raw pot luck boston
just to let everyone know i host a monthly raw pot luck in dorchester
let me know if you want to come!
the next one is this tuesday 2/21/06 at 6pm
email me at
An appreciation of Organic Garden Cafe
This discussion took place before I joined the forum, but since I've gotten several several emails and messages about it, I came looking for it. Perhaps my perspective will be useful to others.
Originally Posted by JMD
First, I've gotten to know Rawbert at Organic Garden Cafe over the last couple of months, and to work with him some, and to eat a lot of his food, and I've personally found him to be the single most supportive person I've run across yet on my personal journey through the use of raw foods for my own healing and personal growth. I find him to be very open, very non-judgmental, and very interested in hearing whatever people have to communicate, and also very generous in what he shares. And in my experience he personally walks his own talk of living a raw food plus yoga plus meditation lifestyle on a 24/7 basis. I suggest you speak with him directly about your experiences, requests, and suggestions. I think he'd want to know.
Second, I suggest you try to remember that there are many different interpretations of what a "raw" diet should be, as even a brief stroll around this forum should tell you. Some are stricter than others, and nobody is 100% in agreement with anyone else about what "raw" means to them, or even what "healthy" means. Seriously! I stopped in at a good sized and apparently successful "Health Food Store" in Wakefield the other day and did not see a single thing I would eat.
Also public health laws in most communities make hash of some of the practices raw foodists are accustomed to at home. The "rawsafe" temperature of 118 F that is gospel to raw foodists is *DANGER* to food safety inspectors, and commercial food MUST either be chilled far below or heated far above that temperature to be legally sold to the public. This creates dilemmas and compromises. You can always get a cold soup at OGC on request, yes, but the general public (especially in New England) demands a warm soup, and legally that means it's normally served warmer than you might personally be comfortable with. The key thing is to ask and to get clear for yourself.
And if it is not right for you, send it back, wherever you are. That's not being unreasonable.
Here's a couple of things to keep in mind... first, even in a big city raw food vegans are still a pretty small fraction of a percentage of the market at this moment. There have been at least two previous raw food restaurants that I'm aware of on the south side of Boston that have failed. A couple others have a paltry few raw selections in an otherwise non-raw menu. The juice bar that had been serving a few raw food items in Marblehead recently closed and has now been replaced by an espresso and muffin shop.
Originally Posted by JMD
In other cities, in NYC last year the 3 much ballyhooed Quintessance restaurants collapsed down to a single tiny East Village location selling only desserts, after struggling over negative finances for several years. Roxanne's in Larkspur, California, arguably the highest profile, most celebrated, most successful raw food restaurant ever... with long waits for reservations and a packed house every weekend... with rave national newspaper and tv coverage and celebrity clientele... closed 2 years ago without ever having made a profit. And while Pure Food & Wine in the Grammarcy Park neighborhood is a current media darling, not to mention a truly amazing restaurant, its clientele is probably 90% "non-raw" and it's apparently trading heavily at the moment on the perceived sexy vibe of its founders, who unfortunately are no longer together as a couple. Not to be negative, but I would not be surprised if it doesn't last long.
Serving raw organic food in a public restaurant is very, very challenging. Food costs are higher, supply chains more irregular, and food spoilage faster and higher than conventional restaurants. Preparation is more complicated and more labor intensive. To serve guacamole in a raw restaurant, for example, the organic avocados not only have to be available, and thenkept on hand long enough to ripen properly, along with all the other ingredients (lemons, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, etc) and then hand peeled and trimmed and mixed, all to create a highly perishable product that will only keep a couple of days max. But "Carlos & Maxie's (tm)" by contrast only has to pull a tub or retort pack of commissary prepared gaucamole out of the freezer and thaw it out to be in business, 365 days of the year. And the SAD chain restaurant, serving mostly industrial food, is the one that sets the public's tastes, and the public's perceptions of what prepared meals should cost. So they determine the market, for the most part. Consequently even committed people balk at paying $20, say, for a plate of organic food at a place like OGC that would cost $10 at a conventional restaurant, even though that higher cost might be entirely justified, so there's pressure in every direction. It's not an easy equation to solve.
My personal take on it is that Rawbert has a major achievement in creating and maintaining a restaurant for this long that serves "high raw" food (meaning most, but not all items are raw) that appeals to the general public, as well as to raw foodists. I also see it fulfilling an important role in offering accessible and transitional menus. It's not the ARAT customers ordering the bagels at Organic Garden Cafe, it's the non-raw foodists who come in on their own just because the food is healthy and tastes good. Or who come in with their raw foodist friend before catching a movie because they can get something familiar seeming, like pizza or warm soup. But they are the ones most likely to eventualy transition into a raw diet as they learn and experience it more. And frankly, without their patronage, I don't think OGC or any establishment like it would last.
It isn't easy running a restaurant of any kind successfully, and it is even harder running one that serves a fringe market like raw food vegans. I personally find it is kind of miraculous that Rawbert's singular raw food outpost in Beverly, Massachusetts has survived since 1999, when others in more convenient locations have failed. And I am grateful that I'm close enough to OGC to take advantage of what he has to offer.
Love, love, love,
- Shivananda Deva
what an insightful post, that explains alot!
I am glad you have had that experience and are having that with Rawbert. However, you have developed that over time....i spoke with him for 5 minutes.
I am glad the experience is working FOR YOU but does not mean it did for me at that time. It was NOT all about him ..it was also the waitstaff that took 15 minutes to take my order when there was 2 people in the place. They were eating in the back and laughing.....and knew I was there. I have gone there about 7 times over the past 9 months and have not since the last time I was given something with pesto when I STATED i was allergic to nuts and ended up very ill. It is a great place, they offer alot which is whyyyyyyy I kept trying and going back again. He is a good man i am sure his character is fine...BUT IF i go back again, I will speak UP AGAIN to share my point of view. But i am not heading back anytime soon. It is mainly b/c I like my food low salt and not so heavy.
Wishing you continued success with him and his establishment.
Sorry for your bad experience JMD,
and I can understand your frustration. My son has food intolerances, so we experience this a lot at different restaurants.
I think letting the restaurant owner know
in a constructive way your experience can be helpful to others,
and make his restaurant more successful for him as well.
I see nothing wrong if he wants to include some bagels or cooked food,
but perhaps he should advertise as a VEGETARIAN restaurant
instead of a raw one, would be less confusing for all involved.
His menu can be confusing, esp. for someone new to raw from what I saw online.
Sounds like he was focasing on finding you something without nuts and made a mistake. When asked though he should of apoligized for the confusion.
Yes a vitamix heats but if you are careful it will be ok. He was making excuses.
I think suggest to him to indicate on his menu in some way, all 100% raw vegan foods. Either some symbol by them, or a whole different section for them on the menu. And semi -raw or dishes that can be changed to all raw, like wraps should have a different symbol or indication of some sort.
Alot of restaurants use these symbols on their menu for clarity. heart healthy, vegetarian, etc....
I hope he can work out the kinks, or another raw restaurant opens for you!
I came in on the tail end of this discussion...but I just wanted to say I agree with Punky here...Au Lac in CA is like this. They are a vegetarian restaurant that also has a raw menu and a raw chef. Even if you go to their website, they have the vegetarian menu seperate from the raw menu.
Originally Posted by Punky
MAN did they have some delicious raw food...oh...sorry, was just reminiscing there for a minute!
I agree, Shiva brought up some issues that I had not thought of.
Originally Posted by jimi
And yes, it is very hard for a completely 100% raw restaurant to make it.
Yes, exactly. I wasn't trying to invalidate JMD's experience, because it is her experience and it is valid. I just wanted to say I think he'd want to hear what she had to say. Without that feedback, how can he know what people's issues, needs, and desires are?
Originally Posted by Punky
Love, love, love,
- Shivananda Deva
I understand your frustration; with my son I literally have to repeat myself to waitstaff on an elementary grade level...plain and dry...absolutely NO seasoning of any kind...no butter...nothing...etc for my son's gluten intolerance & many allergies. Even seasonings can have gluten as a filler, so I say nothing not even salt/pepper so there is no confusion.
Originally Posted by JMD
If you ever go back, I think you should suggest some nut free dishes. I am sure you are not the only one that could benefit from this; nut allergies are common. My son is allergic to walnuts and pecans, but ok with other nuts. So even at a raw restaurant I would have to be specific to what kind is in the recipe.
I think for summer some lighter fare would be a cold gazpacho soup and some collard wraps (avocados, different veggies and a dressing). Or see if they can whip you something up not on the menu with your advice; keep it simple and they most likely will be willing. Maybe email him with some suggestions/recipes/ideas that would suit your dietary needs. See if he is willing and helpful. That might lead you to whether you should go back or not. If he is not willing than that would indicate his true nature. Plus you might be helping someone else in the future that can not eat nuts, and make them more aware. People are sometimes just plain ignorant to things
and don't get it right away, but may love to be informed. Still frustrating to you none the less!
Sorry you got ill
You are SO sweet and thanks so much for relating. I AM NOTTTT happy your child has these issues. At 34, Ii have had 3 realllllly close calls where I almost stopped breathing FOR GOOD. Being allergic to nuts and SO many senstivities makes dining out a challenge to say the least. I almost fell off the couch laughing at your comments on talking to the waitstaff likelike kids BUT IT IS TRUE. I mean wouldn't they KNOW PESTO IS PINE NutS??????
Just wanted to THANK YOU for your support and BELIEVE me i SPEAK UP ALOT. ThIS IS why i was so discouraged after being so vocal about my needs at this place the past 3 times-- since I have had be so articulate since I was little b/c my life depends on it. Good news is that I recently have found a few restaurants that have some SAD food BUT MAN are they sooooooo accomodating with my RAW FOOD needs. It was so much easier to get what I need and worth the $$$$ . If i ever decide to go back I will speak up again and be an advocate for ones that do not like heavy foods with salts, spices, and nuts. i am actually grateful that my raw food journey had gotten more simple and clean and liek things as they are versus doctored up so much. It digests easier for me to eat simple. I will say ONCE in a while it is great to take a belly ache for some yummy foods though:) from a raw gourmet place.
FYI~~I am working on making some recipes without heavy nuts and salt and will share them when I get them tasting good. :)
PS I also agree that he should FIX the menu to make it easier to read for vegans and raw foodies. if i go in I may suggest that too.
Hugs to your son....I wish you both the best.
I believe everyone has a right to eat out and enjoy life, even if they have allergies and special needs concerning food.
I think that letting the wait staff and the owner know what those special needs are allows them to choose to accomodate you or not.
it is their choice, but I would NEVER pay for anything that was not what I ordered, or wanted, and I would certainly let them know how I felt immediately.
I've had people come back to me 6 months later to say something wasn't right with this or that, when I worked retail, well, I can't help them then, I don't know what they bought, who served them, or anything, who knows it could have been some major catastrophie was happening in the store, or they could have been the super challenging person we all wanted to get out of the store.
so, a timely and polite statement of what was not to your liking and what you did like really helps anyone doing business.
Good luck on your next venture there, or should I say adventure there?
I also have a number of family members wit lethal nut allergies.
And after spending some scary moments in the ER with my nephew and my brother, I am led to wonder...
Is it really safe to eat in any establishment that serves many dishes prepared heavily with ground nuts for someone who can go into anaphylactic shock if they eat something that has come anywhere remotely close to nuts?
My brother nearly died because he was served food which had been cut with a knife that had touched another dish with pesto in it. He couldn't even taste the pesto, but when his tongue started to swell up he knew he was in trouble.
When I was planning my wedding one of the most important things about our cake was that the bakery had to assure me that they could prepare it with utensils and bowl and then be stored in a refriderator that came nowhere near any nuts at all.
Our family reads labels very carefully, and will not even serve foods that have been processed in facilities that process nuts.
It strikes me that it is a pretty risky proposition to hope that a small restaurant kitchen which uses lots and lots of ground nuts could create dishes that are not even minutely contaminated with nuts.
As others have stated before, people who don't have experience with food allergies might not be able to grasp the gravity of what someone is asking for. It might never occur to them that if the food they prepare for a person with nut allergies is cut on the same cutting board as a dish that had nuts in it after it had been wiped clean it can still kill them.
ageless timeless I
defy laws of gravity
this raw flame in me
Sigh... Living in northern California, Roxanne's was the most unbelievable raw dining experience you could ever imagine. I still can't get over it shutting down. Even as a cooked eater at that time, she was one of the greatest culinary talents I've ever experienced - truly 5 star. She converted die-hard meat eaters, as well as cooked vegetarians, and it was her restaurant that first made me aware of raw food. I wish I could share with all of you the experience of eating there. I was heart broken when it went out of business. I still remember driving there and standing outside the door and looking at the sign, as if it might say something different if I stood there long enough!
Originally Posted by Shivananda
I have heard, however, that the closing had to do with personal issues more than profit ones. Roxanne and her husband had dedicated all profits from the restaurant to be donated to charity from its inception. Given their incredible wine collection, their 2 acre garden and the amazing architectural features they put into the restaurant, which was all solar, fountains, etc., I'm not surprised if those profits were two years slow in coming. But she and her husband, who was the son of the Bally dynasty, split just before its closing. She tried to keep a raw deli open for a while, but alas.
But still, I agree with one of Shiva's points. It is awfully hard to keep a raw restaurant open. Urban Forage was an excellent vegan restaurant that was part raw/part cooked, and I was very disappointed to see how short-lived its existence was. We now frequent Cafe Gratitude, which has locations in SF and Berkeley, and at first, I was cautious of some of the things on the menu. For example, they have veggie bowls that come with quinoa or rice. Their staff is very upfront about these items being cooked. So long as that's the case, it doesn't matter to me if the restaurant also sells cooked foods, because (a) I figure it's got a much better chance of staying in business, allowing me the rare luxury of eating out raw, and (b) most of my friends are not raw and it allows me to eat with them without feeling any more bizarre and out there than I already do. I know, I know, I shouldn't feel out there, but hey, I do.
I am so glad that you posted this thread. I was just about (no kidding!) to post a thread asking if anyone has ever been to this restaurant before as we are taking a road trip through Mass next month and I wanted to stop in. However since you have had such a bad experience there I don't believe that I will be going after all. That is very disappointing!
Thanks for posting this. I too, wish that there was a good raw restaurant around here!
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jer 31:3
my blog about my journey and my raw food life: http://eatrawtolive.blogspot.com/
our website: www.deschenesdanes.com
You are SO sweet and thanks so much for relating. I AM NOTTTT happy your child has these issues. At 34, Ii have had 3 realllllly close calls where I almost stopped breathing FOR GOOD. Being allergic to nuts and SO many senstivities makes dining out a challenge to say the least. I almost fell off the couch laughing at your comments on talking to the waitstaff likelike kids BUT IT IS TRUE. I mean wouldn't they KNOW PESTO IS PINE NutS??????>>>>
Yes having so many food allergies is very challenging for us when eating out at times. I usually always have to order his off the adults menu too. Which is ok, because it is healthier anyways, but more expensive. Kids menu is basically chicken nuggets, pizza and the like. Non of which he can have, and is sub-quality food anyways.
But on the bright side his allergies are not life threatening. So if there is some cross contamination of some sort, or mistake (which happens alot) on
the waitstaffs knowledge than at least he won't get severly ill.
I also give him enzymes whenever we eat out to help digest things just incase too. He has trouble digesting gluten and dairy. I don't think that would work in your case since yours is more life threatening. Most of his is for behavioral/developmental issues (gluten/dairy free). On nuts he did get a 3 on the back prick test so he is not suppose to have, but I never noticed any severe response before he was tested and he ate them.
Anyways, yes, waitstaff really just don't get it most of the time...
it's not that they are stupid or uncaring, but they are just ignorant to the whole
food allergy thing and what it entails...
<<<Good news is that I recently have found a few restaurants that have some SAD food BUT MAN are they sooooooo accomodating with my RAW FOOD needs. It was so much easier to get what I need and worth the $$$$>>>
I am so glad you have found some restarants that have worked with you!