After becoming vegetarian at age 15, and later vegan at 20, Evanice got creative with her family’s traditional Cuban cooking recipes so that she could continue to enjoy the typically meat-heavy dishes. She began “veganizing” her father's and grandmother's recipes, which grew into her very own vegan pop-up and full-time catering business, based in LA, called Señoreata. Let's get to know her better...
Tell us about your journey becoming vegan, and then a vegan chef. When did you first become interested in plant-based cooking and how has your career evolved over time to get you to where you are today, running your own company, Señoreata.
I stopped eating animals when I was 15, after I made the connection between the language we as a society use for eating animal parts and the animals themselves – I realized pork, ham, and bacon were euphemisms for eating a pig. When I understood the origin of where the food I was being given came from, I became vegetarian right away. My interest in cooking, of which I had none prior, began via necessity. I lived with my father who didn’t know what to cook after I became a vegetarian, so I began cooking for myself. I finally went vegan at age 19 or 20 after a New Year’s resolution to try it out for 2 months – it’s been 10 years now! Food is such a personal, touchy subject, because it’s home for so many people. It’s a gathering, a birthday party, your favorite childhood dish that your parent would make you, it’s the chicken soup that healed you when you stayed home from school – the associations are endless, which is why it’s so hard for many to give up eating meat. This is also why often times a shift to a plant-based diet changes one’s life, as it did mine. I wouldn’t have my business, Señoreata, were it not for the inspiration I derive from eating plants.
You're a vegan, Cuban, and Brazilian chef – tell us about this unique paring. How did this combination of culture and cooking style come about and how has it evolved over time.
I missed the dishes my grandmother and father would make me and knew there had to be a way to eat them again, so I began ‘veganizing’ the Cuban recipes I grew up with as a child. This was around ten years ago. I asked my father for his recipe to make picadillo (typically made with ground meat) and later made a vegan version for myself for the first time. It tasted just like I had remembered. I would make it for special occasions, when family would visit, for friends, or simply when I had craving. Today, I serve picadillo to hundreds of people a month at Señoreata.
Where can we try your food?! Tell us about your pop-ups and catering services.
I have 3 recurring pop-ups a week. Sundays at Smorgasburg LA from 10 AM – 4 PM, Wednesdays at The Other Door in Burbank/North Hollywood from 5 PM – 10PM, and Fridays at Block Party Highland Park from 6 PM – 10 PM. I cater in between those days anywhere from on-set to weddings. I also do many one-off events in other areas, which you can keep posted about on my Instagram @senoreata.
What do you love most about cooking? How do your passions and values align with your cooking style?
I love the sense of intuition behind cooking. The process is something very passionate, creative and cerebral. When I make a dish, I may have a thought come to mind, but that single thought has various roots like timing, flavor, taste sensations, etc. I get a momentary high off of the freedom I have in creating a dish. Momentary, because cooking is all about timing, there’s a window for everything and the opportunity is yours to explore and bring something new to the table, but better do it fast before the garlic burns. I’m very fortunate to be able to earn a living doing what I love most. It’s easy to be inspired by food that looks so beautiful, food that didn’t suffer, scream, and cry before it made its way to your hands.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
I love how much it’s taught me about resilience and being confident in my decisions. It’s also taught me the value of time and the importance of what I fill my time with. Being on such a tight schedule, I’ve learned a lot about honoring the moments I get with people, doing activities, or by actions that will help me thrive by lifting me higher.
What motivates you?
The pursuit of freedom both motivates and makes me happy. I find that I’m very motivated by actions that will bring me closer to freedom, be it a vacation or just time alone. I’m also very happy when I know I’ve worked hard to enjoy that freedom.
Is there a great phrase or motto you live your life by?
When I was 21, juggling a 4.0 at two colleges, working 3 jobs, with no car – I came home beyond stressed and emotional about the responsibilities and pressures that came with being a struggling young adult. My father told me to “stop giving a fuck,” in those words exactly. The moment was fleeting, but I still remember exactly where we were in the house as I heard him say that to this day, it’s something I live by.
When do you feel the most alive?
I feel the most alive when I honor my need for freedom and escape in solitude. I began traveling alone a couple of years ago starting with solo road trips to Joshua Tree, then later, a year end road trip to Marfa, TX and White Sands, New Mexico, and wandering alone in Europe. Solitude, freedom, and letting go is the best soul medicine you can give yourself.
What is next for you? What are your biggest dreams?
I am so utterly pleased and consumed by the present moment, that whenever I’m asked this I don’t have an answer. I find time making plans for a future that is so uncertain, a waste of time. I can only hope I feel as free and happy as I do now, making the most of the time I have here.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I write haikus in a little notebook every night before I sleep. I love haikus because their nature makes them a very attainable day end goal that stimulates my mind and keeps me off my phone.
Book - I’m really inspired by the Georgian Era and all of John Keats’ writing, particularly his letters. I’ve always had a penchant for words and embellishments, which John Keats did so ideally. His love letters are the gold standard.
Movie - A film I’ve watched more than a handful of times this year alone is The Song Remains the Same, Led Zeppelin’s concert film from 1976. No explanation needed – just watch Robert Plant in his fantasy dreamscape scene for The Rain Song and Jimmy Page’s bow guitar solo during Dazed and Confused.
Artist - I studied Art History in college, and connected most with Post Impressionists like Seurat and Van Gogh. They painted their emotions on the modern world, but they didn’t hand it to viewers like the French painters before them – they left clues, symbols, and outlines for us to interpret. I think a lot of their sentiments can be applied to our changing digital world today.
Your TOP 3 HANDBAG ESSENTIALS...
Apart from the standard wallet, phone and keys…I always have #1: A chapstick and lip tint combination – most of my work days are 16-17 hour days that I spend half in a kitchen and half inside a shaded canopy selling food. As I rarely have the time for makeup, I like to use this combo to give my face a little more life when I’m out. #2: Breath spray – I don’t chew gum or eat mints, so this is a quick way to freshen up throughout the day. #3: AirPods – I’m constantly on the go, whether it be at the kitchen or sourcing ingredients, so I like have a soundtrack wherever I go.
Connect with Evanice at Señoreata: @SEÑOREATA
Photos by @CAMBRIA_FODEN
March 12, 2019