Interview with Kara Bauer
- what prompted you to open a vegan delivery. Did you choose not to open a restaurant because of your lifestyle/coaching practice. How much as your diet influenced or had an impact on your life and events?
- Are you vegan or on a high raw diet?
I am 95% vegan. I try to eat at least 50% raw, sometimes more. The other 5% is an occasional ice cream in the summer and possibly a slice of cheese or piece of fish every now and then, but that is a rare occasion (I never eat beef or chicken). When I’m coaching, I don’t tell my clients they need to be perfect 100% of the time. The idea is to eat well the majority of the time and to enjoy it! Eventually, you find that you don’t even want the old trigger foods that you did before…as you change your diet, your cravings also change and you find that you prefer nutrient rich foods.
- What or who influenced you to cook? What or who influenced you to stand aside from the meat heavy typical Argentinian diet and offer vegan/raw food to BA urbanites?
The desire to be healthy and offer others the same is the only thing that influenced me to cook. Prior to Cocina Verde, I spent very little time in the kitchen…just enough to cook simple foods for myself that were healthy. In order to open CV, I had to teach myself the skills for vegan and raw food preparation. I did this mostly by reading and watching videos online and trying out recipes. I also had the opportunity to “intern” with a raw food Chef in Seattle while I was home in the US one summer formulating the plans to begin CV.
- How long have you been a vegan/veggie chef??
I was vegetarian for 10 years prior to living in Argentina (since 1997). About a year into my life in BA, I tried eating meat again after receiving a recommendation from a holistic doctor in NY (at that time I had Candida and was working on reducing all types of sugar in my diet). However, even though the symptoms of Candida disappeared momentarily, I found that returning to a diet with animal products was making me lethargic and causing digestive problems. As soon as I went raw (which I did for 2 months 100%), my energy returned and the Candida disappeared completely. Since then (over 3 years ago) I have been following the vegan/raw foods diet.
- What was the initial reaction to your opening and who now is your typical diner? gender/class/nationality
My original customers were mostly foreigners already familiar with vegan and raw food. However, over the past 3 years, there has been a raw vegan food movement in Argentina. After Dr. Gabriel Cousens came to Argentina to teach his Conscious Living course in 2009, many people were inspired to start teaching about raw food nutrition. Vegetarian restaurants began to offer “raw” meals and media journalists began to write a lot more about veganism, organic, raw food, etc. Now my customers are primarily Argentinean. The customers are primarily women (however there are many male customers as well) in the mid-upper income levels. Organic and raw food ingredients are expensive which makes it fairly pricey for the average Argentine. However, those who can’t afford to buy prepared meals are learning to cook and prepare raw food by the many teachers offering classes.
- What is the % of organic produce you use in your dishes and is the produce easy to source?
It’s hard to say as we have to go with what’s available. We’ve had some challenges sourcing organic vegetables on the days we need them delivered, even then we don’t always know what we can get week to week. We will likely be making some changes to our menu and delivery schedule in the next months to work with better with the organic producers. Our goal is to be 50-75% organic the majority of the time. As organic produce and ingredients continue to grow we expect this to get easier.
- Is there a vegan/vegetarian society in Argentina, other than the uva.org.ar? I’ve not found any products with an accreditation (I’ve only found 1 vegan/raw food product in a dietetica).
Jardin Organico and Tallo Verde both have the organic accreditation. So does Campo Claro and La Esquina de Las Flores. The organic certification in Argentina is from the organization called OIA (Organizacion Internacional Agropecuaria).
- What is your most asked for dish?
We have over 100 dishes in rotation so it’s hard to say. However, people love having access to raw foods that take many hours of preparation such as dehydrated crackers, pizzas and wraps. Our nut milks are fairly popular as are our cooked bean and grain dishes.
- What is your favourite dish (if you have one….or at least a current one)?
My favorite dishes would be the falafel and vegetable wrap, buckwheat pizza squares, and tomato, basil and vegan cheese pizza – all raw dishes that require dehydration.
- Favourite ingredient? Do you have to import any of your ingredients? I cannot find an iherb.com or such like equivalent in Argentina.
Importing is highly regulated, expensive and requires and extensive licensing process so we use what’s available and cost effective. I guess my favorite ingredient would be buckwheat – any crusts or crackers made with sprouted buckwheat are excellent. I’m also a big quinoa fan and love just about any dish with it. You can order organic ingredients from Jardin Organico & TalloVerde…there are also a few weekly farmers markets that source many natural organic ingredients (produce, dried, prepared foods, etc.). Even when uncertified (as it’s an expensive process for many small farmers), many still follow organic standards. By talking to them in person you can find out how they produce their products
- Have you ever featured on elgourmet or the like, or in any lifestyle magazines?
- When you prepare your meals at home or our recipe creating, do you have a favourite piece of music you like to listen to, or ambience you like to create?
No, but that’s a nice idea! The truth is that I prepare very little at home these days after the hours spent in the professional kitchen.
- What is your current favourite restaurant (if you ever get any time off!) in BA or Argentina as a whole?
is a nice “raw” restaurant. I also like Bio and Buenos Aires Verde, both of which offer vegan and raw food meals. But, true, I have very little time for dinners out. 😉
- What is your vision for your delivery service and the veggie scene in Argentina?
- Do you have plans for a cookbook? My Spanish is improving but not enough to discover if there are already any vegan or vegetarian cookbooks on the market from Argentinian cooks?
We have discussed translating some Spanish raw food cookbooks in combination with Chef BeLive in the U.S. (he was ranked #1 raw food chef in 2010). He has provided us with some of his recipes that we feature on our menu exclusively through Cocina Verde. I’m not entirely sure what’s on the market, but not much..
- What question do you want to answer that I may have omitted to ask?