Ok, this is gonna be good, tasty fun. For this Sunday’s gathering in Woodstock, the theme is PLAY. Our pal, Jacinta Bunnell, who’s the visual artist for this gathering, suggested we reach out to Lagusta for our food offering. And, damn, am I glad we did. Lagusta is a gourmet chocolatier who runs Lagusta Luscious in New Paltz. She designs and makes chocolates by hand, like the bonbon she invented for this Sunday’s gathering!! Inspired by the theme of play, she has come up with something wonderful and rare and I CANNOT WAIT to taste it. Join us this Sunday for Lagusta’s special creation. Sunday, July 31st at noon at Bearsville Theater.
“Lagusta Yearwood” is not a nom de chef referring to the joys of eating with gusto, French spiny lobsters (les langoustes), or the Spanish verb for “to like” – it’s the kind of name you get when your parents are hippies who met in the mud at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. It’s pronounced with a GUS in the middle, most emphatically not a GOO.
Lagusta Yearwood is a restless rabble-rousing chef-turned-chocolatier who’s in love with deep flavor, ethical sourcing, farmers, lactic acid fermentation, noodles, and, of course, chocolate. An ethical vegan since age fifteen, her life’s work is to show the mainstream culinary world that vegan confections can be just as decadent, high-quality, and innovative as those made with animal products.
Ms. Yearwood trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and worked for many years with mentors at Bloodroot, a gourmet 39-year-old feminist-vegetarian restaurant and bookstore in Connecticut, and has done endless private cooking jobs around New York City and New Jersey. From 2001-2010 she ran a vegetarian meal delivery service bringing handcrafted meals featuring local produce to New Yorkers from Battery Park to Woodstock.
Her handmade gourmet vegan chocolate and caramel confections have been sold online at lagustasluscious.com and at NYC pop-up locations since 2003. After years of cooking in rented kitchens, she renovated a former laundromat in downtown New Paltz, NY (75 miles north of NYC) to become a tiny little chocolate shop, which opened in June 2011. In the past five years the chocolate shop and mail order business has quadrupled in size, allowing her to employ and train a diverse crew of chocolatiers similarly committed to confection perfection.
The Lagusta’s Luscious brick-and-mortar shop features dozens of varieties of sweets, pastries, high-quality Drinking Chocolates, and homemade small-batch ice creams which are heavily influenced by the organic produce available from farms within five miles of the shop. From Strawberry-Almond Creams in June to the Autumn Bonbons (with local chestnuts, rum, maple cream, and pumpkin) in September, Lagusta’s Luscious aims to evoke a poetic appreciation for a certain place at a certain time, captured in one or two bites. Many regular customers don’t know (or don’t care) that the chocolates are vegan, though the shop is often inundated with out-of-town vegan visitors making pilgrimages to the ethical temple of sweetness tucked away in a sleepy upstate village.
In 2016 Lagusta and her partner opened a third-wave coffee shop with seasonal food specials around the corner from the chocolate shop, Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary!, as well as a New York City outlet for their chocolates, Confectionery!, at 440 East 9th Street in Manhattan.
Lagusta has contributed to several books, including Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and the Sexual Politics of Meat, the Best of Bloodroot cookbook series, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Pie In The Sky cookbook as well as several articles for the Guardian newspaper blog, Comment is Free. Her chocolates have been featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, The Valley Table, Edible Manhattan, Edible Hudson Valley, and The Hairpin, among other publications and websites. She has been named a “Rising Star Chef” by Karen Page, author of the seminal text The Flavor Bible.
Visit the Lagusta’s Luscious shop website at www.lagustasluscious.com.