Acclaimed local chef Deborah VanTrece opens new Latin soul restaurant in Cascade Heights
The restaurateur, author, CEO and founder of VanTrece Hospitality Group, chef Deborah VanTrece stands at the intersection of food and culture. She describes her cuisine as “modern global soul food.” Her restaurants include Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, Oreatha’s at the Point and the newly-opened Serenidad, a Latin soul cuisine restaurant in Cascade Heights. VanTrece joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about her ventures and the world atlas of delicious flavors they represent.
On the concept and cuisine of Oreatha’s at the Point:
“Oreatha’s is named after my mother. Her middle name was Oreatha,” VanTrece said. “I wanted a restaurant that paid homage to the moms from across the world. I got my start cooking from my mother and from other mothers, being in the kitchen with them. I think any chef, if they’re being honest for the most part, got their start from their mom and this was my way of giving back. So we are doing some global cuisine, but the focus is more on the comfort foods that our moms would make, with a little twist.”
“My mom loved pot pie, so we did a play on chicken pot pie — I used duck instead,” explained VanTrece. “One of our other big sellers is a tod mun pla. It’s a Thai-Indian dish, and it’s really something. It’s a fish patty, but instead of using a fish and deboning that and using it in a patty form, we actually took a whole fish, a whole catfish, did the same seasonings with fish sauce and tamarind and ginger, and we deep fry it and then we serve it with coconut grits and then a tamarind hot sauce and a curry coleslaw.”
Serenidad, a new eatery mixing up Caribbean and Latin flavors:
“I’ve spent a lot of time in South America, in Latin America, in the Caribbean, in Spain, in Mexico; and all of those countries are tied together, one way or another through history,” VanTrece said. “I love that cuisine, but I felt like it was not getting its due in some of the restaurants in the United States. We think Mexican food is just a taco, but when you go to those countries, your experiences are amazing. Some of the top restaurants in the world are in these countries. And I wanted to take the soul of those restaurants and bring it into Atlanta with my flair to it.”
“We have a paella, but instead of it being mixed with rice, it’s served on top of blue corn grits. We’re doing duck tamales with a pecan gremolata. So we’re having a lot of fun with some interesting flavors, and it’s so many different cuisines that we can choose from when we go under the umbrella of Latin food … seeing where we can put our soulful twist in and having fun with some mezcal and some tequila also.”
On choosing Cascade Heights for her latest culinary adventures:
“The Cascade Heights neighborhood, the southwest side of Atlanta, has long since been a source of community that has supported me and driven across the city no matter where I was at over the years to come to my restaurants. They are incredible people,” VanTrece attested. “It’s a historic area … but they have never had anything other than just traditional fast-food-type restaurants or chains in the area. There was an opportunity to bring my cuisine, bring a little bit of flair into that neighborhood and I jumped on it.”
“There are some historic restaurants, like the beautiful restaurant that serves traditional soul food, and we didn’t want to step on the toes of those legacy restaurants there so we set out to see what else was needed in that community, and by creating the two restaurants that I created, I was filling a void. So we could give them not just Mexican food but go into the Latin cuisine and take that a step above; and then also with Oreathea’s, be able to offer them some international cuisine in a very nice setting.”
Deborah VanTrece’s newest restaurant Serenidad is open now in Cascade Heights. More information is available at www.restaurantserenidad.com.