TEVA Rio de Janeiro- interview Daniel Biron
After traveling the world, studying in New York (Natural Gourmet Institute), working in Paris and an internship at one of the best restaurants in the world Noma in Copenhagen, Daniel Biron (40), moved back to his hometown of Rio De Janeiro to open his own restaurant Teva.
Back in 2000 I was influenced by friends to become a vegetarian, they were very spiritually connected so my first reasons to live a more plant based life was more esoteric.
Practicing yoga, getting more information on animal rights, reading more and participating in online groups got me to decide to become vegan.
The reason why I’m vegan today is completely different from the reason why I started.
Now it’s strictly for ethical and animal rights. Of course there is the environment and differentas well that help but the most important to me is being ethical.
‘In 2009 I started looking for something more meaningful to do with my life.
I was working as a graphic designer at the time and had the idea of changing careers but didn’t know what to do. Having been a vegan for a few years, I was always asking myself why is it that vegan food in Brasil is always the same. Replacing meat with black beans to make it vegan instead of making something more contemporary and new.
So it’s a mix of my philosophy and necessity that made me move towards cooking.
When you want to start living a more plant based lifestyle getting that connection with food and ingredients is extremely important. Start learning about ingredients and how they effect you. A lot of "Vegan beginners" tend to eat lots of processed foods, not beneficial for your system. But it's a process sometimes people need that to find their way.
Another thing is try to mingle socially with people that think alike. Because that’s probably the most challenging think about being a vegan. Find people that have common ground, who you can share ideas with. Not necceraly vegans but people that have that understanding and respect.
It made me think that there was room for a good place that happens to be vegan or happens to be plant based, just a place that serves good vegetables and not stereotypical vegan.
Not stigmatizing or stereotypical like most vegan restaurants are here in Brazil.
To be a vegetable restaurant, I don’t want to be labeled as a vegetarians restaurant.We are a vegetable bar & restaurant that happens not to serve meat products.
I don’t want to be in the category of vegetarian restaurants, people try to label you whatever you do. To be one of the best restaurant in Rio, that’s the goal. I don’t wanna be the best Vegan, the best vegetarian, that’s really pointless.
Our mission is not to convert people to veganism Just to make good food and show people that meatless menus can be as excellent as regular menus.
We needed to get it right to make the Teva concept cater to a wide audience; great food along with creating a positive and great experience in terms of ambience, lighting, music, service. We change the lighting depending on the time of the day, low light and loud music.
During the day we have a completely different playlist, more inviting and welcoming to young couples with kids. Because when you go out to dine it’s not only about the food, it’s about the whole experience, the vibe, the memories your are creating.
It is also the reason why I specialized in desserts. During my time at culinary school I met Fran Castigan one of the most famous pastry chef in the vegan world. I took extra classes with her, was her assistant on many occasions, because I felt that having a complete meal it really makes a difference if you have a great dessert.
When people walk out of the restaurant if they didn’t eat perfectly well but they had an excellent dessert they won't forget the rest but they’ll remember the last thing they had. Which doesn’t mean we don’t make the best food we can but we are also trying to make the best dessert we can.
So I also like to do a lot of gluten free things because it gives people the option. all our desserts are gluten free and I can asure you no-one can tell. I someone is intolerant they can eat it and will love it someone you doesn’t have problems with gluten they’ll have it the same way. You don't have to think about it that’s the idea.
Teva is also an expression of the place where it’s located. We are in between a tire shop that has been here for 55 years and a hardware store.
That’s where our modern industrial look comes from, but imparts a coziness at the same time.
Everything was thought of, even the bar.
The size of the bar, if you look at it it takes up a lot of space of the restaurant in terms of proportion. We know we wanted to create to experience of connecting to people just wanting to have a drink.
There are a lot of stereotypes among non vegetarians about vegans; that vegans don’t drink alcohol for some reasons. We understand the reasons why, usually veganisme is associated with health issues.
We do worry about health , our ingredients are for the most part organic, not fried, but we do have some fried food, we do have some alcohol, we do have some things that are not whole wheat or wholesome flours but that’s a choose.
We let our clients make their chooses, it you want to eat Raw perfect we have that option. If you want something fried or a burger fine we have that too.
People sometimes come here not knowing we are a plant based restaurant. We market ourselves as a vegetable restaurant maybe that’s why.
There will be times that the are afraid to try our broccoli, but that’s fine they can have fries, they can have a burger. Go for the safe option.
Our mission is to be as sustainable as possible. We are very concerned with environmental issues and aim to reduce our footprint by recycling and composting.
We try not to generate trash, we don’t serve anything that comes in plastic bottles of any kind, all our water is filters and gassed here on site. So we have sparkling water from the house. All he fabrics form the waiters, cushions are made from recycled plastic.
Also the deck outside is looks like wood but is used to be plastic, the tables are from reclaimed wood.
In Hebrew the word Teva is commonly understood to mean Nature, but it’s lesser known meaning is “to imprint” a mark. We believe that we should imprint our mark as a positive legacy for future generations. Teva's main goal is to show people that vegetables offer amazing and surprising flavors, and provide healthy alternatives to meat and animal by products.