This month we sit down with Oded Brenner to talk about his new venture, Blue Stripes Cacao Shop, and the spices we did together that elevate his cacao drinks.
Thanks for taking the time Oded, we’re excited to collaborate with you and would love to learn more about your concept and vision. Notably you’ve opened a cacao and not a chocolate shop, can you explain the difference?
The name says it all, we are the first cacao shop that showcases the entire cacao fruit. We create a new experience by using the raw pulp of the cacao fruit. Lightly textured and sweet, we use it to make energy drinks and bowls. We also take cacao beans from different single origins and grind them fresh on the spot using a unique grinder that creates a smooth paste. We cook this with water, condensed milk, and spices, creating our ultimate version of hot chocolate.
This month we sit down with Kanchan Koya, founder of Spice Spice Baby, an online platform dedicated to sharing the health benefits of spices and making those benefits accessible through easy to follow and delicious recipes.
Spice spice baby | Photography by Wayne Wong with Evoke Eternity (www.evokeeternity.com)
Thank you very much for taking the time to sit down with us, we focus on the culinary side of spices, so it’s nice to hear from someone who can speak to the nutritional side. You have a background in Molecular Biology, how did this inform the approach that you took to cooking and nutrition? What is something you discovered that surprised and delighted you?
During my PhD in molecular cancer biology, I learned first hand that our bodies have an innate capacity to heal and repair themselves if we just provide them with the right nourishment. It’s truly not rocket science. The evidence tells us that if we eat whole, unprocessed foods and limit the ‘junk’, our bodies will take care of the rest (good quality sleep, movement, and social interaction help too!). So my approach to cooking and nutrition is quite simple – loads of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, good fats like olive oil, wild-caught fish, pasture-raised, high quality meats, and so on. And of course, SPICES, thanks to their wide ranging benefits like blood sugar control, anti-inflammatory effects, anti-oxidant powers, brain health-boosting properties, and so on and so forth – are powerful tools to aid these natural healing processes, while also serving as mega flavour-enhancers! So they go into pretty much every meal I whip up.
What has surprised and delighted me is how genuinely delicious healthy food can be! I don’t believe in banning the ‘junk’ foods so we do enjoy them on occasion in a celebratory and unapologetic way, but what is quite fascinating is how eating a real, unprocessed food-based diet literally changes your preferences so you crave less of those ‘treat’ foods. It’s truly a lifestyle of abundance rather than deprivation.
This month we sit down with Helen Todd, co-founder & CEO of social media agency Sociality Squared. She recently put together a panel at SXSW including Lior and our good friend and photographer Thomas Schauer, and we’re going tease out some insights and get her perspective on the food related aspects of her work.
Thanks Helen for taking the time. First off, your agency works with diverse clients across many industries, and a few food companies in particular. Who are some of your clients in the food world and what’s a recent campaign you’re particularly proud of?
First, we think a lot about food here at Sociality Squared! We have a chef on the team, food photographers and videographers, and foodies. Having a passion about food in our personal lives fuels the work we do for our clients. From cooking meals together as a team to hosting dinners to providing food photography services, we believe that food fosters creativity, conversation, and community.
We clearly love working with food and beverage clients! We have helped restaurants like Bonchon Chicken and CPG brands like Wild Turkey bourbon, Helena Valley Wine, and Popcorn, Indiana.
This month we sit down with Cara Tobin and Courtney Contos, good friends and clients of ours up in Burlington Vermont. Later in May Lior will be joining them for a spice dinner at Honey Road and a spice blending demo at Chef Contos.
Thank you two for taking the time. Can you each please tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
Cara – Totally! I’m the Chef/Owner of Honey Road Restaurant. We are an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant located on historic Church St. in downtown Burlington. We serve mezze style dishes that are inspired by the local produce, meats and dairy of Vermont. I started learning about eastern Mediterranean food while working at Oleana in Cambridge, Ma. I fell in love with the cuisine after my first trip to Turkey in 2011. It was life changing.
Courtney – Absolutely! I am the chef and owner of Chef Contos Kitchen & Store in Shelburne Vermont. We offer over 100 cooking classes a year and never repeat one. Named one of the best schools in the world by Food & Wine! The school is attached to a chef curated kitchen store that I always say is similar to William Sonoma’s rich aunt in Brooklyn!