She has transformed tomatoes into tuna, eggplant into an eel, and disease into diminution. Now, the innovative and inspirational Thalia Tatham is turning the vegan restaurant industry on its sushi side.
The founder of House of Vegano in the city’s Grand Central District, Tatham’s unconventional vegan cuisine and 100-percent plant-based, hand-rolled sushi continues to thrive as one of Tampa/St. Pete’s hidden gems.
And to think, it started with a disease … wrapped in a pandemic.
“I just wanted to find something that would help alleviate some of the pain I was living with,” Tatham says. “Now I’m a vegan and a chef and a restaurant owner. It’s been an amazing journey. Going vegan saved my life.”
Tatham was diagnosed with Lupus after giving birth to one of her five children in 2007. As a bodybuilder who ingested inordinate amounts of animal-based protein, she at least managed her disease.
“I worked around it,” Tatham says. “Rest. Hydration. Ibuprofen. I learned to live with it.”
But while being quarantined at home during the 2020 COVID pandemic, Tatham stumbled onto a discovery that changed her life and countless others. Both killing time and feeding her curiosity, she watched a documentary – The Game Changers – that touted the benefits of a plant-based diet. After extensive due diligence, she dove in head-first, eventually going to her refrigerator and dumping out pounds of her favorite meals.
Tatham went cold turkey on seafood and all animal products.
“Six months later I felt better than ever,” she says. “No joint pain. No flares. Improved workouts. Mental clarity. Everything. My Lupus was undetectable.”
Suddenly on a mission – but still a foodie at heart – Tatham set out to re-shape sushi into something both healthy and sustainable.
“I wanted to make the transition to a plant-based diet, but without the sacrifice of taste, flavor, and enjoyment,” she says. “I wouldn’t be happy eating salad every meal for the rest of my life. I wanted to create healthy food that wasn’t bland.”
With no classical culinary training, Tatham began experimenting and eventually veganizing old family recipes. She did grass-roots marketing and partnered with the vegan grocery store, Black Radish, before taking the leap and opening House of Vegano, a restaurant inspired by traditional flavors and offering a fresh, creative, and sustainable interpretation of Japanese-inspired cuisine.
Not long ago an EMT, Tatham is now the proprietor of one of the area’s most popular vegan restaurants.
“In my old job I used to be with people at the worst times of their life,” says the 38-year-old Tatham. “Now, it’s such a blessing and an honor to help people transition to a healthy way of eating and be a part of the best time of their life.”
ABOUT HOUSE OF VEGANO
Our first restaurant was opened in March 2022 by visionary owner Thalia Tatham. Equal parts inspiration and desperation, the concept of 100-percent plant-based sushi was born from Thalia’s long battle with Lupus. While quarantined during the COVID pandemic in 2020, she decided to experiment with her diet in an attempt to combat the joint and chest pain she’d dealt with since 2007 as a result of the autoimmune disease. Six months after going vegan – voila – the side effects subsided and a restaurant idea sprang to life. House of Vegano is located at 1990 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33712.
SOURCE: House of Vegano