In this article, Ani Phyo shares on gourmet raw, what is in her pantry and the best blenders for home and travel. Ani Phyo is a raw food chef extraordinaire and the author of Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen and Ani’s Raw Food Desserts.
Kevin: I am excited to have Ani Phyo with us today. Today’s going to be really fun. Why not introduce yourself and tell how you got into this whole arena.
Ani: Sure, okay. Let’s see. I was really lucky to have been raised on a lot of raw food. My father was a raw fooder. That was like the previous generation of raw. It was when raw food was really about the functionality. So my mom would make vegetable juices with everything that was ripe in the garden that day, without any consideration for visual color or look or flavor. It was more about “put everything in there because it’s good for you and hold your breath and chug it down and get it into your body because it was good for you.”
Then around the mid-90s when I was in San Francisco during the whole dot-com boom, explosion, the multi-media gulch, I came upon Juliano’s restaurant in San Francisco. For the first time I was introduced to a gourmet raw, this new wave of gourmet raw food, without really realizing that is was the same philosophy of what I had been raised with. As I started learning about that and discovering how it affected my body and gave me mental clarity and focus and kept me from getting sick and made my productivity very high, I started delving into it and making more of that food for myself. As I would have somebody over to dinner or go to dinner I’d be making more of it and sharing it. Everyone that would taste the food would be interested in it because everyone that I talked with wants to look and feel their best and get the most out of life and stay healthy and not be sick, all of that great stuff, be their ideal weight.
So I guess by the late 90s I had started doing more catering and events and dinners. When I went down to Los Angeles I was doing weekly dinners for 50-100 people, before there were any raw restaurants down here, really just as a service to the raw community because there were not restaurants. But also for selfish reasons because I needed to feed myself. It was like extreme gourmet. I would be soaking, dehydrating, marinating, sprouting. Really complex recipes. I don’t enjoy doing that when making the food for myself. It’s all about sharing it with others. So by having these events I could have a reason for making this food and then I’d have food to eat up to those events and then leftovers after the events. That would carry me through the week. So that’s really how I got started, for selfish reasons, to have food to feed myself.
Kevin: The book is on consulting. You’d done consulting for different companies, correct? The original book you wrote. The first book you wrote.
Ani: “Return on Design”?
Ani: It was an interaction, user-experience design book.
Kevin: How did you go into raw food chef? What made you flip the switch? Was it just, “Hey I need to do something different, I don’t like this anymore”?
Ani: I think what it was…I started off as a 3D modeler, animator and then a special effects person. That was the early 90s. As the web started happening in the early 90s and mid-90s, I sort of moved onto the web and doing multimedia online. Towards the later 90s it really became about the large corporations and eCommerce online. That was when I was doing the dinners on the weekends so I could have food to have to take with me into these corporate offices during the weekdays. I think it really just hit this plateau when I got down to LA and I was working with some of the studios and it was really heartbreaking for me to be in these environments because it was during the rolling blackouts and things and there was a shortage of energy, yet these huge corporate towers were really over-cooling the buildings to a point where employees were wearing like fall jackets to the office in the middle of summer when it was 110 degrees. They were wearing blankets over their shoulders at their desks. Our fingers were so cold I couldn’t type. So they were wasting that much energy and then also they weren’t recycling in the break room or whatever. They were drinking water out of Styrofoam cups. People would go and drink like three ounces of water out of a Styrofoam cup and then throw it away.
So being in that kind of environment was really challenging for me. By that time I had been several years of doing the catering and events. They were really taking off. I realized doing dinners 50-100 people every week, I was like, “Wow, this is really a viable business actually.” So I thought, “Why don’t I take a break from the convergence media and focus 100 percent on the food business?” That was really where my heart was. I could see how it was helping people. It was helping the community. It was helping people gain better health and getting more out of their lives and helping them feel better. So I just really believed in that. So that was when I made the switch from making large corporations more and more money when they weren’t really taking care of their communities or the environment, over to the raw food.
Kevin: Great. Well, we have a lot of questions here. They’re all over the map. We have a lot of great people who are listening and a lot of great questions. I’m kind of struggling as to where to start. Why don’t we start with this listener’s question? What are the top five things in your pantry?
Ani: That are in my pantry…
Kevin: Or that are in your arsenal?
Ani: The top five things. Well, right now I go to the Farmer’s Market all the time, when I’m at home. I love it. Peaches are just so amazing. So I always have the vegetables and the fruit in my kitchen, always. I really like the dark leafy greens like the kales and the chards and I like cabbages because they’re so alkalinizing. In my pantry I always have almonds and cashews and different kinds of nuts and seeds. Actually, in my fridge I have hemp and hemp protein. I always have my superfoods, like acai and my chia seeds and my maca and lucuma, all that kind of stuff, my goji berries. Then I have my greens like spirulina, E3live, Vitamineral Green, that kind of stuff, which I really love. So I think those things I would have on hand.
Then when I’m traveling I always have my personal blender with me and I just take the powders in one of the containers to make a smoothie. I’ll have my hemp protein or something. That way when I get somewhere I can just pick up a banana and blend it in. I have my hemp protein and usually I put in some of the powdered E3Live stuff and different superfoods and I make mix. That way in my hotel room every morning I can start with a smoothie.
Kevin: Great. What kind of blender are you using? Are you traveling with?
Ani: A personal blender from TriBest. It’s my favorite. I just love it because it’s so tiny. I used to travel with my food processor or my Vitamix, so now I have more room in my suitcase for my clothes and my books and things like that. It’s really tiny. I take my two-cup size container and it has the little blender top but it also has a storage top and it has a little travel top for it. It’s really versatile. I really love that blender.