Candle 79 Chef Angel Ramos Adds a Pinch of Mexican Soul

Written by Katie Vann

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A vegan tourist’s New York City itinerary isn’t complete without a stop at Candle 79 restaurant. Well-known for its gourmet cuisine, popular cookbook, and frozen meal line in Whole Foods, one of Candle 79′s behind-the-scenes talents is now shining in the spotlight: Chef Angel Ramos.

Chef Ramos has worked at Candle 79 for 16 years, working his way up the ranks to executive chef, and he was recently interviewed by NBC Latino about his passion for creating “vegan food with Mexican soul.”

For anyone interested in spicing up their own cooking, take note from Ramos, who loves infusing traditional Mexican flavors – moles, cilantro and even tequila – into vegan dishes.

“The real secret is that you have to treat proteins like tofu, seitan and tempeh just like meat,” said Ramos. “The issue is that those proteins don’t have flavor, so you have to infuse it with a marinade to make sure it’s packed with lots of dimension. If you use tempeh, boil it for at least 10 minutes to remove the bitterness. Then you can use it just like you would tofu, cutting into your desired thickness and shape. After you cut it, you’ll want to marinate it for a few hours in a marinade of fresh herbs, garlic, plenty of salt and pepper and lemon juice. Then treat it just like meat: grill it, sauté or broil it.”

Ramos also stresses the importance of using fresh produce and cooking with fruits and vegetables that are in season in order to get the most flavor in your dishes.

Want to add some Mexican soul to your cooking routine? Browse through our recipes for vegan “chicken” quesadillas, veggie tamales, or chile rellenos — recipes that are included in our Comida Con Amigos Spanish recipe guide! Well-versed in Spanish? Download our free Spanish PDF — or, English versions of all the recipes are available at VegRecipes.org.