Person of Interest: Bettina Stern


Bettina Stern is the co-founder of Chaia, a seasonally-inspired vegetarian taco stand that’s soon to be a storefront in Georgetown. Since 2013, Bettina has used Chaia to further her appreciation for her local, sustainable and plant-based food. A longtime D.C. resident, find out what Bettina loves about the city.

What’s a typical day for you?

hot  coffee

hot coffee

From the start of each morning I share coffee in the early hours with my husband Chris (he always makes it), respond to shorter emails, take a run with my two dogs and – with luck – a girlfriend or two, then come home to shower and dress, respond to longer emails, head to work, attend sons’ after-school sports events, get dinner on the table for our family, maybe read in bed before falling off to sleep. Do it all over again the next day.

What or who is your biggest influence?

In the food business it would have to be Ina Garten, better known as the barefoot“Barefoot Contessa”.  She was my first boss and we worked together over several summers in the very early days of her business. She taught me to work hard and to enjoy what you do each and every day.

What neighborhood do you live in?
Cleveland Park. We’ve been here just over 20 years. I thought DC would be a short blip in my life; instead it has turned out to be the place I will spend the bulk of my adult years.


What is your biggest DC pet peeve?

Not enough shops selling great shoes. I prefer handmade Italian boots that last a lifetime.

Favorite song of 2015?

It’s only June and we’re only halfway through this year! Music is so personal and it plays at different heart strings: John johnallofmeLegend is really talented and “All of Me”, his pop love ballad is very beautiful and the lyrics are terrific. But, I just worked the sweetlife festival at Merriwether Post Pavillion and really liked Allen Stone’s set. Funny thing is both of these guys are R&B/soul and I tend toward hard rock like late 80s/early 90s Guns n’ Roses-style stuff.

Favorite DC haunt?

I have loved the 9:30 Club from the start. It is a fantastic and super-progressive venue. They’ve had a superior knack for discovering up-and-coming acts. Some of the favorites acts I’ve seen there over the years: Stereophonics, Jack White with The Raconteurs, Mutemath, Drive By Truckers, David Byrne, and Arctic Monkeys.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Take a long run and then enjoy a many hours brunch with friends. Unfortunately, the last couple of years have stolen my Sundays. I hope to get them back in the near future.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

manhattanIf I could, I would divide my time between the beautiful wilds of a windswept, empty surf beach and a vibrant, non-stop city like my own hometown of Manhattan.

If you couldn’t be a…, what would you be?

An architect.

Top three favorite movies?

The Graduate, Toy Story, The Best Years of Our Livesthebestyears

Name five people, alive or dead, you’d love to invite to a dinner party.

I’m thinking it has to be fun and a bit insane. These five artists are brilliant and a bit off-kilter. That makes for a potentially interesting and (hopefully) good time, co-ed of amywinehousecourse. Maybe each of them, so different, will appreciate one another’s unique intensity and dazzling artistic intellect:

Missy Elliott (ballsy and smart)

Mick Jagger (classic)

Amy Winehouse (outrageous)

Rem Koolhaas (brilliant)

Robert Downey, Jr. or Justin Timberlake (sexy, funny, multi-talented). Think Tropic Thunder and most any Jimmy Fallon bromance moment.

Most embarrassing moment?

I tend not to embarrass myself, only others…particularly my husband and sons (much of the time, I think).

What was your major in college, and do you use it today?

paulnewmanI was a double major in American Studies and Italian. Not particularly useful, but I enjoyed the work.

Who do you think is the most attractive person to ever live?

Paul Newman ranks up there: handsome, charming, funny, a good man, social activist, entrepreneurial, philanthropic and those blue, blue eyes.

Name one thing most people don’t know about you.

I was born in Brazil.


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