PLEASE NOTE THAT AS OF 2015 OUR CHEF’S COOPERATIVE NO LONGER EXISTS AND PAOLA HAAS IS NO LONGER A CHEF IN OUR CAFE. CURRENTLY, ROBERTA & IVO, TWO ITALIAN CHEFS, MAKE VEGETARIAN & VEGAN DINNERS ON MON & WED EVENINGS.
The most recent chef to join our cooperative is Paola Haas – originally from Mexico and Rome resident for many years. She serves up traditional and authentic vegetarian Latin American food on Sundays from 7-9:30pm. She also has vegan and gluten-free versions of her dishes available upon request as well. This interview with Paola is the first installment as I profile all of our chefs in upcoming posts.
1. Where are you from? What brought you to Rome?
I come from Mexico City, and moved to Italy to study art and design more than two decades ago.
2. How did you hear about The Beehive and what made you decide to become a part of the chef’s cooperative?
I found out about The Beehive from my friend Paolo Casassa, who runs Clover and Acacia guestrooms. When the idea of a Mexican or Latin-American evening came out, I jumped in immediately, as there are very few places in Rome where you can get this kind of cuisine– and The Beehive, with its international, innovative spirit is the perfect place to offer it.
3. Can you describe the kinds of food you prepare on your evenings at The Beehive?
I strive to prepare only authentic food, the kind you would have at a real Latin-American home, the kind your Mamá or your Abuela would cook… in a vegetarian version. Only ingredients that are true to the recipes are used, which can be difficult as we are across the ocean! I also try to keep a balance between elaborate and simple.
4. How did you learn to make this food? What is your food background?
I have been cooking at home since I was fourteen, as my mother did not cook regularly. On the other hand, I was constantly surrounded by grandmothers and aunts who cooked divinely and passionately, and encouraged me to learn their recipes and secrets. Furthermore, in my family, the appreciation of good cuisine has been a trademark ever since I can remember. I consider myself a self-taught cook although I have taken non-professional courses in Mexico, Italy and France.
5. Are you vegetarian or vegan? If you are, what were your motivations to become vegetarian or vegan? If not, do you find it challenging to create a vegetarian or vegan menu?
Personally, I am neither vegetarian nor vegan. However, my cooking philosophy is definitely vegetable-centered so I am used to adapting dishes to a vegetarian or vegan diet, as well as other diets like wheat-free or gluten-free.
6. Where are your favorite places to eat in Rome?
You mean besides The Beehive? For traditional Roman food, Da Marcello in San Lorenzo; fun, popular osterie in the Garbatella district like Grottino der Traslocatore, Er Moschino or Tanto pe’ Mangià. In the Testaccio district always reliable and a bit more trendy: Da Fedele or Osteria degli Amici, or Da Domenico in San Giovanni; at a higher budget and with a creative twist, Primo al Pigneto, or Rivadestra in Trastevere; pizza: anywhere but Dar Poeta. Also, 99% of the places selling pizza al taglio, supplì and arancini are delicious!
You will find Paola and her delicious, homemade and authentic Latin American food every Sunday evening in our cafe.
Dinner is served from 7:00-9:30pm and the cost is €8 for a mixed plate and €10 with dessert. Wine & beer are sold at €2/glass. Menus are posted on the same day on our Facebook page as well as any notifications if there is a cancellation of dinner that evening as has sometimes happened because of illness or time away so it’s always a good idea to check there before heading over. Reservations aren’t necessary, but do note that only a finite amount of food is prepared so it’s best to come earlier than later – we also have to be strict about wrapping things up early in order not to be disruptive to our room guests.