Following a surprisingly hearty lunch and an education in the ways of veganism for the modern epicure at Nama Raw Foods (in short: this committed carnivore has never been so genuinely fine about swapping beef for beets), we delved a little deeper into the restaurant’s ethos with its joint owners, Rich Havardi and Irene Arango.
What makes Nama so special?
We don’t process any of our food, it’s all artisan, locally sourced and completely organic, whilst catering for those wanting meat-free, vegan and gluten-free food.
What are the main benefits to be gained from going unprocessed and organic?
We’ve found that what we produce is appealing to a wide range of people because everyone wants food rich in health benefits. It’s a one-stop shop for health almost, because of raw food’s all-encompassing properties; it boosts the immune system, gives you more energy, helps clear the complexion and is fantastic means of detoxing. Eating this way allows you to have a very clean relationship with food.
What does Nama bring to Notting Hill?
It creates a community, both for people who want to try something fresh and tasty, and those who use this kind of food choice as a lifestyle. In Notting Hill, the residents particularly like to lead extremely healthy lifestyles filled with yoga, the gym and eating well, so our branch here fits perfectly with the needs of the local residents.
How long have you been going for?
We opened in Jan 2013 with a stall in Queen’s Park. Four months ago we set up shop here on Talbot Road in Notting Hill.
What differences have you noticed since re-locating to Notting Hill? Do you think you have filled a gap in the market?
We have plenty more people! In terms of filling a gap in the market, vegan food in general has been going for decades, but specialist raw food is not so old; I think we do fill a gap in that respect.
Naomi Campbell is already a fan… are there any other well-known faces that you count as Nama fans?
We had Annie Lennox in the other week and we also supply quite a lot of food to Stella McCartney.
What dish would you recommend for some after-work nibbles?
A mix of the daikon ravioli, falafel wrap, cheese and broccoli and a savoury crepe paired with a miso soup.
Which drink would you recommend for going into the colder months?
The chai latte with warming extras like lemongrass, lime and mint. Oh, and you should try our shots of ginger and lemon for that cleansing burn. Ideal for a cold!
Tell us a bit about the workshops you hold?
We regularly host raw food courses at our London restaurant which generally hold about 1-3 people per class. The Fermentation Special teaches how to make nut cheeses, probiotic natural fizzy drinks and sauerkraut, amongst others.
Our raw world food series workshop teaches you how to make dishes focusing on one country at a time, from Thailand and Japan to Morocco, Italy, Spain and Peru.
The Introduction to the World of Raw Food provides easy-to-prepare recipes that are perfect for home cooking, whilst our Raw Chocolate Shop delves into the world of raw chocolate, cakes and other sweet treats.
We also offer detox cleanses which consist of diets of solely vegetable or fruit smoothies, ranging from 3-7 days.
You locally source all your ingredients, where do you go?
We use a variety of places nearby or in Notting Hill, but in particular we like to get ingredients from the Queen’s Park farmers’ market, it’s great.
Is there any particular ingredient you think is absolutely delicious but people don’t know about?
Yes! Kohlrabi. It’s what the rice (or what people think is rice) in the curry is made from. It’s actually a mild sprouting vegetable which we churn to develop into rice, it’s delicious.
Which dish, dessert and drink would choose from the menu?
The coconut curry! Drink-wise, the smoothie green dream, which is probably the healthiest drink we have as it’s packed to the rafters with vegetables. Dessert-wise, it has to be the blueberry cheesecake. We ferment the cheese with pro-biotics and use blueberries and nuts to add flavour.
Goodness without the guilt – that’s music to our ears.
Nama Artisan Raw Foods; 110 Talbot Road, Notting Hill, W11 1JR; Mon-Weds 9.00-17.00, Thurs & Fri 9.00-22.00, Sat 10.00-22.00, Sun 10.00-18.00; namafoods.com