With more and more diverse culinary offerings popping up in the neighborhood, it’s only fair that vegans are getting in on the action, too. Enter Cuffie Ridge, a vegan café and juice bar at 154 Huron St., which is setting itself apart from others in the neighborhood by drawing inspiration from the owner’s native town in Jamaica.
The café is named after a small community in the hills of St. Ann, Jamaica, where owner and decades-long vegan Ashé grew up and was heavily influenced by local flavors and cooking techniques, especially those used by his own parents.
“The inspiration came from my socialization, how I grew up. My father was a Rastafarian, I never really grew up having meat. My father was a farmer, so we had every fruit and vegetable you could imagine, so we ate off the land,” Ashé recalled. “I studied food and beverage, and I understood the composition of food and its health benefits; so that was really the inspiration, doing health in a tasty way.”
And with offerings including pastries, smoothie bowls, juices, and even vegan Jamaican “meat” patties, it’s safe to say that taste is not falling by the wayside. But these aren’t just typical vegan treats — Ashé prides himself on innovation by employing different organic ingredients, from molasses to blue spirulina, to his recipes, many of which he’s been working on for years.
“Most of the things I carry are me twisting my parents’ recipes. I’ve created a lot on my own, but the spices I use, they’re all Jamaican herbs and spices that I grew up on. I use bay leaves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, fresh garlic,” he explained. “My mom cooked a certain way, she had a way of making a vegetable taste like meat; it’s the same concept.”
While Cuffie Ridge has only been around since October, the idea has been a long time coming, including having the space secured since 2019 (before the timeline was disrupted by COVID-19). And Ashé, who also runs a vintage store at Greenpoint Terminal Market, admits that while the work is challenging, his positive mindset combined with a love for the community keeps him going.
“Greenpoint has a vibe that I love,” he said. “It’s eclectic, but at the same time there’s a certain type of ease. People who are coming in are showing love. I’m holding firm, it’s a dream realized; it’s beautiful.”
Over time, he hopes to continue to expand people’s understanding of how tasty vegan food can be while seeing more and more new faces coming through the door.