Brooklyn chef Neal Harden has a passion for raw, plant-based cuisine that’s all natural and he brings that passion to his head chef position at Maimonides of Brooklyn (also known as M.O.B.). Supporting healthy lifestyles and community food economies, his focus is on developing delicious meals using fresh, organic, and bio-dynamic food from local providers.
With more than ten years of experience and education in the culinary arts, Chef Neal specializes in raw foods, vegan and vegetarian cuisine, healing and whole foods, and gluten-free cooking. But, what makes his vegetarian cooking so different from what other restaurants serve? With his focus being on fruits and vegetables and not meat substitutes, his cuisine is delectable enough to strike a cord with traditional carnivores as well. Rather than relying on soy powders, he uses real, fresh ingredients from local markets. According to Chef Neal at M.O.B., “we source what we can locally, which means greenhouse lettuce and a heap of potatoes and beets around March. We have some set menu items but leave room for seasonal changes so we can use ephemeral ingredients without feeling constricted.”
Chef Neal and M.O.B. uses and sells locally produced items like honey and maple syrup. They also use organic products like flour, soy, corn, and other ingredients with everything being non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). They even provide gluten-free bread upon request. Chef Neal has recreated traditional brunch flavors in many creative ways, explaining, “We make a biscuit sandwich with tomato, avocado and smoked, thinly sliced, marinated eggplant that gives you the smoky sensation of bacon; spicy, coarse Cayuga Pure Organics grits with shiitake mushroom sauce and kale; and an apple wood-smoked sausage with chickpea flour, shiitake mushroom and white sweet potato. The potato is cut into pieces to resemble bits of fat. It’s very aesthetic and textural.”
Chef Neal was drawn to Maimonides of Brooklyn because of their core premise that “no disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.” That is what they strive to do: bring people together by making food “medicine” for the body and soul.
After graduating in 2005 from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health, Neal became the Executive Chef of Pure Food and Wine in New York, a fine dining vegan food restaurant. Since that time, Neal has learned cooking techniques from other cultures, traveling the United States, Bali, Tokyo, and Paris.