New cookbook blends vegetarian food and art
by Samantha Galvez-Montiel
Dec 09, 2020 | 7785 views | 0 0 comments | 919 919 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rikki Asher, a New York City visual and teaching artist, is the force behind a new vegetarian cookbook inspired by her neighbors, which helped them stay connected during the pandemic.

Asher has been an ethical vegetarian for over 20 years.

“I want to introduce vegetarianism to the general public, so I thought this would be the best way to do it,” said Asher.

Asher resides in Rego Park and her vegetarian cookbook is called The Art is Queens Cuisine. It contains 11 of her neighbors’ recipes accompanied by her own watercolor illustrations.

“The concept was to illustrate each recipe with a watercolor painting that expressed a connection with one ingredient in each recipe,” said Asher. “Anecdotes accompany every recipe page.”

Each recipe represents a different culture. The amateur chefs are Bulgarian, Indian, Filipino, and many more. Although Asher likes all the recipes in the book, one favorite is her neighbor Ben’s recipe for roasted eggplant.

The recipes in the cookbook are easy to prepare and cook.

“Some people think about having a plant-based diet, but they don’t know how to do it,” Asher said. “The best way to start vegetarianism or veganism is to prepare and eat a vegetarian meal. This book can offer somebody who is figuring it out a way to do it.”

You can buy the cookbook at the Kew and Willow Bookstore and at the Red Pipe Cafe, both located in Forest Hills. Asher is also working on a cookbook of her own recipes that will be called On the Way to Mindful Vegetarian Cooking.

Asher is recognized for her award-winning murals, silk, and oil paintings. She received her MFA in painting from the City University of New York at Lehman College and earned a Doctorate in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

She was a professor and director of Art Education at Queens College for 17 years.

Asher currently serves as artist-in-residence at Lenox Hill Hospital in a program she developed (Art by the Bedside). To see more of her artwork, visit

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