Tell me about Blake Lane.
It's a concept that was put together by Suzannah Biel, she was a regular at the restaurant where I used to work. She wanted to do a small concept with healthy food. She has a passion for clean eating, balanced eating, no one fad: just an overall healthy diet. When they were going through the motions of opening up, they were looking for a chef and I was on my way out--had just finished working on a different project--so we came together to put this together.
We have two different menus: a lunch menu which is is very brunch-y. We have a great egg sandwich. We also have a poke bowl, which marinated tuna on rice--originally a Hawaiian dish, but it's really popular in New York right now. We have salads, smoothies, healthy tonics--which are drinks you have to kind of cleanse. It's a really easy menu to eat every day.
For dinner we switch gears a little bit: more developed flavors, entrees, more culinary.
How did you get started in the culinary world?
I grew up in the kitchen. My parents owned a pizza place and restaurant in Long Island. I was 9 when I started working there, but I didn't really consider cooking professionally until I was about 17. I went to college, graduated, and moved to Paris. I I lived there for a couple years, and then moved back to New York.
What was the highlight of your time spent in Paris?
I worked at a really great 3 Michelin star restaurant, L'Arpege, which was famous for using vegetables instead of meat, so I really found my love for vegetables there, which follows me here to this concept at Blake Lane, which is very vegetable-centered.
What is one cooking tip you have?
People don't use enough healthy fats: things like olive oil and nut oils. They're so important for developing flavor and for your own health. I think people shy away from using things like avocado and olive oil, but they're just great for you.
Favorite thing to cook outside of work?
Fish. I worked as a fish cook at some higher end restaurants, and it was always my favorite station. I love everything about it: I'll go fishing, catch the fish, go home, clean it, and then come up with a really nice, simple dish. It's a lot of fun.
See what Diego is cooking up for The Art of Food by purchasing tickets at www.artoffoodny.com