Some chefs spend years in pricey culinary institutes trying to master natural foods. Deborah Gavito, proprietor of the snazzy NYC vegetarian restaurant Counter, learned the art of cooking with seasonal produce and edible weeds from her grandmothers. Gavito’s early fascination with natural cooking has grown into a long-time dedication to local and sustainable foods: her first venture, an all-natural baked goods business called Body & Soul, debuted in 1993. She sold her scrumptious treats at the Union Square Greenmarket, where she developed an appreciation for family farmers, and earned enough dough (pun intended) to open Counter in 2003. As Counter’s proprietor, Gavito designs fresh vegetarian fare, biodynamic wines and cleverly named organic vodka martinis (one is called “The Angry Lesbian”). "I waited on tables years and years ago, but other than that, I've only worked for myself,” Gavito says. “I don't think I could take orders from any one else."