Chef Fab explains how she went from boutique to burgers with Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat
As an entrepreneur Laricia Chandler Baker also known as Chef Fab has proven herself to be extremely resourceful and driven. The South-Side Chicago native demonstrated her wherewithal with her first venture in 2012 when she opened her boutique Epitome. The boutique exposed her to many high profile clients and her work has been featured on television shows like Love and Hip Hop New York and Black Ink Chicago. Her passion is what catapulted her work into elite spaces.
Laricia (Chef Fab) became a vegetarian about four years ago after learning what meat does to the human body. She took some advice from her son and immediately changed her life. Her frustration grew when looking for healthy choices so she decided to cook her own food. After sharing her dishes with family members and friends she developed enough of a buzz around her dishes that prompted her to create “Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat”.
The savory and decadent choices on the menu honor Chicago’ amazing food history and provide a healthy alternative for those who are looking to change the way they eat. In a matter of a year Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat has flourished and has become a go to location in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
We spoke with Chef Fab about her entrepreneurial spirit, some of her most popular dishes and why her establishment is different.
1) Tell us about yourself, what did you do before you started Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat?
I am a mother, wife, and serial entrepreneur. I love working for myself even though it can have it’s challenges. Before CBINM, I opened Epitome Boutique back in 2012 and now it’s an e-commerce store. Through the boutique, we styled some of your favorite people, celebrities. reality stars, socialites, the person who loved fashion. Some of our collections have been seen on hit reality shows like Love & Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, along with Chicago Influencers and music artist.
2) Why did you open your business, Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat?
By already being an entrepreneur at heart, I decided to open CBINM. When I became a vegetarian and I really couldn’t find many fun, delicious, comfort food options for Vegans and Vegetarians. I began making several fun, delicious recipes and knew I needed to share them with the world. My friends and family really liked the dishes and I taught myself how to make some of my favorite Chicago staples like the pizza puff and hot dogs but all vegan of course.
3) How is your restaurant different from other vegan eateries?
What makes us different is we serve FUN, comfort, and non-traditional vegan/ vegetarian food that you would miss from your favorite Chicago restaurants. We make a pizza puff, a Chicago Classic. Chitown vegan chik’in legs with mild sauce, a Chicago Style Hot Dog, Hoagie, and more to give you what you’ve been missing! We don’t just serve food for vegans and vegetarians, our restaurant is also visited by many Flexitarian’s frequently because the dishes are just good as if you were eating meat.
4) What are some of the most popular dishes on the menu?
Some of our top sellers are Whobetta Burger with the option to add vegan bacon. Our second-best seller is we Can’t Believe It’s A Pizza Puff. Our Philly Cheesesteak and our newest edition Philly Cheese Steak EggLess Rolls are also a big hit with customers. People love these dishes so much they literally come back every day. It makes me feel good to see people enjoy what I created. Oh, our spaghetti is also very popular when we have it on the menu we can’t keep it. Our milkshakes sell out every day too.
5) Are you a vegetarian? What made you decide to become one?
Yes, I am a vegetarian. I became a vegetarian after watching a popular Netflix documentary called “What The Health” a few years ago. Watching the movie it inspired me to become better informed on what I was putting into my body. Learning more about how they process meat I chose to become vegetarian.
6) What’s next for CBINM and Chef Fab?
What’s next for CBINM is opening chains all over the world! The world deserves a taste of all of these amazing, comfort, vegan dishes. People all over the world love Chicago cuisine. We also plan to package some of our popular items to sell at a grocery store near you. Next for me, I am launching virtual vegan/ vegetarian cooking classes to assist people with making their own fun dishes at home. Follow us on social media to see when we start. I want to help people eat better, inspire others to go after their dreams!
Photo credit: Marty Levin, Marty Levin Photography, Inc