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Interview with Maz Valcorza from Sādhanā Kitchen

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Maz to interview her about the launch of her new cookbook Uncooked.

To say that I was excited about this interview is an understatement. I’ve been a huge fan of Maz and her cafe, Sādhanā Kitchen (Sydney’s first organic raw foods cafe) for a long time.

Sadhana Kitchen.47-001

Now, the Raw Food Jedi is sharing some of her secret to raw food success through her new book Uncooked. Maz is such a passionate and lovely person to talk to. We talked about her journey to veganism, the story behind Sādhanā Kitchen, and her new cookbook. Check it out.

So Maz, tell me how you got started?

I was a pharmaceutical sales and marketing executive working for one of the top four pharmaceutical companies in the world, managing the northern region of Australia for two product launches, so I got a sound understanding of the commercial aspect of healthcare. It wasn’t until I started yoga that I realized exactly how the choices we make in terms of what we eat, affects ourselves and on the world, so I became a yoga teacher and became vegan.

I was still working in that role when I began a raw food blog. I was looking for a healthier way of being vegan and it was really interesting and easy so I thought you, not as many people know about as should be the case so I might as well share it.

As it turned out, the owner of the yoga studio I studied at has an available space, so my partner and I at the time resigned from our jobs and opened Sadhana Kitchen. So that was 2.5 years ago – we lived in Narrabeen on the beach and travelled over here every single day and that’s how it started. Eventually we went our separate ways as a couple and as a business partners but he’s still one of my best friends.

He’s travelling around the world right now doing what he wants to do and left Sādhanā with me which is what I want to do and we’ve grown a lot, before it was just the two of us, now we have 13 staff, we open 7 days a week, and we’re doing so many other things other than just providing a café.

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So tell me about Sādhanā and what it actually means.

Sādhanā is Sanskrit for conscious spiritual practice. I’m an Ashtanga yogi, I practice every morning and that forms part of my Sādhanā. It’s basically what you do every single day to make you happy. So we named this place Sādhanā kitchen because I think that we eat should be part of your daily practice and it should be something you’re mindful of because it is really important in regards to whether you will be happy or healthy.

It’s a really cute name too, I like it…

No one ever knows how to say it….

Hahaha I got it wrong too… how do you say it.

It’s Sādhanā – s ah – dh ah – n ah

Got it!

I’ve seen so many new things here at Sādhanā Kitchen. You’re now doing juice cleanses, degustation, and even raw high tea.  It’s amazing to see how much this place has grown.

Yes I think it’s about finding the right space and also finding time. I have enough staff now, and they are all so talented so I don’t have to be in the kitchen all the time and I don’t have to be here each day anymore so that gave me time to write the book.

Are you 100% raw vegan?

No. I was for about 2 years, but I don’t agree with putting emphasis on what percentage vegan, paleo, raw vegan, or whatever you are, because it makes people strive for the perfect figure that may not necessarily resonate most with them as an individual.

I think people should lead with their intuition and do what makes them feel the best and for me I eat cooked food rarely, maybe a couple of times a week, usually at night. Sometimes I like to make something cooked for dinner because it’s winter, or cold or raining, but most of the time I feel the best when I eat raw vegan. You should do what makes you happy.

Sadhana-Maz interview-collage

So about your new cook book, uncooked, what inspires you to write this cookbook?

I actually wrote a 14 day  guide on how to eat raw almost 2 years ago but because I have so much more information and recipes I just wanted to share in the most accessible way possible. My partner is a talented photographer and we have an amazing in-house designer for Sādhanā kitchen so I thought, we have the resources to create a book why not jut do it?

The recipe starts from very basic and some are more elaborate.  The reason I chose that wholistic approach over an introduction to raw food cookbook is because Sādhanā kitchen is known not for it’s basic recipes but for all the various flavours we combine to mirror the experience that you get from traditional food. It’s for everyone, you can start with the book and it can also grow with you. We have 45 raw vegan recipes, from cold-pressed juices, smoothies, dips, dressings, snacks, mains and dessert, it’s everything. You can see the contents list online on our online store.

What are the essential kitchen equipments for raw cooking?

We also have kitchen essentials and pantry essential and it will set you up but my recommendation is that as long as you have a sharp knife you can pretty much do anything and high power blender is also good to have.

I’ve been following your youtube video and you use your vitamix a lot.

Yes it’s like most people can’t imagine having a kitchen without a stove for some people a microwave so I think having a blender is a pretty reasonable to have. And if you think a bout raw food it’s the most used appliance. If you’re serious about changing your lifestyle and a cleaner way of eating, a blender is the best thing that you could have.

So a knife and blender.

Yes

I’ve also heard you talk about alkaline filitered water in your videos, tell me how is it different than normal water.

So tap water in Sydney is not the greatest, it contains heavy metals and it’s been chemically treated as well. Obviously it’s not going to kill you instantly but we’re talking about optimum health and to achieve that you need ultimate practices. Alkaline water has been remineralised. The western diet is very acid forming in the body and we want to move towards a more alkaline diet because an acidic environment is an environement within which a lot of chronic diseases thrive. We have a filter here at the café so we only serve filtered alkaline water and we only use that in our food.

There’s a list of things that people will come across as they begin to change their lifestyles. Though it’s important to make consistent positive improvements, I don’t advocate stressing about it. Do what you can when you can.

What’s your favourite recipe from the book?

Probably the Fererro Rocher, I was quite please when I came out with that.

And is there any recipe that you’d like to share with us?

Here’s a recipe from Uncooked:

Sadhana Wake-Up Call
 
Having this tonic upon waking will help to flush out the toxins that have accumulated while the body has rested overnight. lemon is very alkalizing while turmeric is immune building as a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compound. the cayenne pepper helps to kick-start your metabolism for the day.
Author:
Serves: This recipe makes 500 ml of cold pressed juice
Ingredients
  • 1 whole lemon lemon (leave peel on when using organic lemons)
  • 1 inch knob turmeric
  • 1 cup apple chopped
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 
250 ml filtered alkaline water
Method
  1. Pass all ingredients through a cold pressed juicer adding the water last.

Cover-Shot That’s all folks! Uncooked is available in Hard Copy or E-Book version from Sādhanā Kitchen website. You can find Sadhana Kitchen on 147 Enmore Road, Enmore, NSW, Australia

So, what do you think about going Raw? I’m consciously adding raw food in my diet…eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I think I’d struggle moving away from the traditional baked goods… I love my bread!! What about you?

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