“The answer is in the question–Birmingham doesn’t need another meat-heavy restaurant. There is a great demand in this city for vegetarian and vegan food, the niche just hasn’t been filled yet.”
Name: Raven Dewitt
Occupation: Chef/Owner of Rara Avis
Creative Industry: Culinary
1. In the land of BBQ and burgers, why did you decide to focus on vegan food?
The answer is in the question–Birmingham doesn’t need another meat-heavy restaurant. There is a great demand in this city for vegetarian and vegan food, the niche just hasn’t been filled yet. I remember being a brand new, young vegetarian, and finding a severe lack of food that is both healthy and flavorful. I would like to do what I can to help fill that void. Also, in this meat heavy culture we have in the south, I’d love to show people that food does not need animal products to be delicious. I’ve already convinced a few self-proclaimed carnivores that they do indeed enjoy veggies.
2. What did you learn from the experience of your first pop-up dinner?
I was met with overwhelming support for my endeavors, by vegetarians and omnivores alike. I was initially fearful that I wouldn’t get the support, but that notion was completely changed by how much everyone loved my food.
The social aspect was quite enjoyable, as well. I set up a long communal table to inspire conversation among strangers which worked well–everyone seemed to have a blast!
3. What can we expect from your next pop-up dinner?
My next pop-up dinner will have more seats (50 instead of 30) and be much more public than my previous one. I’m hoping that people will enjoy the social experience of meeting so many strangers as well as the tasty food. The food style will be different as well, last time I did tamales, and this time I’m doing kati rolls (Basically an Indian burrito.)
4. What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do not be afraid. Put yourself out there, and you will be very surprised by the overwhelming amount of positive feedback, support, and wisdom that will come your way.Life is too short not to chase your dreams.
5. How did CO.STARTERS help push your ideas forward?
CO.STARTERS equipped me with the confidence to ask for help, pursue mentors, and some basic knowledge of numbers. I’ve never really worried about the cooking side of my business, but was a little shaky on the actual business side of things. I feel like a have a solid base from which I will work now. The support and networking that came from my time in the course encouraged me to take my first steps into entrepreneurship. I am immensely thankful to my CO.STARTERS family.
Photo by Clay Ousley.