For chef Mantra, food has always been cathartic. The born-and-bred New Yorker grew up in Harlem, surrounded by a community and culture ingrained in all things culinary. While traveling the world, she discovered a passion for fusing wellness with healthy, good-for-your-body ingredients, and came back to New York with a mission: to fuse ethically sourced food and bioremediation with a greater understanding of – and communication with – the foods we are putting into our bodies.
To attain her goal, Mantra founded Remedi Food, a catering service and dinner club featuring events like Full Moon Dinners. Here, attendees come together over what Mantra calls “remedial rave food,” as the full moon blazes overhead in the New York City sky.
“People in my community are ravers,” Mantra explains. “That means that our bodies are exhausted, and we need to mend our bodies with real, nutrient-dense food that prepares the body to receive the sound [of] our cathartic release.”
The Full Moon Dinners operate out of several spaces: Nowadays and Trans-Pecos in Ridgewood, Queens, and Magick City in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The rooms are often set up to encourage conversation and community building – the cavernous spaces are peppered with long communal tables and a full bar – and attendees include everyone from ravers to New Yorkers simply itching to join a community passionate about ecologically sourced food.
For each dinner, the menu curation process happens on the fly, depending on what’s available at the Union Square Greenmarket and Bushwick Food Co-op that morning; there are neither menus nor processed foods, animal products (aside from honey) or ecologically ignorant materials. Dishes are vegetable-focused, and in the past have included things like a macro bowl flush with coconut sticky quinoa, crowned with rainbow beets, beet greens, lotus roots, foraged burdock and three kinds of mushrooms.
While Mantra may be the lead in the kitchen, she also takes inspiration from her community. For anyone who can’t afford the $25 ticket, Mantra offers volunteering opportunities in the kitchen; for a couple of hours before the event, she’ll teach cooking skills, and in return, volunteers become a key player in helping her successfully pull off the dinner.
“The full moon is the best time to rejoice and come out with your community to inspire people to become more present with all of their senses,” Mantra says. “[We] join together over the very base essential element of life: feeding ourselves.”