Creative Loafing: Where were you trained?
Eltz: I've been cooking professionally since I was 20. I studied under two executive chefs. One was the chef at the Governor's Mansion. I've just within the last two years studied vegetarian cooking, which is a totally different thing.
How did you get hooked up with Sevananda?
Steve Cooke is the general manager [at Sevananda] -- he had been running the kitchen for several years; he was the chef here. He moved into the general manager position. It's a small community here, so I heard through the grapevine that there was a vacancy in the kitchen, so I came over and applied.
What kind of food is available?
We specialize in strictly vegetarian. We have no animal products in the store. We have soups and salads and sandwiches and ethnic food. My specialty is curries. There are a variety of things produced out of the deli side, and the bakery side is what sets us apart. Our bakery is 100 percent vegan, which means we have no eggs, no dairy and no honey. People come to our bakery department not only because they have issues with their diet: We also have some of the best cakes in the city. What makes us really special is that our staff has great taste. We don't have bland food here.
We have a 100 percent organic produce department and we've been serving this community -- which is member-owned -- for over 30 years. We were one of the first natural food stores in the area. And our store now is huge and beautiful and well stocked, and it's a great place to shop and a great place to work.
Lots of diverse people come into the store -- what does that mean for the kinds of foods you make?
We cater to the taste of the people who shop here. We have a large African-American [clientele], which goes from traditional Southern to Caribbean, so we try to put that influence in our food here. It's comfort food for them.
What would you be doing if not working in the food industry?
Well, actually, I have some things that I'm working on in my own personal life, and it still involves the food industry. I'm working on producing my own cooking videos. What I would like to be doing is taking this kind of cooking and education to the world and bring vegetarianism into a real genre of cooking that's acceptable and not just a side dish. A creative expression so that people are not afraid of it any longer, even if it's only one meal a day.
Sevananda Natural Foods Market, 467 Moreland Ave. 404-681-2831. www.sevananda.com.
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