Creativity in the kitchen is something that is expected out of any top chef these days. Daphne Cheng takes creativity to a whole new level, creating memorable experiences for some very lucky guests. These experiences revolve around her amazing vegan creations. The young chef has a fascinating background and the spirit and hunger of a true entrepreneur. She’s been involved in some amazing projects including an intimate East Village super club known as Dinner with True Friends, managing her own catering company, and most recently the much talked about Suite Three Oh Six. Daphne is currently in the process of starting a new venture, and it sounds oh-so delicious.
When asked if becoming a chef was a lifelong dream she tells us that cooking wasn’t something that really caught her attention until she was in her teens. Interestingly enough, she admits that overcoming an eating disorder during those years is what got her into eating and cooking healthy. This is when she began experimenting with vegan cuisine. “Food was literally my therapy” says Cheng. Growing up in a Chinese family, she admits her background has influenced her cooking, but somewhat indirectly. None of her food is obvious or easily classified; instead there are hints, flavor profiles, and elements which can be attributed to specific places. She likes to call it “ethnically ambiguous.” On the top of her list of places to visit is Thailand, as she is a fan of bold flavors, fresh curries, and spices. She would also love to dine at the world famous Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark.
So what is it about supper clubs and these intimate settings revolving around food that people love so much? Daphne believes it’s the chance these events offer people to truly get to know one another, while sharing a passion for food that goes above and beyond. “You’re stuck at a dinner table for 2 to 3 hours, you can’t make small talk for that long, you actually end up engaging in deeper conversations” says Cheng. And in a city where stopping is rare, and we spend more time staring at screens than at each other, people are craving meaningful human contact. This is what Daphne Cheng offers, along with some mind-blowing food. Expect the unexpected, as her menus are usually unannounced. But be ready to be marveled, and for your taste buds to experience things they never have before. Even if you don’t become a vegan the next day, you will never think of vegetables the same way.
Words by Romy Rolof
Photography by Xavier Scott Marshall