsenal Pulp Press. They do a lot of vegan cookbooks and queer literature and stuff. They're based in Vancouver but I got that after I moved here.
At Home With The Secret Vegan Supper Club Chef