Meet Nina Paletta and Meghan Shaw: two women striving to make vegan food more accessible in the Detroit area. Under the moniker, Street Beet, the duo has been popping up regularly since May. While diverse in their offerings, they’re best known for their Taco Hell series—a vegan remix of the fast food staple, Taco Bell.
With lines around the door and a schedule that fits in up to three pop-ups a week—which is A LOT—their out of the gate success has given them the freedom to quit their day jobs and pursue food full time. What’s next? Something more permanent—”possibly a food truck.”
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We caught up with them to talk food, Detroit and a few things between.
CV Henriette: What’s a Street Beet?
Nina Paletta: The name Street Beet was inspired by an “only funny if you were there” scenario when I was traveling in Nicaragua with some friends, and we found a large, dirty carrot in the middle of the street. I later decided that Street Beet implied well enough that I’d be making plant-based street food. Street Carrot didn’t roll of the tongue as easily.
CVh: Why vegan?
Nina Paletta & Meghan Show: Many reasons.
- We are both vegan.
- Vegan food is hard to come by in Detroit.
- To show people that vegan food isn’t boring and isn’t just “grass”.
- To get rid of the negative stigma associated with the word “vegan”.
- We love animals and care about the environment.
- Veganizing recipes is a challenge and offers a lot of room for creativity. It’s really satisfying to take something you never thought.
could be vegan or is the furthest thing from it and actually getting it right.
CVh: Why Taco Bell?
NP & MS: It’s a guilty pleasure for both of us. One day we were out grocery shopping and drove past a Taco Bell. Meghan commented about how long the line was, and we joked about the idea of recreating their menu. The joke quickly became reality. Once we made the Facebook event page and started to see the attendee list grow, we knew we were on to something.
CVh: Where’d you learn to cook?
MS: When my parents separated my dad moved into an apartment—and let’s just say he isn’t big on cooking. This made me want to learn, so I would clip recipes out of magazines and various cookbooks, glue them into a binder and go for it. I’m sure most of what I made was pretty awful, and I’ve never been very good at following recipes, but he always pretended they were great. I’ve been interested in cooking and learning about food ever since.
NP: After a couple years of being vegetarian, I decided that I was sick of eating boring food and felt inspired to cook more creatively. Some learning was through trial and error, some through internet blogs and some elsewhere.
NP & MS: Chef crush?
CVh: Pop-up forever? What’s the dream?
NP & MS: Definitely not forever. We have a lot of different plans in mind for the future. In the meantime, we’re going to continue learning and growing through pop-ups while saving money for more ambitious projects.
CVh: Why Detroit?
NP & MS: We both grew up in Metro Detroit, and have spent a significant amount of time living and working in the city. We want to be a part of the positive growth Detroit is experiencing and help provide more options for people to eat plant-based.
CVh: What’s for breakfast?
NP & MS: Almost always a smoothie.
CVh: What’s the last emoji you texted?
NP & MS: Black heart, eyeroll.
CVh: What time do you wake up?
NP & MS: We have the most inconsistent schedules in the world.
CVh: Soda or pop?
NP & MS: SODA.
CVh: Most underrated seasoning?
NP & MS: Lol. Salt.
CVh: What’s the last book you’ve read?
NP: Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
CVh: Favorite vegetable?
NP: Beets, broccolini, raddichio.
CVh: Least favorite vegetable?
NP: ZUCCHINI and red peppers.
CVh: Suntan or sunburn?
MS: Neither; I hate the sun.
CVh: Sun sign?
MS: Somewhere in between a Taurus or Gemini.
CVh: Have you ever eaten meat?
NP & MS: Yes. We both grew up eating meat.
NP & MS: Nah. It’s just true.
CVh: Drunk or stoned?
NP & MS: Drunk.
CVh: Also inappropriate?
NP & MS: Whatever.
CVh: Name one thing you don’t fuck with.
NP & MS: Black bean burgers.
CVh: Saturday night. Dinner reservations anywhere in the world. Where?
NP & MS: Modern Love, Brooklyn.
CVh: Where’s the spot for live music in this town?
NP & MS: UFO Factory!
CVh: Where do vegans eat at 3am?
NP & MS: Nowhere. But maybe now White Castle.
CVh: Go-to restaurant?
NP & MS: Takoi. We aren’t sucking up. Really. We are there once a week.
CVh: Let’s take a daytrip. Where are we going? What are we wearing?
NP & MS: The woods, in sweatpants, drinking coffee, without cell phone service.
CVh: Favorite place you’ve never been?
NP & MS: Japan.
CVh: Tell us something we don’t know. Anything.
NP & MS: We’re developing a fully vegan menu for a new spot just outside of the city. We can’t say too much about it yet.
CVh: What’d I forget to ask?
NP & MS: Date of our next pop-up.
CVh: When’s your next pop-up?
NP & MS: We are doing food for a couple of friends parties in the next couple of weeks but our next two big ones are:
- Vegan & GF cider donuts at Anthology Oct 14th
- Vegan Taco Hell at Lager House on Oct 16th