FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARCH 18, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 39
Queens artist creates vegetarian
cookbook with help from neighbors
BY SOFIA VALDES
When all there was to do was go for a
walk, local artist Rikki Asher found a new
way to connect with her neighbors during
“I would go for walks — which most of
us are doing — and if I see somebody in
my neighborhood, I’d stop them and I’d
say, ‘Hi, would you like to make a cookbook
with me?’ and oft en they would say,
‘Great, when do we start?’” Asher said.
Asher is the creator of the new vegetarian
cookbook, “Th e Art in Queens
Cuisine,” which features recipes from
cooks across Queens and her own drawings
of the delicious eats inside.
She fi gured that most people during
quarantine were looking for new recipes
to try so this plan would initiate interacting
with others by sharing recipes with
those in her community.
Many of her neighbors were eager to
get started but weren’t sure if they would
be able to contribute vegetarian dishes.
Asher suggested they look at old family
recipes or fi nd ways to substitute ingredients
to make their recipe vegetarian.
Queens is the most ethnically diverse
area on the planet and Asher wanted to
portray that in her cookbook by selecting
cooks from all around the world.
Asher’s cookbook features cooks and
bakers who are Bulgarian, Indian, Italian,
Hungarian, Filipino, Romanian, Russian
and Th ai.
Th e process behind making this cookbook
occurred virtually; neighbors would
send Asher their recipes and stories,
which she will then add into the book.
To add a personal touch, recipes include
a small anecdote on the side about each
cook. Also on every page is a piece of artwork
Asher made herself which highlights
an ingredient in a particular dish.
“For me, it’s a way of beginning to introduce
people to art and particularly cooking.
So not only the art of cooking but the
mindfulness of what’s going into the pot
and what it looks like and what’s the color
and what’s the texture of it,” Asher said. “I
guess, in a way, it’s rare to fi nd a vegetarian
cookbook that has illustrations by the
author. Th ere are some out there but the
diff erence between mine and those is that
mine really come out of the recipe.”
In the 30-page book, you can fi nd recipes
for salads, side dishes, entrées and desserts.
Some of the recipes include a bulgarian
eggplant spread, Italian baked stuff ed
mushroom dish and fi lipino cassava cake.
Aside from teaching people how to
cook vegetarian meals, Asher’s book has
another mission. She hopes to unify people
and spread love through her recipes.
One page of her cookbook, where she
gives a word about “Th e Art in Queens
Cuisine,” Asher wrote, “Art and cooking
may not change suff ering or violence in
this world, but eating delicious food and
being inspired by art may gladden the
hearts of those whose spirits are deeply
“Th ere are so many people suff ering;
not only the people who have COVID,
but their families,” Asher said. “So the
people who have COVID might not be
interested in food but their families need
food and so that is basically why I did it,”
Asher said she is truly thankful that
she has been able to cultivate friendships
among those in her neighborhood
because of the cookbook.
“Now we’re sort of friends and we look
out for each other if there is something
going on in the neighborhood,” Asher
said. “Or, we just say, ‘Hi,’ or share cookies
or something like that, which is really
great and it’s because of this cookbook.”
Around mid-November, the fi rst-edition
copies of “Th e Art in Queens Cuisine” sold
out. Th is high demand led her to create
a second-edition of her book which was
released just at the beginning of March.
Th e newest edition includes recipes
from two more chefs – including Asher –
as well as a collage of all the artists at the
end of the cookbook
If you are interested in purchasing
Asher’s book you can buy it for $12.99
on her website, or you can pick it up
in Q.E.D. Astoria and Kew and Willow
Books for $14.99.
Photos courtesy of Rikki Asher
“The Art in Queens Cuisine” is a vegetarian cook book created by a local artist and local chefs.