NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Cooking has always been an art. Now, you can find both -- artfully put together meals along with the works of local artists at Jolo's Kitchen in New Rochelle.
The vegan cultural restaurant, as it calls itself on its website, has been on North Avenue for eight years but recently expanded (as of March) to a second, larger location on Lawton Street where an extensive back room now serves as a gallery. Going on now: an inaugural exhibition featuring the work of New Rochelle resident Anne Bedrick.
The show, "Iterations in Oil Paint," will be on display until Sept. 18.
According to Alexi Brock, an artist in her own right and the wife of Steve Brock, who partnered with Marco (aka Chef Jolo) Moise to open this second locale, incorporating a gallery has always been an important part of the restaurant's mission.
Walking into the eatery, one can't help but be struck by four landscapes by Alexander Rutsch as well as a portrait he did of Moise 20 years ago.In addition there are other portraits, along with African masks, granary doors, as well as photographs of Bob Marley and other musicians. (Moise was part of a rap group years ago produced by Pete Rock.)
"Art and music are highly promoted at Jolo's," said Brock. "We've held many events for spoken word, music and art."
That's not the only thing that makes the restaurant unique. Jolo's only serves plant based food, inspired by Ital.
Ital, for those who don't know, is derived from the word vital, which reflects the Rastafarian practice of deriving words by replacing significant syllables with the character "I." Ital cooking is a way of preparing and cooking food that is consistent with Rastafarian beliefs and practices, explained Brock.
Long story short: Ital cooking excludes the use of salt, meat (especially pork), preservatives, colorings, flavorings or anything artificial.
Instead, coconut milk extracted from grated coconuts serves as the base for most successful dishes as does Pimento (allspice) and Thyme.
Brock, a Pelham native, said Moise, who came to New Rochelle from Haiti when he was 12, also cooks and serves only alkaline water. "Alkaline water has a higher pH level than does plain tap water, " she explained. "Proponents say it can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your metabolism and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively."
All of which feeds into the motto prominently displayed on the Jolo website: "Food, Music, Art and Good Vibes always."
Go to www.joloskitchen.com/ for more information.