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Meet Tara Punzone of Pura Vita in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara Punzone.

Tara, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am an Italian American from New York, raised on very traditional Southern Italian cuisine. Because of my deep love for animals, at the age of 10, I became vegetarian. I continued to educate myself and became fully vegan by the time I was 12 years old. My family was very supportive of my decisions and encouraged me to spend time in the kitchen, cooking alongside them.

My passion for cooking began at that time. At the age of 12, I told my father I would open a vegan Italian restaurant one day! I worked my way up through many NYC vegan restaurants before moving to LA. While in LA, I spent five years as the Culinary Director for a multi-location vegan restaurant and learned a lot about the business end of restaurants. Finally, I was ready to make my childhood dream a reality! In September 2018, I opened the first 100% Plant-based Italian Restaurant and Wine bar in the USA!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been an amazing ride so far! Of course, there have been struggles as a female chef in this industry, but I am strong. When I think back to mistakes that were made, I am confident that they happened for important reasons and I know I have learned from them. I would not change a thing!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Pura Vita is the first 100% Plant-based Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar in the country. We are a female owned and operated business and I am extremely proud of that. We make everything in house, fresh everyday, using organic, plant-based ingredients. Our cuisine is clean and fresh, never taken out of a package or made in a lab. Our entire menu, including our extensive wine list, is 100% vegan and sustainable and ethically sourced. All of our dishes represent the cuisine of Southern Italy. This is the food I was raised on, only eliminating harm to animals, our health and environment. Our recipes are purely made with love.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was very strong-minded, annoyingly vegan, and otherwise, obsessed with music. I was a smart kid with an older mentality than other kids my age. I knew what I wanted and never gave in to bullying.

I had (and still have) an amazingly loving and supportive family. My family and I spent a lot of time traveling. Traveling has always been something that I believe is the most important form of education.

In many ways, I was always very lucky. In all ways, I have always been extremely grateful.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Linda Pianigiani, Shelly Strazis, RoxyRocksTV

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