Meet the woman who will soon be bringing Las Vegas its FIRST Vegan Bakery & Bistro 100 % Cruelty Free Kitchen! This is an exciting time to be vegan in Las Vegas. Vegas is becoming more interested in veganism which encourages more people to go vegan and for new vegan businesses to flourish. That is great news for Las Vegas’ local environment, health, and economy. Here our Q & A with Vegan Chef Mayra:
1. Where are you from? What inspired you to become a chef?
I was born in Mexico, City, I am 1/2 Cuba and 1/2 Lebanese (Arabic). I speak 3 Languages, Spanish, Portuguese and English must of the time. What inspired me to become a chef was creating beautiful food and making food that will make people go “awwww” that looks so good! As a kid, I loved to cook for others!! Loved to bake, love to entertain, I love food, I love the amazing things you can do and how creative you can become. Is like art and Magic! I make my living as a vegan chef, but I didn’t start out as one.
I trained in Florida, learning all the classic techniques—you name it, I cooked it. Then I got different jobs in all aspect of the kitchen and in a fine dining in Florida making very elegant low fat food, lots of bright, beautiful salads and grilled vegetables. Although I ate meat at the time, it was exciting to create dishes without it. The best part of cooking in Florida is I had amazing materials at my disposal. The plant world is full of brilliant flavors. I was already in the healthy eating industry also cooking for Athletes and body builders. They inspired me to also work out 5 days a week to the point I started to compete myself. And because I wanted to learn how to keep low fat and endurance, I started to research how to eat- cook- shop and help my clients and my kitchen create better non packaged foods.
Long story short, “I became vegan” as a chef. I learned that I could make terrific, satisfying food without animal products. I did not lose my style and cuisine but it made my flavor better than ever!
2. When and why did you go vegan?
I became vegan because of food production, food politics and as a voice for animals to stop animal cruelty. I know as vegan first hand that eating vegan can be fabulous because in my kitchen, humble nuts and veggies become the stuff of culinary magic. Personally, I become vegan in late 2004 or early 2005 and my business transitioned 100% Vegan in 2006.
3. What is the vegan scene like in Las Vegas?
When I became a vegan it was so hard to find places to eat and hang. However, it gave me an opportunity to teach cooking classes and speak about “how easy is to become a vegan”. I became a resource, an educator and support for whoever was ready to learn and explore. Now in 2011 it’s much better. However still a challenge…
Restaurant are more familiar, you can ask your server to make it vegan and they will try their best. The city does not have 100% vegan restaurants as right now. Till I open mine and I am blessed and I am very happy of this opportunity.
I will like to give all my props to Go Raw Cafe a 100% raw vegan cafe. Go Raw Cafe has being a great model for me to establish an interest in the vegan world here in Vegas. As a future Bakery & Bistro owner, I am grateful for their presence in our city.
Another great place is restaurant Atomic # 7. Atomic # 7 is a prime example of why Vegas is ready to embrace veganism and a healthy you. Atomic # 7 is “A Healthy Option” ice cream shop that caters to the vegan and gluten free community. They are a very successful store. Atomic # 7 has been in business for a little under one year and they are doing an amazing job. The vegan scene is changing for the best among other veg friendly spots.
4. What advice would you give someone just starting their vegan journey?
Whatever is your space right now – hold your truth & stay strong, you are part of the change. Stay focus, remember why you decided to create and be part of a cruelty free word. Stay focus and remember why choosing vegan is good for your health and planet. Stay focus and remember why choosing vegan is the best for our next generation and our current children.
There are lots of resources and fun ways to cook and learn how to be a compassionate consumer. Education, activism, higher spiritual growth and community involvement gives the opportunity to any vegan to continue to get stronger in their journey for the compassion and love to all species. A healthy you and planet health is a bonus when you choose vegan.
If you are a vegan now, thank you and congratulations for the love you have and compassion for every living species out there, including our “Human race “.
5. What is your favorite dish to create?
I love my Caribbean & Southwestern Fusion. Love to create flavor! One of My Favorite dishes are “Chipotle Orange Marinated Tofu with Mango & Tarragon sauce” in a bed of brown basmati almond rice. Another favorite is “Vegan Chicken Flautas with Cilantro & Garlic Pesto” served with guacamole and Cuban rice and beans.
YUM YUM YUM! All cakes and desserts Ohhhh my! LOVE to bake too!
6. Aside from cooking, what other activities do you enjoy?
I enjoy activism, dancing, movies, card games, walking & running. Also love creating new recipes and public speaking.
7. Where can we find your vegan dishes?
Some of my desserts are found at Rainbows End Health food Store. Soon you will find all my signature dishes and amazing desserts at my NEW The Bakery & Bistro. It will be open to the public very soon…
Watch the weekly Show “The Lean, Green & Sexy” cooking show every Wednesday at 12pm (PST).
For all my vegan tips, recipes and resources visit http://www.chefmayrakitchen.com/
8. What projects are you currently working on?
Spanish TV, E cook Book (English and Spanish), video recipes, new dessert line and wholesale line will available in Las Vegas retails areas and my NEW Bakery & Bistro 100 % Cruelty Free Kitchen . All Projects are “ALL VEGAN ALL THE TIME” ™!