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Three Questions For: Tanya Petrovna

May 19, 2010
Tanya Petrovna with "Weird Al" Yancovic

Tanya Petrovna with "Weird Al" Yancovic, art by Marc Librescu

Vegan chef Tanya Petrovna founded the first Native Foods Café in 1994. Since then, the vegan restaurant has expanded to six Southern California locations. Chef Tanya has written two vegan cookbooks and is currently working on a third. She’s been featured on the Food Network, in magazines and newspapers, and has made many TV and radio appearances. She’s currently Executive Chef at Native Foods Café.

1. It’s currently fashionable for comedians to make jokes about vegans. One comedian recently said that vegans were the last minority that it’s ok to make fun of. Why does veganism inspire derision?

I think it’s because vegans are such a compassionate group that they would never even scorn those who ridicule them!

2. I think that veganism is going to become a huge transformative movement as we head farther into the 21st century. When you started Native Foods Café back in 1994, the idea of starting a vegan restaurant probably seemed a little crazy to a lot of people. What made you think it would succeed?

Well, I only knew three things:

  1. That I would die trying to make sure it would succeed.
  2. I never entertained the thought that it wouldn’t succeed.
  3. Gandhi successfully freed India from British rule. Knowing what he had to go through to do it, the idea of starting a vegan restaurant chain seemed relatively easy.

3. I believe that after eating at Native Foods Café, people who were on the fence about becoming vegetarians would realize that it’s not difficult to give up eating meat. Do you have any plans to expand Native Foods Cafe outside of Southern California?

My goal was always to have a Native Foods Café on every corner to make this way of eating accessible, thus making eating compassionately as easy as getting a bucket of chicken wings. Last year, I partnered with two great friends and customers of nine years who had the business acumen that I needed, as well as the same values to uphold the core beliefs of the brand. It has been fortuitous for all of us!

So the answer is yes, we have actively been scouting outside of Southern California and…outside of California! I’ll be doing contests and quizzes on Twitter (nativefoodscafe) and Facebook (NativeFoods) when we officially announce the new locations. Stay tuned!

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