Healthy Restaurant Profile: Brooklyn Organic Kitchen in Mahopac NY
Armando Aviles and Sandra Marinelli
As owner and head chef of Brooklyn Organic Kitchen, a new American café and eatery in Mahopac, Sandra Marinelli keeps finding fresh ways to tempt us to eat right. Even as BOK has quickly built a loyal customer base with its health-supportive traditional meals, drinks and desserts, Marinelli has teamed up with chef Armando Aviles to offer a full complement of vegetarian and vegan alternatives. She recently talked to us about her life in the restaurant business and her goals with BOK’s ever-evolving menu.
What attracted you to this work?
Having grown up in a family that owned a pizzeria, I’ve always felt the most comfortable in the kitchen and behind-the-scenes cooking. Food was the center of our family functions, and as a daughter of Italian immigrants, you can only imagine the amount of pasta we ate! As I got older I found it hard to balance my love of food and my desire to be healthy and feel good. My first nutrition course in college opened up a whole new world of food to me and started me on this journey of cooking delicious food with health-supportive ingredients.
What’s one of the main catalysts that propelled you and the restaurant to where you are now?
Despite the resounding success early on, I always believed that Brooklyn Organic Kitchen could reach greater heights. I knew that cooking with fresh organic ingredients was important, but I also knew that so many people struggled with allergies and different dietary needs that it had become difficult for a family or group of friends to go out to eat together. This is when I decided that I wanted my menu to reach everyone.
Initially I was seeking a baker who specialized in vegan desserts, so I could offer vegan alternatives for everything on the menu. That’s when I met Armando Aviles, formerly head chef at Bear Mountain. He became vegan for health reasons, and during the pandemic he began experimenting more and more with vegan cooking. Armando holds a vision similar to mine and has become our savant of vegan cooking.
How has this partnership blossomed?
Since teaming up with Armando, I’ve noticed serious results. The menu is full of delicious vegan options, including desserts like our vegan carrot cake and death by chocolate, and vegan entrées
such as the hot agave mushroom ‘chicken,’ seitan ‘pastrami’ Reuben, and tofu ‘salmon.’ Our ultimate goal is for every item on the menu to have an equally delicious—if not better—vegan counterpart. Armando’s gift of flavoring foods has truly elevated the menu. This partnership has allowed me to complete that all-encompassing menu that I always knew would become an actuality.
What should someone expect coming into your restaurant?
Customers should expect to feel at home at Brooklyn Organic Kitchen, as the atmosphere is warm and inviting and we have a beautiful view of Lake Mahopac. They should also know that first and foremost we’re here to serve them, and we’re willing to modify any of our menu items to accommodate their dietary needs. I want to empower my customers to make conscious food choices that fit their lifestyle and diet. I always say that as long we have the ingredients and you’re willing to wait for it, we’ll make it for you. All our dishes are made fresh to order with the highest-quality ingredients available.
What are your plans for 2022?
I plan to expand the business through several enterprises. I’ve added a fixed-price dinner menu Thursday and Friday nights, in which each menu item can be either traditional or vegan. I’d like to host special dinners such as My Vegan Valentine, which was our first successful collaboration last year. Outside of the restaurant, we will continue catering for a number of private events, including vegan parties and weddings. In addition, we’ll attend New York City’s Vegandale Festival in September 2022. Lastly, I plan to host a number of off-site pop-ups in and around the Hudson Valley to share vegan experiences in areas where there is a lack of vegan options.
Brooklyn Organic Kitchen is located at 890 S. Lake Blvd, Mahopac, NY. For more information, call 845.621.2655, email [email protected] or visit BOKMahopac.com.