100% plant-based eatery 42°Raw has been a huge hit in Denmark, inspiring diets and making headlines. Over the next few years, owner Jesper Rydahl is confident the raw food concept is also set to make a stir in London too…
Discovering raw food…
Founder of 42°Raw Jesper Rydahl, first came across the raw food concept in Copenhagen three-and-a-half years ago.
“That was the first time ever I’d heard about raw food, and I was just really intrigued by how natural and healthy it sounded, so I started looking into plant based eating in general,” he says.
“The more I read, I just thought the concept sounded more and more appealing,” he adds.
A personal experience also prompted Jesper to believe even more strongly in the concept. After a lecture from American self-help author and motivational speaker Anthony Robins, Jesper says he was inspired to cut out sugar completely from his diet to relieve daily headaches and tiredness – and it worked.
“That was the first time I realised the effect of what we eat and drink on our bodies and our mind – that was quite a significant success story.”
“Plant Strong” diet
This is when Jesper came across a gap in the market, realising there was no contemporary concept in Copenhagen where you could eat plant based, foods – you had to visit strictly vegan or vegetarian places, where he says there’s a “culture wall” that could potentially put off non-vegans or non-vegetarians. From this, the idea for Jesper’s contemporary 100 per cent plant-based raw food concept - 42°Raw - was born.
Despite being completely sold on the idea of raw food eating as a healthy diet, Jesper is not a vegan himself. But this is the ethos he tries to bring across through 42°Raw, that you don’t need to go the whole hog and completely cut out all meat/dairy from your life, but that it is important to have a “Plant Strong” diet.
“Being vegan… it’s a bit like becoming a nun, it’s a celibacy, it’s so radical. It’s like we’ll stuff you into this box and you’ll never, ever be able to take a peak out of it, and that doesn’t feel comfortable..” says Jesper.
In fact, according to a recent survey run by 42°Raw, only five per cent of the cafe’s clientele are actually vegan or vegetarian, says Jesper. “The rest are neither one or the other, they just want a delicious, healthy meal.”
“The trick is ‘conventional’ eaters, they know that plant based eating is healthier, but we need to make it desirable for them, to attract them to eat more plants”
“We have a lot of well educated people in the big cities, if we can make it accessible to them, then they will come, not because they want to be vegan, they don’t want to be anything, they just want to be healthy.”
Meat, dairy and gluten free
On the menu at 42°Raw you can find lasagnes, exotic salads and tapas plates. The eatery also has a changing array of tempting chocolate desserts and cupcakes, all of which are of course completely dairy and gluten free. Dish development includes introducing warm dishes to the 42°Raw menus, to tempt people during the cold winter months, such as a new risotto dish, made with organic brown rice, portobello mushrooms and white truffle oil.
Despite not using any meat, dairy, refined sugar or gluten in their dishes, Jesper explains the 42°Raw brand never uses the words vegan or vegetarian, so as not to scare away potential meat/dairy eating customers who are put off by such terms. ”What we provide is a ‘normal’ contemporary setting that has the look and feel like a modern days’ farmers market – the fact that the food is vegan is not communicated in any way.”
Just the beginning for raw in London…
Jesper believes this is just the beginning for raw food in London.
“I think we’ll see more concepts like 42°Raw in the future,” he says. “We’ll see more mainstream plant-based food concepts that don’t just appeal to vegans/veggies or any other sub cultural nichey groups, but serving plant-based dishes that appeal to as broad an audience as possible.”
The owner says that even though the London cafe has quite a hidden location, (in the heart of Mayfair, inside the Royal Academy of Arts), the eatery still receives many regulars – in the form of investment bankers, lawyers and PRs on their lunch break, or in the morning before work. However, Jesper admits that, in London, the raw food concept hasn’t quite yet taken off to the extent that it has in other cities such as Copenhagan, LA and New York. But with 42°Raw only launching in London eight months ago, it has not yet had enough time to create momentum in the city, he explains.
There is still work to be done to make raw food a concept that is on everyone’s lips, he says – as it is in LA, California and Copenhagen. “We will develop the concept some more in 2013 and gather more experience, so around a year from now we’ll feel 100 per cent ready to scout a another location and suddenly become very visible…”