Category: News

We Are Taking A Breather

Saludos, everyone!

From the very beginning, La Botanica has followed, carried out, and has remained in compliance with the constantly changing rules and regulations surrounding the COVID-19 response in Texas. However,  we are at another pivotal moment where we feel the safest course of action for our team and community at this moment is to close our doors for the time being.

We loved seeing all of your beautiful faces over the last couple of weeks, but now we must all do our part to ensure that we contain the spread of this virus so we can safely gather in-person again in the future. 

While we navigate the temporary closure of La B, we continue to encourage you to support is these various ways:

Sana Sana Vibes, 

Reb + La B team

A Sigh of Relief For La B

Today I found myself sobbing over the bowl of pasta I made for Amanda, my partner/gf, and me for lunch.  I had just read an email from my insurance agent and told Amanda about the news. La Botanica finally caught a break from the harsh and crashing waves of stress brought on by this relentless pandemic. I started to sob. 

Not tears of sadness but of relief. Although I appreciated her comforting me, I told her I was ok and to just let me continue crying because I knew that I had a lot of pressure to release. It was the first time I sobbed over all of this, and it felt good. I hadn’t realized how much pressure and weight I was carrying until the seal of tears was broken. I didn’t realize I was tirelessly treading water, still so far from the shore of safety. 

The email contained the first good news I had received about La Botanica since mid-March when COVID-19 turned this city and the USA upside down. 70% of small businesses in this country operate with a two-week budget, most of us–and by “us” I am referring to the other small business owners I know in this town– who don’t have a large reserve to dip into if shit hits the fan. We aren’t trust fund babies and we don’t come from generational wealth. Actually that’s what we are trying to do, create jobs and avenues of income and build something we can live off of and pass those along to future generations. 

Running a restaurant as a QWOC (queer women of color) already comes with a long list of uphill battles and learning to stay on your toes. So when the state and city governments started to make changes to how businesses could operate, I felt like I was asked to make a hard and unexpected pivot.   Don’t get me wrong, I am a dancer so for me pivoting is fun and an essential part of dance, but I am also human so it can be exhausting especially when asked to do it continuously. Over the past couple of weeks, I keep thinking to myself, “We aren’t just gonna need money to keep our businesses going. We are also gonna need funds to pay for a therapist.”  What we are going through is definitely going to result in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). 

I think it’s important to emphasize when I refer to small businesses, I am not talking about the government’s version of “small.” According to the government, if you have 499 employees you are small. La Botanica currently has 6 employees so I guess you can say we are a micro business by the government’s criteria. Yet that doesn’t matter. I have to apply for the same funds that businesses whose CFO’s are filling out the applications while the owners are at their lake houses staying safe and far away from the public. I, on the other hand, don’t have the privilege and am ethically bound to working alongside the workers of La B throughout this pandemic.

The good news doesn’t mean we’ve made it to shore, but it served as a quick trip up for air, and it was definitely what I needed to keep swimming.


La Botanica COVID-19 Response

Dear La Botanica friends & family,

The world seems to be changing fast and we are doing our best to change with it.  We understand that everyone is currently facing their own set of challenges due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic – but if you have the means to do so – La Botanica could use your help to keep our staff and space operating as we move through this time together. 

Here are several ways you can support:

  1. Continue to order from us. We are still operating and filling online and call-in orders that are ready for curbside pickup.  
  2. Order a gift card for yourself, or someone else. This can be used the same day or on a future date.
  3. Follow us on all social media platforms and share our posts.

We continue to maintain a high level of strict sanitation protocols.  We are following all current CDC guidelines and will not cease to implement these precautions as we continue to service the community.

We have always worked hard to make La Botanica a safer space for everyone.  We have always believed and practiced that when you protect and nurture the most vulnerable beings we all thrive.   We cannot imagine a world where La B doesn’t exist. So we call on you, our familia, and ourselves to unite and take care of each other. Many of us will be facing pressure and changes as a result of this pandemic, so take care of yourself, check in with your friends & family, and support however you can. 

We humbly thank you and send everyone our sincerest Sana-Sana-vibes.

 – Rebel and the La Botanica team


In a town with so many shades, backgrounds, ancestors from near & far; we have for years had no choice but to keep SA real.  Now that we are being inundated with outsiders who don’t know & even worse don’t care to know or respect the history & story of our beloved town it is up to us to keep it real.

How do we do that?  Keep being you!

We know many badasses out there who for years have been doing great work. We have watched each other, supported and even pushed each other out of the barriers that could have kept us down. Pero, we said – nah I am gonna do it anyway.  We say to our elders – keep teaching us and when it is time lift us up, don’t keep us below you. We say to the younger generations – keep challenging the norms, listen to your inner voice & be brave! To our peers we say – thank you for the constant inspiration, having our backs & calling us out & holding us accountable.  San Anto has been & always will be a fertile ground for revolution/evolution!

We are honored to be included in the award-winning film An Urban Revolution by Laura Varela (5 min.) It features many movers and shakers in our community including Rebel Mariposa and Danny Constante from La Botanica. This film won the award for Best Director at the San Antonio Film Festival 2015 City on the Rise Category.

Una Vista Adentro de La Botanica: Chefs Analizan La Indentidad, La Cultura y La Comida- Spanish Translation

*Actualizado; artículo originalmente escrito en junio del 2015: estamos llegando al primer año de aniversario de haber abierto nuestras puertas a pesar de que Arabella Daniels y Beto Rincon se hayan retirado a causa de querer  obtener otras carreras y otras metas. Queremos de cualquier manera reconocer la gran contribución que ofrecieron para hacer realidad nuestro sueño de “La Botanica” especialmente a “La Sugarbomb” Arabella Daniels. Ojala que sus caminos siempre estén llenos de luz y con sus pancitas siempre llenas.


Maribel Hermosillo photo by Mari Hernandez

Written by Maribel Valdez Hermosillo

Translated by Jake Lefker

Imagine si alguien logró combinar los poderes de curación de vegetales frescas y locales con la experiencia de Tejanxs con una pasión profunda para el sabor fresco. Pues, eso es exactamente lo que representa La Botanica, un Restaurante Vegano que abrió sus puertas en junio en la calle N. St. Mary’s. La gente ya esta hablando de La Botanica por todas las razones correctas.

Rebeca Lopez de Rebel Eats lleva su pasión carismática y vibrante por la comida vegana saludable y creativa a la comunidad con la ayuda de sus co-conspiradores culinarios: Chef Arabella Parlati Daniels y Chef Jose Alberto “Beto” Rincon. Aunque varían sus antecedentes y experiencias coloridos, es obvio que este trío tiene una química desarrollada por el amor que comparten por la justicia social, la música tradicional veracruzana llamada Son Jarocho, el desarrollo comunitario y, por supuesto, la comida.

Arabella Parlati Daniels servirá como Chef de La Botanica. Una mujer queer del sur de Louisiana, ella trabajó 10 años en el sur de Mississippi y ahora lleva 5 años en Tejas. Recibió su licenciatura en Español y Derechos Humanos de University of Southern Mississippi. Ella es una educadora y organizadora comunitaria para los derechos de inmigrantes y trabajadores agrícolas. Además, Arabella dirige Son Semillas, un programa en el Santo Anto Cultural Arts en el cual enseña el arte de Son Jarocho a la juventud del lado occidental de San Antonio.Jose Alberto “Beto” Rincon es un tejan@ de Seguin, Tejas. Recibió su licenciatura en Psicología de Texas Lutheran University e hizo dos concentraciones en Español y Geografía. En Texas Lutheran University, él era el presidente de la Asociación de estudiantes mexicanos-americanos (Mexican-American Student Association). Él fue el aprendiz de Seguin LULAC Community Garden dónde continuó sus esfuerzos como organizador comunitario de justicia de comida.

Beto y Arabella serán instrumentales en el desarrollo del jardín en La Botanica con el cual quieren integrar la participación de estudiantes de bachillerato.

La comunidad de San Antonio y visitantes afortunados tendrán la oportunidad de gozar de un menú creado meticulosamente para reflejar la diversidad del trío. El trío elevará platos favoritos locales mientras demuestran que un estilo de vida basado en las plantas puede curar nuestras comunidades sin faltar el factor “mmm.”

Las creaciones resplandecientes de este trío espectacular vienen de inspiración de New Mexico, el sur de Mexico, Tejas, y Louisiana. Seguramente, el menú reflejará su amor por las influencias de la costa de golfo, San Antonio y el uno al otro.

Tuve la oportunidad de charlar con los Chefs de La Botanica sobre cómo sus identidades y experiencias cambiarán la manera en la que se ve y se prepara la comida vegana en San Antonio.

Maribel Valdez Hermosillo: ¿Cuándo se dio cuenta de que querría ser un chef?


Arabella Daniels photo by Mari Hernandez

 Arabella Parlati Daniels: De hecho, no pasó así. Ando tratando de entender eso todavía. Me siento mucho mas cómoda con el titulo de “Cocinadora” porque eso es lo que soy y así es cómo me entrené, como cocinera en casa. Siempre he querido a la comida. Mi mamá me burla que yo hacía sonidos de extasía cuando me amamantaba cuando era bebe. Desde el momento que salí del útero, yo era un bebe gordo. Y no creo que mi amor o pasión por la comida haya parado en ningún momento. El hecho que me crecí en el sur de Louisiana con acceso a una de las mejores tradiciones culinarias del mundo fue un derecho de nacer y ha intensificado mi amor por la comida.

Jose Alberto “Beto” Rincon: Mejor dicho, en diferentes etapas de mi vida, me atraía a la preparación de comida. Me dijeron en mi primer trabajo que iba a lavar platos pero el primer día me informaron que yo iba comenzar a entrenarme en la cocina. Nunca lavé ni un plato en los primeros dos años pero si me convertí en un cocinero. Con el tiempo, me promovieron al gerente de los bufetes de fin de semana. Durante mi niñez, me enamoré con la comida hecha en casa ya que mi ‘buelita era una cocinera que compartía todos sus recetas con sus hijos y nietos. Mi ‘buelita tendía a un jardín en su casa así que ella me expuso a la importancia de la jardinería desde el principio. El ambiente de mi niñez me cultivó la pasión por la cocina.

Maribel: ¿Cómo se influye su identidad de organizador comunitario y activista a la manera que Ud. ve a la comida?

Arabella: Primero que nada, pasar los últimos 10 años organizando sobre cuestiones de inmigración y trabajadores agrícolas ha impactado mucho a mi perspectiva de la comida en general. Cuando estaba en la universidad en Mississippi, yo trabajaba en una planta de procesado de pollo como supervisora de seguridad. Caminaba por la planta, buscando peligros de seguridad. Esto quiere decir que yo ayudaba a los empleados de línea que se hirieron, usualmente una variación de amputación. Observé un hombre con el brazo completamente rasgado del hombro porque se lo agarró en una parte del equipamiento. Él no tenía papeles así que la compañía lo despidió. Lo dejaron discapacitado, desempleado, y con un montón de gastos médicos. Tales experiencias me han hecho sentir muy frustrada. Reconocer la experiencia de trabajadores agrícolas es un aspecto importante en una vida basada en las plantas.

Beto: La comida y la comunidad forman parte de mi identidad como organizador comunitario y activista. Yo como, duermo, sueño de día y sueño de noche las estrategias por las cuales podemos involucrar más gente con sus sistemas de comida: el sistema global de comida, el sistema de comida en los Estados Unidos, y el sistema local de comida de nuestras comunidades respectivas. Si podemos involucrar mas personas en el concepto de un sistema de comida, continuaremos a ver iniciativas en los esfuerzos de mejorar tales sistemas en los cuales dependemos para alimentarnos y alimentar a nuestras familias.

Maribel: En los próximos 10 años, ¿cómo ve Ud. la trayectoria de la revolución de comida en San Antonio? ¿Cómo ayudará su involucramiento en La Botanica con el desarrollo constante de esta cultura?

Arabella: ¿Qué es una revolución de comida y cómo puedo evitarla? Promuevo más las abuelitas en la cocina enseñándonos a nosotros, los jóvenes, cómo cocinar. No estoy impresionada con la gente joven (incluyendo a yo misma) y lo que traemos a la mesa. Me interesa mucho más aprender de la gente, especialmente mujeres de color, las cuales llevan siglos construyendo las tradiciones de comida en San Antonio y en este país y son ellas las que no reciben el crédito que merecen por ayudarnos llegar dónde estamos en cuanto a la gastronomía. La cosa que me emociona más de La Botanica es trabajar en una cocina manejada mayormente por mujeres. Creo que la industria de comida es algo bien macho y racista en varias maneras. Anticipo trabajar en un espacio que desafía tales narrativas. No podría encontrar un equipo de trabajo más maravilloso que hace tanto por la comunidad. Danny Delgado (co-dueño y creador de La Botanica) y Rebeca Lopez no son solamente organizadores comunitarios importantes, sino también siempre ofrecen sus habilidades y espacios a otras personas en San Antonio que también trabajan por la comunidad. Estoy orgullosa de trabajar en un restaurante que considera que ayudar a los demás e invertir en su comunidad son de igual importancia que el éxito financiero.

Maribel: ¿Qué experiencia traerá Ud. a la cocina de La Botanica?

Arabella: Empecé a cocinar cuando yo tenía 8 años. Mi papá prefería quedarse afuera leyendo el periódico y fumando cigarrillos que pasar tiempo conmigo. De hecho, pensó que la mejor manera de utilizarme era mandarme a cocinar la cena mientras él hacía eso. En esa entonces, me enojaba, pero ahora me doy cuenta de que él me cultivó la pasión por la comida. Creo que tengo una ventaja que la mayoría de los demás no tiene, la cual es crecer en una cocina. Se puede aprender cómo cocinar un roux bueno en una clase de cocina, pero se aprende cocinar un roux espectacular cuando toca hacerlo por muchos años. Nunca he tomado una clase de cocina en mi vida pero me he crecido cocinando cerca a buena comida y buenos chefs cocineros. Esa forma de experiencia se puede dar una intuición sobre la comida la cual no se puede enseñar en una sala de clase.

Beto: Mis años de experiencia como cocinero ayudarán a replicar los platos que desarrollarán mayormente Arabella y Rebel. La Botanica crecerá como una joya en la comunidad de N. St. Mary’s y la de San Antonio en general a través de la pasión que tengo por aprender más sobre la cultivación de mi propia comida y las maneras en las que otras personas y hasta restaurantes pueden cultivar su propia cosecha para su consumo.

Maribel: ¿A qué debe anticipar San Antonio este verano cuando abre La Botanica?

Arabella: Comida bien pinche sabroso. El propósito de cocinar es alimentar a la gente y hacer que se sienta bien. Ni siquiera pienso yo en dar de comer a la gente algo que no es rico y que no le hará sentir aún más feliz que sintió al entrar.

Beto: Un cambio único a la comida vegana en San Antonio ya que nos enfocaremos en sabores, ingredientes y recetas inspirados regionalmente y cultivados localmente.

Maribel: ¿Qué le atrae en cuanto a los poderes de curación de la comida vegana?

Arabella: Hace poco, tuve el privilegio de vivir y trabajar por 7 meses en la región veracruzana de Tuxtlas en México. Trabajé específicamente con un grupo de muchachas jóvenes con el propósito de conservar comidas tradicionales y plantas medicinales de la región. Entrevistábamos a muchos ancianos y una de las cosas que me golpeó era que la mayoría de las dietas indígenas tradicionales eran dietas basadas en las plantas: frijoles negros cocinados con pedazos de chayote, y un caldo espesado con hierbas y masa. Luego, miraba yo a los viejitos (la mayoría tenían más de 90 años), y no tenían muchas de las complicaciones medicas que tenían sus hijos que comían comidas procesadas, sodas y más carnes. Eso me impactó mucho. Me provocó la curiosidad de volver a los Estados Unidos e investigar platos tradicionales basados en las plantas los cuales tal vez hayamos perdido u olvidado.

Beto: Una cosa que definitivamente me atrae en cuanto a los poderes de curación de la comida vegana es que es un tratamiento alternativo para cosas como el cáncer y por eso amo y respeto el poder verdadero de la comida. Es que puede ser absolutamente divina y si escogemos las comidas correctas, entonces realmente tiene poderes de curación. Con los años he sido más escéptico con los efectos de largo plazo de la medicina convencional así que los poderes de curación de la comida son muy importantes para mí.

Maribel: El equipo de cocina en La Botanica consistirá del equipo de sueño: Rebeca Lopez, Beto Rincon y Arabella Parlati Daniels. ¿Cómo se conocieron? ¿Cómo es su química? ¿Cómo ayudará su química a transformar la comida vegana ofrecida en San Antonio?

Arabella: Todos nos conocimos a través de Son Jarocho, y es chistoso. Nuestra química es genial y no puedo enfatizar la cantidad de emoción que tengo por trabajar con Beto y Rebeca, los cuales son mis amigos y excelentes seres humanos en general. Rebeca es una de las personas más positivas que uno podría querer que sea parte de su vida. Ella es muy alentadora y cariñosa y balancea bien mi personalidad, la cual a veces es excesivamente directa e intensa. Beto también, es tan buen hombre que a uno le toca sonreír cuando esta en su presencia. Creo que entendemos y respetamos de dónde viene cada persona en cuanto a nuestras perspectivas de la comida y los aspectos de su cultivación y consumo. Estoy emocionada para trabajar con alguien que entiende la importancia del labor, la agricultura y la estacionalidad en cuanto la comida que cocinaremos en La Botanica. Así que, básicamente, un equipo de sueño es correcto.

Beto: Arabella y yo nos conocimos a través de nuestro circulo mutual de amigos, músicos, activistas, educadores, y organizadores comunitarios en Austin, hace unos 5 años ¿más o menos? Aun en esa entonces, hablábamos de comida y compartíamos proyectos chéveres de comida que vimos. Rebel (Rebeca) y yo por fin nos conocimos el año pasado después de haber escuchado mucho del otro. Ella sabía que yo estaba estudiando comida académicamente y que estaba bien involucrado en la jardinería comunitaria. Yo vi su marca y las fotos de sus eventos que tiró bajo su negocio de servicio de comidas veganas, Rebel Eats. Entre nosotros tres, hay muchas ideas. Lo chévere de esta colaboración es que todos nosotros estamos emocionados para aprender de los dos otros miembros. Todos estamos aquí para ayudarle a Rebel (Rebeca) elevar el trabajo que ha hecho por años. Arabella y yo estamos increíblemente emocionados para elevar nuestras habilidades por trabajar en el jardín de La Botanica, hablando de maneras para abrir el jardín a la comunidad y desarrollando nuestro talento culinario mediante el proceso creativo. Afortunadamente, los tres compartimos un compromiso a la comunidad, a la salud y a la gente. Esta característica compartida nos dejará guiar La Botanica hacia nuevos niveles como nuevo restaurante vegano en San Antonio.

A Glimpse Inside La Botanica: Chefs Discuss Identity, Culture, & Food- English Translation

* UPDATE TO article originally written June 2015: We are coming up on our one year anniversary of opening our doors and although both Arabella Daniels and Beto Rincon have since moved on to pursue other career goals we want to acknowledge the contribution they put forth to make La Botanica a dream come true; especially La Sugarbomb: Arabella Daniels. May your path always be bright and your bellies always full.


Photo by Mari Hernandez. From left to right: Laura Varela, Rebel Mariposa, Maribel Hermosillo, Michael Witzel, Arabella Daniels, Beto Rincon

Written by Maribel Valdez Hermosillo

Imagine combining the delicious healing powers of fresh locally produced vegetables with the expertise of Tejanxs who have a serious passion for fresh flavor. The result is La Botanica, a Vegan Restaurant that opened on the N. St. Mary’s strip in mid-June. La Botanica has already created a buzz in San Antonio for all of the right reasons.

Rebeca Lopez of Rebel Eats is bringing her charismatic and fiery passion for healthy and innovative Vegan fare to the community with the help of her culinary co-conspirators: Sous Chef Arabella Parlati Daniels and Chef Jose Alberto “Beto” Rincon. While their colorful backgrounds are different, it is obvious that this trio has a unique chemistry developed by their shared love of social justice, traditional music from Vera Cruz, Mexico known as Son Jarocho, community building, and of course, food.


Arabella Daniels – photo by Mari Hernandez

Arabella Parlati Daniels will serve as the Sous Chef of La Botanica. She is a queer Southern woman from South Louisiana. She spent 10 years in South Mississippi and has lived in Texas for the last 5 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Human Rights from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is an educator and a community organizer for immigrant and farmworker’s rights. In addition, Arabella runs a program at San Anto Cultural Arts called Son Semillas, where she teaches the art of Son Jarocho to youth on the West side of San Antonio.

Jose Alberto “Beto” Rincon is a Tejan@ from Seguin, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas Lutheran University. While at Texas Lutheran University, he minored in Spanish and Geography. At Texas Lutheran University, Beto was the president of the Mexican-American Student Association. He became an apprentice for the Seguin LULAC Community Garden where he continued his work as a community organizer around food justice.

Beto and Arabella will be instrumental in developing the garden at La Botanica where the trio hopes to involve local high school students.

The San Antonio community and lucky visitors will get to partake of a menu that has been carefully crafted to reflect the diversity of the trio. The trio will elevate hometown favorites while proving that a plant-based lifestyle can heal our communities without missing the “mmm” factor.

This dream team’s resplendent Vegan creations draw inspiration from New Mexico, Southern Mexico, Tejas, and Louisiana. The menu reflects their love of the gulf coast regional influences, San Antonio and each other.

I had the opportunity to chat with the Chefs of La Botanica about their thoughts on how their identity and experiences will change the way Vegan food is perceived and prepared in San Antonio.

Maribel Valdez Hermosillo: When did you know that you wanted to become a Chef?

Arabella Parlati Daniels: I didn’t. I am still figuring it out. I feel a lot more comfortable with the title “Cook” because that is what I am and that is the way I was trained, as a home cook. I have always loved food. My mom jokes that I used to make sounds of ecstasy when I was breastfed as a baby. I was basically a fat kid from the time I left the womb. I don’t think my love or passion for food has ever stopped. Growing up in South Louisiana and having access to some of the best food in the world was a birth right that only intensified my love of food.

Jose Alberto “Beto” Rincon: It’s more like, at different points of my life, preparing food was attractive to me. My first job was supposed to be a dishwasher at a local restaurant but once I arrived on my first day, they told me I would start training in the kitchen. I never once washed dishes in the first 2 years but I did become a line cook. Eventually, I was promoted to manager of weekend buffets. Growing up, I had already grown to love home cooking because my ‘buelita was an amazing cook who shared all of her recipes with her children and grandchildren. My ‘buelita took care of a garden in her home therefore I was exposed to the importance of gardening at a young age. The writing was on the wall at an early age for me to love cooking.

Maribel: How does your identity as a community organizer and activist shape the way that you see food?

Arabella: First and foremost, spending the last 10 years organizing around immigration and farmworker issues has really impacted the way I feel about food in general. When I was in college in Mississippi, I worked at one of the local chicken processing plants as a safety supervisor. I walked around and observed for safety hazards in the plant. This meant that I had to deal with line workers who would get injured on the job, usually some kind of amputation. I witnessed a guy who had his entire arm ripped out of his shoulder because it was caught in a piece of equipment. He was undocumented so the company just fired him. They left him differently-abled, unemployed, and with a pile of medical expenses. Experiences like these have made me feel really frustrated. Acknowledging the experience of farmworkers is an important aspect of living a plant-based lifestyle.

Beto: Food and community are central to my identity as a community organizer and activist. I eat, sleep, day dream, and night dream about ways in which we can engage more people with their food systems: the global food system, the food system in the United States, and the local food system of our respective communities. If we can get more people to engage with the food system as an idea, then wonderful initiatives are bound to continue in the efforts to improve those systems which we all rely on to feed ourselves and our families.

Maribel: What is your vision of the foodie revolution in San Antonio in the next 10 years? How will your involvement in La Botanica shape the ever-evolving culture?

Arabella: What is a foodie revolution and how can I avoid it? I am for more grandmas in the kitchen showing us young folks how to do it. I am not that impressed with people my age (including myself) and what they have to bring to the table. I am much more interested in hearing from people, especially women of color, who have been holding down the food traditions in San Antonio and in this country for centuries, and who seem to have yet get the credit they deserve for helping us be where we are gastronomically speaking. The thing that excites me the most about La Botanica is working in a kitchen run mostly by women. I think the food industry is super macho and racist in a lot of ways. I am looking forward to working in a space that challenges those narratives. I couldn’t ask to work with a more wonderful group of people that do so much for the community. Danny Delgado (Part Owner and Creator of La Botanica) and Rebeca Lopez are not only important community organizers but they also constantly lend their talents and spaces to other folks in San Anto that do community work as well. I feel proud to work at a restaurant that believes giving back and investing in its community is just as important as making it financially successful.

Maribel: What expertise are you going to bring to the kitchen of La Botanica?

Arabella: I have been cooking since I was 8 years old. My dad preferred to spend our quality time sitting outside reading the paper and smoking cigarettes. Naturally, he thought the best way to put me to use was to have me make supper while he did that. At the time, I was upset about it, but now I realize he helped me cultivate a love for food. I feel that I have an advantage that most folks don’t have, which is growing up in a kitchen. You can learn to make a good roux by taking a cooking class, but you learn how to make a GREAT roux when you have to do it over and over again for years. I have never taken a cooking class in my life but I have grown up cooking around great food and cooks. That kind of experience can really give you an intuition about food that I am not sure can be taught in a classroom.

Beto: My years of experience as a line cook will help replicate the dishes that Arabella and Rebel will largely be developing. La Botanica will grow into a true gem in the N. St. Mary’s community and San Antonio at large because of my passion for learning more about growing my own food and the ways in which other people and even restaurants can produce their own crops for consumption.

Maribel: What does San Antonio have to look forward to when La Botanica opens in the summer?

Arabella: Really fucking good food. The purpose of cooking is to feed people and to make them feel good. I REFUSE to feed people something that isn’t good and that won’t make them feel happier than they did before they came in.

Beto: A unique twist to Vegan fare in San Antonio in that we will be focusing largely on regionally inspired, locally grown flavors, ingredients, and recipes.

Maribel: What appeals to you about the healing powers of Vegan cuisine?

Arabella: Recently, I had the privilege of spending 7 months living and working in the Tuxtlas region of Veracruz, Mexico, specifically working with a group of young girls focused on preserving traditional foods and medicinal plants of the region. We would go around and interview a lot of elders and one of the things that struck me was how the vast majority of the traditional Indigenous diet was plant-based: frijoles negros cooked with chunks of chayote, and a broth thickened with herbs and masa. And then I was looking at the viejitos (most of whom were around 90+ years old), and they didn’t have a lot of the health problems their kids did who ate processed foods, sodas, and more meats. That left a huge impact on me. It made me curious to come back to the United States and investigate traditional plant-based dishes that we may have lost or have forgotten.

Beto: One thing that definitely appeals to me about the healing powers of Vegan cuisine is that it is an alternative treatment to such things as cancer which makes me love and respects the true power of food. Not only can it be absolutely divine but if we choose the right foods, it truly does have healing powers. With age, I have grown largely skeptical of the long term effects of conventional medicine so the healing properties of food are very important to me.

Maribel: The kitchen crew at La Botanica will consist of the dream team: Rebeca Lopez, Beto Rincon, and Arabella Parlati Daniels. How did you all meet? What is your chemistry like? How will this chemistry help transform Vegan cuisine that is typically offered in San Antonio?

Arabella: We all met through Son Jarocho, which is hilarious. Our chemistry is great and I really can’t emphasize how excited I am to be working with Beto and Rebeca, both of whom are my friends and excellent human beings in general. Rebeca is one of the most positive people you could ever want to have in your life. She is so encouraging and warm and is a good balance for my sometimes overly-direct and intense personality. Beto too, he’s such a great guy you can’t help but smile when you hang out with him. I feel like we understand and respect where each other is coming from in relation to how we feel about food and the production and consumption aspects of it. I’m excited to work with somebody who understands the importance of labor, farming, and seasonality in regards to the food we’ll be making at La Botanica. So yeah, basically, dream team is right.

Beto: Arabella and I met through our mutual circle of friends, musicians, activists, educators, and community organizers in Austin maybe 5 or so years ago? Even back then, we were often talking about food and sharing cool food projects we were coming across collectively. Rebel (Rebeca) and I finally met this past year after we both heard a great deal about each other. She knew that I was studying food academically and was really involved in community gardening. I had seen her brand and photos from events that she threw under her pop-up Vegan catering business, Rebel Eats. Between the three of us, there are a lot of ideas. What is cool about this partnership is that we are all excited to learn new things from each other. We are all here to help Rebel (Rebeca) elevate the work she’s been doing for many years now. Arabella and I are both incredibly excited to elevate our skill sets by working on the garden at La Botanica, discussing ways to open the garden to the community and developing our culinary game through the creative process. Fortunately, all three of us share a commitment to community, health, and gente. This commonality will allow us to lead La Botanica to new heights as a new vegan restaurant in San Antonio.

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