Meet Rivka Alvial! Originally from the DMV, Rivka has a passion for all things food and drink. Rivka is a bar boss, pastry chef, and so much more. Keep reading to find out about how Rivka uses food and hospitality to connect with the people and world around her.
GatherDC: Hi Rivka! What brought you to the DMV and what made you stay?
Rivka: My parents came to the States when they were both really young but then moved to Venezuela, where I was born. Eventually they moved back to Maryland and I grew up in this area. I’ve pretty much been here my whole life and I ended up staying. This area is home to me.
GatherDC: Could you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?
Rivka: It would be a day in early fall and I would get to sleep in. I would get sushi at Yoyogi in Gaithersburg and then go to Brookside Gardens because that’s my zen place. I love being outside in nature and walking around to see the flowers. After that I would go to Quarry House in Silver Spring which is my absolute favorite bar. I would finish the day off with burgers, beer and bourbon.
GatherDC: Can you tell us a little about your work?
Rivka: Yes! I am the bar boss at miXt Food Hall in Brentwood MD. I’m in charge of creating everything that comes from our cocktail and coffee bars. The purpose of the food hall is to be an incubator kitchen for local businesses and people, giving them an opportunity to build their business and hopefully grow to a point where they can get their own brick and mortar location. When thinking about the bar, I want to work as locally as possible, with minority-run businesses, and with businesses that support social and environmental causes.. I also want to use the bar as an opportunity to educate people on different types of local liquors and wines from all around the world that don’t really get much attention. I also get to make cocktails incorporating cool ingredients and it’s a lot of fun.
GatherDC: How did you get into bartending and food?
Rivka: My first job was working at a Jewish deli when I was 14 years old. From that moment, I knew that I loved hospitality. I took a hospitality course at Montgomery College, and I had a feeling that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It’s my passion, and my personality fits in so well with hospitality work. And now I’ve been in the industry for over half of my life.
GatherDC: Speaking of food, do you have a favorite Jewish food?
Rivka: Being Sephardic, I feel like our food’s a little different. My favorite food that I associate with Judaism would have to be shakshuka.
GatherDC: How do you connect with your Jewish identity?
Rivka: I feel like my Jewish Identity is with me all the time because my name is Rivka. I think my Jewish identity makes me unique. I feel like anytime people think of me, they think of me being Jewish and also being Latina. That’s always how I’ve been labeled. I don’t really think about being Jewish—It’s just who I am.
GatherDC: Do you have a favorite Jewish experience?
Rivka: Holidays are great mainly because of the cooking. I love hanging out with my mom, my sisters, and my grandma .There’s something beautiful about that communal experience of creating a meal or something special.
GatherDC: If you could invite any three people to your Shabbat dinner who would they be?
Rivka: I would invite Golda Meir, Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés.
GatherDC: Have you picked up any pandemic hobbies?
Rivka: Like everybody else, my hobby was banana bread. I would get this huge 50 pound box of bananas every single week. Throughout the pandemic, I would randomly show up to my friends’ houses and leave a balloon and some banana bread on their doorstep. It was just my way of sending them something sweet and fun and staying connected. And I was able to practice baking which is what I love to do.
GatherDC: Last question! Can you complete this sentence: When the Jews of DC gather…
Rivka: There’s nowhere I’d rather be!