Per Nation’s Restaurant News, Cohen’s game-changing vegan burger was inspired by a 2,000-year-old recipe dating back to China’s Song dynasty. After college, Cohen moved to Hong Kong where, she tells Michelin Guide, her appreciation and enthusiasm for plant-based cooking soared compared to the trend-soaked blandness of U.S. vegetarian offerings. During her studies with Chinese food scholars, says Vogue, she learned about a meat alternative called “yuguanfei” made from fried dough and red yeast rice (for color).
Cohen has been hesitant to reveal her veggie patty recipe but has shared via Gothamist that beans, mushrooms, and gluten-free grains were somewhere in the mix. She has since cued fans into a few more ingredients, including cannellini beans, portobello mushrooms, chili peppers, onions, and garlic. All 13 ingredients, Cohen says, are simple things “you can find in your kitchen cabinets.” Fittingly for the chef’s playful culinary dogma, the vegan patty is sandwiched inside a Japanese-inspired milk bun as Cohen says she’s bored with the predictable, whole wheat, “idealistically vegan” buns that so often accompany veggie burgers.
Earlier this week, Lekka Burgers opened its second location inside Midtown’s Urbanspace dining court. Cohen says she aspires to expand Lekka Burger restaurants into Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. Only time will tell what happens next for this chef revolutionizing New York City’s vegetarian food game.