Farmington’s Chive Kitchen Keeps Vegan Eating Fun with Diverse Menu
Vegetables don’t have to be a letdown as a meal’s main attraction.
Suzy Silvestre, the owner and head chef of the all-vegan Chive Kitchen in Farmington, works to dispel the notion some have that vegan and health-food eating, in general, is boring. She said changing that mindset requires us to first change our approach in the kitchen.
“My biggest thing is teaching people that however they marinate a piece of meat they can do that with a mushroom or a piece of cauliflower,” Silvestre said, during an interview with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “And they can still get the flavors that they’re used to, or that they enjoy, or maybe flavors they didn’t know that they enjoy.”
Silvestre, a longtime vegan and San Francisco native, is as inspired by Western European flavor profiles as much as she is influenced by California fusion. At Chive you can grab a pesto panini sandwich for lunch and come back for a spicy fried “chickie” gochujang bowl for dinner.
“I just want to offer good food with flavor,” she said. “And original, too, I want to make sure I have diversity, so that someone who is vegan can come in here one day and get something with Asian flavors and then order something with Latin flavors the next, something they haven’t tried before.”
The vegan café’s malleable menu satisfies comfort food cravings, too, as the vegan Reuben, house burger, fried artichoke bowl and Bánh mì sandwiches demonstrate. Chive boasts hot and ready daily specials, deli items, homemade baked goods and more.
Before opening Chive in December 2015, Silvestre had always enjoyed experimenting with meat-free recipes at home.
After delivering her first child, Silvestre was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.
“The medications I was on weren’t working for me, so I started doing a lot of research,” she said. “That led me to a specific carbohydrate diet, basically a very clean diet. And I’ve always cooked, so I made sure that when I ate, I still enjoyed eating. That kept catapulting me into different things.”
The health scare led Silvestre to some delicious silver linings. Her goal was to keep her meals fun and tasty while cooking within the parameters of her dietary restrictions. Silvestre had to get creative to keep things interesting for herself, and now she does that at Chive for customers across southeast Michigan.
“Seasoning, flavor, styles of cooking, I just bring all of that to vegetables and plant-based items,” she said. “There’s so much more to come with when it comes to vegetables and grains than people may realize. And there are so many foods that can be vegan. You know, people don’t realize that stuff like mashed potatoes can be vegan. It doesn’t have to be all salads.”
Chive strives to serve the kind of food that will make anyone want to lick their plates clean – whether they’re vegan or not.
“A lot of our customers aren’t even vegan. They come here, they like the vibe,” she said. “My goal is always to have people that are meat-eaters to come and enjoy the food. “I’ll have people bring their grandpas, and so many people come through here with other people and I hear them say, ‘Oh, you’re going to like Chive.’”
Chive Kitchen’s address is 33043 Grand River Avenue in Farmington. Silvestre and her team also cater, host ticketed dinners and events, and run a wine club. The restaurant – which also offers a full bar – is open between Tuesday and Saturday from noon until 7 p.m. each day. Place an order at Chive or check out the menu by clicking here.
Silvestre’s tips for transitioning from a meat-based diet to a vegan diet
Whether you’re transitioning because of ethical reasons, health issues or both, Silvestre recommends keeping these things in mind:
Cook more at home: “You can kind of control things more (when you cook at home). It’s going to be healthier.”
Give yourself one “cheat” day a week as you begin to transition: “It doesn’t have to be overnight. Give yourself, one day a week where you can eat whatever you want. But the rest of the week, be cognizant of what you’re putting in your body. Veganism is your food, it’s your health, it’s what you’re putting in your body. You have to remember, most meat that you buy in the U.S. is mass produced. A lot of hormones, a lot of antibiotics. A lot of stuff you’re putting into your body. I think it’s important to know where your food comes from.”
When it’s time to quit, aim to get over the two-week mark: Silvestre “Give yourself at least two weeks. It takes just two weeks to not be as addicted to your old diet. Then hopefully you start feeling a little bit better. My friend has high blood pressure, she’s dealing with letting go of ribs and rib meat. She’s gotten better, but I told her, if you just don’t have it for two weeks, when you go and eat it, you’re going to be like, ‘Ah, I feel so gross.’”
Photo credit: Chuk Nowak
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- Aratham Gourmet to Go Brings Diverse Vegan Cuisine to Multiple Metro Detroit Locations