Tags: creative director
I enjoy food. I really do. So it puzzles me when I hear about people not eating mean or eggs, or milk. But never say never. Because here is Dimitra, serving the most delicious dishes in town, all vegan. It’s amazing, I am telling you. It is amazing how a burger can still taste as good even with no meat in it. It is amazing how a cheesecake can make people go crazy over it, without any cheese. Can you imagine? Dimitra sure can. Here she is, Dimitra Shanahan, showing me around her restaurant and super amazing beer collection at ImproV.
Have you always been a vegan?
No, just the past seven years.
What made you become one?
I started out as a vegetarian. My cat, Peanut, got really sick few years back. We tried out 4 or 5 different vets, and they all told me my cat wouldn’t make it. I got depressed and sad for my cat and then I started thinking of what all animals go through and why do I love one animal and eat others. End of story, I found this great vet who cured my cat, but my worries and compassion for all animals never left me. I decided to become a vegetarian and after a while I became vegan. Peanut is now 16 years old!
So you are never tempted to try a cake that has butter and eggs?
No, not really. I love baking! butter can be easily replaced with coconut butter and eggs with flax seeds, bananas or silken tofu
And do you get along fine with non vegans?
Oh, yes totally. Most of my friends are not vegans and I still go out for dinner with them. You cannot become a vegan if you won’t make the connection. By yourself.
Is it hard to find the ingredients you use in your kitchen and your restaurant?
Not at all. We make a lot of stuff on our own, like cream cheese or feta cheese, almond milk, veggie and bean burgers, seitan… things like that.
What made you get involved into cooking in the first place?
Oh I have always loved cooking. When I became vegan I had to get even more involved in the kitchen to produce my vegan meals. Then came the blog, where I started sharing all my cooking adventures. It quickly became a big success and then I was invited to teach vegan cooking classes at New Guinea.
And then came the restaurant?
Pretty much. Yes. At first my husband and I thought we would just open a bar. But then it dawned on me that there are no vegan restaurants in Athens. There are some vegetarian places that serve vegan dishes, but strictly vegan is not an option. That’s when I jumped in with Volume 10.
So what is it that you serve here?
An alternative menu. Most people that come here are not vegan. Not even vegetarian. We have the classics turned vegan, like souvlaki, or pasta Bolognese, meatballs and burgers. And cheesecake!!! You have to try my cheesecake!
I am guessing vegan is a very healthy kitchen!
Basically it’s cholesterol free. At ImproV we are focused more on serving fun dishes that probably noone would ever think that could be made vegan instead of serving just healthy treats. But we don’t use sugar or margarine at all. Instead of dairy butter we use coconut butter and to sweeten our desserts we use agave nectar.
Which would be your favorite spices to use while cooking?
Cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, and black salt. And mixed dry herbs!
Where do you eat, when you are not cooking at home or here at Volume 10?
Many places. I love Avocado downtown and Rosebud serves amazing vegan food! I love Mexican cuisine and for Italian I love Pasta Macaroni in Argyroupoli.
Ok, let’s get back to what you’ve got going on here. So Volume 10 is actually 3 spaces. You have the vegan restaurant and the bar specializing in beers and also the event space. How come you focused on beer?
We wanted to do something different. Around here you get a lot of bars, but not many pubs and that was something worth taking advantage of. And also, we are big fans of beer. And you don’t find easily craft beers when you go out. Here we serve over 100 labels of craft beers! We support microbreweries that focus on quality instead of quantity. And our customers love this attitude.
And your event space?
Our event space is mostly for gigs. Bands come talk to us and book the space. We’ ve hosted quite a few really good shows during the past months. We also get requests from companies, who want to hold their corporate events in our space.
I have to ask, how do you see the dishes you serve here evolving in the future?
I want to focus on raw food. It’s a big thing lately and I want to try to serve some raw dishes at our restaurant. I have been thinking about Portobello burgers, raw hummus and zucchini spaghetti. We already have a raw dessert (cream cashew pie) and everyone loves it. We’ll see.
A few comments on the things pictured and said above:
Dimitra has some pretty amazing stories to share. Firstly, she met her husband at a Guns N’ Roses concert. In London. He flew over from the States. She came from Greece. It was love at first sight. / She also is the first bride to plan her whole wedding online. She didn’t even set foot on a store or bakery. Everything ordered online. / Her cheesecake has a reputation of its own. The night before our photo shoot, a guy walked in ImroV and bought 8 pieces of cheesecake to go. Some say it tastes better than the non vegan version. / Dimitra is very fond of cats. She has made lots of friends in the neighborhood and they come for food and love when the restaurant is open. / The Veggie Stir Fry is from a cookbook conducted by the Grateful Dead. / The cat starring in the photo shoot is called Pumpkin. / The pumpkins are from Dimitra’s mother’s garden.