“Oooh, I would love to sell my water kefir drinks that night if it's possible. And maybe some raw treats as well for people to snack on?”
That was me in July, volunteering to have a pop-up stall at the Eats, Shoots & Roots Secret Garden Gig. Sometimes I wonder why I raise my hand to do things like that coz it’s a LOT of work.
Neeways, if you haven’t heard about Eats, Shoots & Roots before, in a nutshell they teach city folks how to build edible gardens. Or here’s the official description on their website - a social enterprise with a simple aim: to empower urban individuals and communities with skills and tools to grow their own food, and build a sense of resilience in the city.
I think they’re cool because they have T-shirts that say “Oh My Gourd” with a picture of a gourd or “F-ulam-ak” with a picture of Ulam Raja. In fact, their latest T-shirt designs include a visual of mint leaves stating “Mint To Be” which is actually something that Mr Jazz Guitarist came up with. Totally an #EmbraceTheLame moment.
Plus, they have an awesome edible garden in the suburbs with two egg-laying hens called Merah and Kunyit, and Chef Nick cooks up vegetarian meals every day with produce from the garden for the peeps working there.
I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a menu featuring herbs from the Eats, Shoots & Roots edible garden. They had an abundance of moringa, blue pea flowers, mint, ulam raja, cekur, lemongrass, and more.
Sooooooooo many things to consider:
- Make snacks that are accessible to the general public, especially for those who would be experiencing raw food for the very first time. You don’t want people to go “Ewwww, raw food!”.
- How do I make large portions of food and still keep it fresh?
- How do I transport all that food and drinks from my kitchen to Eats, Shoots & Roots?
- How do I serve them? In paper plates and cups? Would people get offended if we’re using paper but then again if you’re going to have to wash glasses with detergent, wouldn’t that also be polluting the environment? Use biodegrable plates!
- How much food do you make? How many people will actually want to eat raw food?
Something savoury. Initially I was thinking of making a Moringa pesto but somehow that didn’t meet my super high standards during the testing period. So I went with a cashew cheese dip instead to be eaten with raw crackers and both those can have handpicked herbs in them. Crackers can be dehydrated. Turned out to be a great choice as people loved the dip. Some returned for seconds!
To balance it out, I also wanted to offer something sweet. How about raw vegan ice cream? After all, everyone loves ice cream. I regularly make and teach people how to make Bunga Telang Ice Cream so it's something different and cool.
Plus that would provide even more #EmbraceTheLame Moments such as:
Did the ice cream “blue” your mind?
In search of ways to chase away the blues? Have some blue ice cream.
Looking to chill out? How about some blue ice cream?
Blue Ice Cream, now that would be a conversation starter!
But how do you transport ice cream and keep it at an optimal temperature in this hot Malaysian weather? How do you pack it?
Then I thought perhaps I’d make raw cookies instead as there wouldn’t be a need to worry about melting ice cream (now that would totally give me the blues).
In the end, I served Chocolate Herbed Bliss Balls because apart from ice cream, loads of people love chocolate. That turned out to be a pretty good choice as some folks actually bought more to take home and one lady said she wanted to take them to the office the next day to munch on!
For drinks, I made flavoured water kefir as well as herb and fruit infusions with pretty names like Orange Sunshine. The tough part was transporting them as glass bottles are H-E-A-V-Y.
Oh ya, note to self: never go about picking herbs at two in the afternoon unless you want to end up with burnt skin and a bad headache. Mornings are way, way, way better.
Here’s a checklist of items to consider if you ever run a pop-up stall. This is nowhere near comprehensive but it’s some of the things that I had to think of when running my raw food stall.
- Recipe development
- Recipe testing
- Timelines - when to make food, especially the use of a dehydrator
- Menu - think about how to make it exciting
- Take away bags or containers
- Give out samples
- Cooler box & ice for drinks
- If you’re transporting drinks in glass bottles, remember these are really heavy and you may need a trolley
- Plates, cups, cutlery, napkins
- A team to help serve, collect money, keep track of items sold
- Always give yourself a buffer in terms of timing as things usually take longer than you expect
- Storage - allocate fridge and freezer space
- Ask for some speaking time to explain the benefits of raw food
A big thank you to the awesome rawsome team at Eats, Shoots & Roots who were super supportive of this venture. I’m especially grateful that Landscape Architect Khim helped to take care of the sales. A shoutout to my sis who helped serve everyone food. And thank you Shao-Lynn, Beatrice and Clarice for believing in the goodness of raw food. I also cannot forget all of you in the audience who decided to try out my drinks and snacks - feeling so blessed that I had a chance to share my raw food creations with the audience at the Secret Gardens Gig!
Would I do it again?
I thought I’d say ‘no’ but the real answer is ‘YES’ as I’ve been appointed as the “Food Wizard” at the upcoming Game On with Makespace experience.
I’m going to introduce yummy raw snacks to the gaming, anime and cosplay community on Friday, 30th September 2016 at Makespace, Kuala Lumpur - a funky, funky joint to get inspired and create. Think Pizza Powered Pepitas and Zelda’s Brownies and perhaps even an Xbox Controller Cake!