Much of our everyday existence is spent trying to discover and create meaning – exploring the pathways and modalities that speak to us as individuals. For Tara Thomas, Brooklyn-based chef, consultant, and creative, that meaning is drawn from wholesome food and the avenues to access it in her community. “My philosophy around food is to eat what feels good, nourish mentally, physically, and spiritually,” Tara tells us. Her philosophy extends to a larger vision: “My inner child wants to eradicate white supremacy through food.”
Since moving to Brooklyn from Portland in 2018, Tara has found a wealth of restaurants and people in the NYC food space who share in her vision, propelling it through the food and cuisine they produce and share with the community. We spoke with Tara about the spots in Brooklyn that bring light and flavor to her life, the dishes she always orders when she’s having a specific craving, the herbs and spices she’s digging in the garden, and so much more.
NBRHD: Tell us your story in a tweet:
Tara Thomas: Do what feels good, even if that means escaping expectations and nourishing the dreamy spirit of the child that lives in your core. My inner child wants to eradicate White Supremacy through food.
NBRHD: Tell us about your neighborhood – what do you love about it?
TT: I live in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, but I’m all around Brooklyn eating food, especially when I order in.
NBRHD: How would you describe your philosophy around food?
TT: My philosophy around food is to eat what feels good and nourish yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. I do not consume any animal products because I do not support the exploitive industry of factory farming and its spectrum. So I shall not manifest it into my being. Your health is a luxury – invest in it. Sometimes that’s having a salad, a sorbet, a vegan croissant sandwich, and a hearty lentil stew with braised greens. I welcome the spectrum.
NBRHD: Where do you find inspiration when you’re feeling burnt out?
TT: I find inspiration in myself. I tend to be left with myself when I’m burnt out. With some time and tender loving care, I will find my purpose again to serve my highest self.
NBRHD: What are the elements of a perfect meal (food and ambiance-wise)?
TT: Food-wise – greens, umami, and diverse textures. I love coriander and vinegar. Ambiance-wise – candlelight, a set table, florals, good food – company is optional.
NBRHD: Sweet or salty?
TT: Both! Chocolate chip cookie with Maldon salt!
NBRHD: Most underrated herb/spice?
TT: Fresh lovage and fresh coriander seeds straight from the garden!
NBRHD: What’s your favorite outside ingredient to add when you order in?
TT: There’s some stuff you just won’t do at home and leave to the professionals – for me, that’s paratha.
NBRHD: What are your plating tips to make delivery look pretty?
TT: Fresh herbs! Plate it in a vessel that brings you joy and garnish with intention.
Tara’s 8 Standout Spots In Brooklyn
- “Ursula opened in September of 2020 by chef Eric that pays homage to his grandmother Ursula through New Mexican cuisine. This playful Crown Heights eatery is just the pandemic baby Brooklyn needed. Ursula brings community together by offering takeout with a beautiful seating area. They offer pastry forward dishes I love the vegan sopaipilla (sweet and savory options), vegan breakfast burrito, and the Brutus Bakeshop miso chocolate chip cookies. Every Monday and Tuesday they host a queer chef to create a stage to bring equity into the food space.”
- “Brooklyn Beets Cafe is a health food spot in Oceanhill which is a food apartheid (desert) community in Brooklyn making organic healthy bites accessible. Beyond the most delightful smoothies, the patties bring homage to the community. The Haitian chef makes fresh and flakey patties, making a groove in the plant-based scene with the coconut stewed kale, jerk plantain, lentils, and pumpkin spice patties. Right off the Rockaway stop and adjacent to Phoenix Community Garden, it is a living and breathing brick and mortar that speaks regeneration of health to the community!”
- “Ali’s Original Roti Shop has got all of the West Indian hits. It’s my go-to fast food spot if I need something quick yet indulgent. I love getting a channa and potato vegetable roti and 3 doubles….with tamarind sauce. McDonald’s is next door and I don’t know how they are surviving because this is as real as fast food can get that can nourish you!”
- “Phoenix Community Garden every Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm year-round there is a community farmstand that is a protest against food insecurity. The weekly CSA box is crucial to my home cooking regime, I hate to think about what produce I want. I love being in flow with the seasons. There’s bread from L’imprimerie, vinegar from Tart, and lovely local pantry items. Community Garden CSA’s are the future of food and crucial to protesting against the White Supremacy.”
- “Chicky’s General is a lovely grocery and deli I love to find specialty pantry items to embellish my meals. The deli has delightful options for a quick bite to store in my fridge. The future of delis is Chicky’s!”
- “Mitch’s Provisions at Bed-Vyne Brew is a food sovereignty-based farmstand available Wednesdays and Thursdays. This space is an oasis on Tompkins Avenue with locally sourced produce items and fresh groceries…they have vegan apple cider donuts – it’s my secret!”
- “Nepalese Indian Restaurant in Ridgewood is the real deal. I grew up eating Indian food at home and in my community. Moving to NYC, it was a challenge to find Indian cuisine that honored a region. This is the freshest and most vibrant food I’ve had here. Every item on the menu tastes truly authentic. If you pay cash you get 10% off!”
- “Klom Klorm is my Thai spot – after two years in NYC with plenty of Thai food disappointment, this is the spot! From the spring rolls, paratha, noodle dishes, curries, and mango sticky rice everything is spot on!”
The Reorder: 5 of Tara’s go-to orders, depending on what she’s in the mood for.
“Pad See Ew From Klom Klorm with Tofu and no egg!”
“I love the salad rolls at this beautiful Vietnamese-American spot Falansai!”
Something you can eat with your hands:
“Chana Doubles from Ali’s Trinidad Roti Shop.”
“Beets Cafe Patties– something about the flakey crust. I tend to order 3 at a time. I’ll go for the coconut stewed kale, jerk plantain, and lentils…thank me later.”
Something that’s good for leftovers:
“Nepalese Indian Restaurant. I always order the pakoras and tarka dahl.”