Many of you will have had gotten to know our raw chef Omid Jaffari through his recipes for our blog, where he’s been providing us with two recipes weekly for over six months now, a handful of which have also found their way onto the KORA blog. We caught up with him last week to hear all about his latest gig as a celebrity chef. Somehow or other former World No.1 Serena Williams heard about our Omid and requested his services during her visit here for the Australian Open, which the Botanical Cuisine maestro was only too happy to provide!
So you’ve finished up now with Serena?
Yes, I’ve finished with Serena, she’s gone, back in the U.S. now. It was fun, it was challenging, great to be catering to a celebrity. It was great serving her and finally making her happy!
Why then has she started on a raw diet?
She’s supporting Venus, her sister, who’s quite sick and was diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome last year, an autoimmune disease. She doesn’t discuss those kind of things, to be honest, it was a matter of other people letting me know. She’s not fully raw, she’s eating from the most common areas of raw food: green smoothies, green juices, raw granolas and mueslis, almond milk, a lot of salads. She loves seafood, a bit of chicken, but she doesn’t eat red meat.
Lots of protein then?
Uh huh. Especially when she’s training.
How did you decide on her menu?
We crafted a menu which provided her with a lot of really beautiful green smoothies and juices in the morning, and of course we implemented a lot of Loving Earth supplements, lots of superfood products in her green smoothies and juices. So we gave her Buckini Deluxe for breakfast aswell and provided her with Loving Earth’s almonds too, since her mother is really keen on learning how to make her own stuff. We gave her lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, lucuma, mesquite, acai and she started making her own superfood nutmilks! We gave her a blender and a nutmilk bag and a couple of 1 litre jars plus some recipes to play with, so she made them fresh every morning. That was every day. A day’s menu for example, she had a really nice big lunch, maybe a smoked chicken salad with lots of fruits, rocket and all that kind of stuff, and then for dinner we made her a raw tart. A really nice, light tart base with beautiful cream cheese. Garlic, onion and cheese with herbs like dill.
A raw cheese with probiotics, or dairy?
No no no, no dairy! A raw vegan tart, a dill cheese, lots of lemon and lime, dehydrated seasonal root vegetables with lucuma…that one was delicious!
So what kind of things did you have to take into consideration for an elite athelete’s diet as compared to those of most people?
Well it wasn’t actually that difficult, we just had to make sure that she got one and a half litres of green smoothie every morning. We’d change the greens every day, kale or baby spinach, and we’d put in gubinge pulp, banana, a bit of pineapple, orange juice, plus some mesquite and lucuma, always some AFA and then we’d switch between acai and maqui berry each day. Her juices were mainly just lots of spinach, kale, parsley, mint, all that kind of stuff, with pear or grapefruit maybe.
How did she respond to the green smoothies?
She loved them! They were always gone! In fact, sometimes the other food would come back, she loves curries aswell so sometimes we’d make her a really nice vegetarian curry for lunch and we’d provide a very big serving, but some of it would come back. Always though, the juices and smoothies were gone. So it seemed like it was something she had in the morning and then kept drinking it throughout the day.
Were there any unforeseen difficulties with her?
Well, a funny one actually, she really liked chilies. A lot of chilies, and it was important for us not to just add chili to her food but to balance it amongst the flavours. So that was actually a really good experience because I had to learn to make hot, spicy raw food, but flavoursome instead of just hot. That was one thing we had to learn, but otherwise she was a really nice girl and she just wanted a lot of food, because obviously she was training, so we always had to make a lot more. It was better to have leftovers than to leave her hungry.
I was wondering how you dealt with protein since so many athletes in training require quite a lot of it?
Well there’s a lot of protein in her green smoothies, so she had a lot of that, plus a lot of mango, which has good protein, and a lot of nuts went into the almond milk plus a lot of other nuts in her tarts. So when you think about it, even if she didn’t have fish or chicken, she still would have been fine. Those raw food athletes out there train really hard, so we followed some of the principles of what they would consume.
What about dietary supplements, did you use any of those?
No. All the superfood powders from Loving Earth. No others were necessary.
Have you cooked for any other celebrities?
Yeah, yourself, hahah!! No, no other celebrities. It was fun though!
What about other celebrity raw foodies, do you know much about them?
Yeah, Radiohead eats a lot of raw food. Cold Play. A couple of actors, Demi Moore, Cher, there’s quite a few stars getting into the raw food diet. To be honest with you it’s not a big deal for me, cooking for raw celebrities.
Is it something you’d like to do again?
Oh, it’s definitely something that our company Botanical Cuisine would be interested in catering for, we’ll most definitely cater for Serena next year and quite possibly cater for other celebrities. The more raw food chefs we train, the better service we can provide.
Okay, cool, thanks Omid!