After reading Jenny Nelson's blog summary of our weekend in New York, I'm not sure what's left to be said. However, I will try to put into my own words what I came away with and how the experiences of the weekend deeply impacted me. I've been into the raw food "scene" for just under three years now, but this was my first real exposure to "raw community." It was also my first significant raw event of this kind.
Friday started with my arrival at Newark Airport and as I was dashing to catch the train to Manhattan I literally ran into Ann Curry. I mean we smacked right into each other and exchanged excuse me's and went about our ways. That buzz happily fueled me as rode the train into Penn Station, which, by the way, is a smart, affordable ($15) and efficient way to get into the city if you don't have too much luggage. Once into Manhattan, I dropped my bags at the hotel, and darted down into the subway for a quick ride to Union Square, which put me only a couple of blocks from my ultimate mission - Pure Juice and Takeaway. I ordered Sarma's pick of the day and I couldn't tell you now what it had in it but I grabbed it guzzled it down as I ran back off into the city. I meandered my way over to Bonobo's, which was just a brisk walk away, and there I ordered their famous Gingerade, which is alkalized water, lemon, lime, agave nectar and fresh grated ginger....really great stuff! I got enough to stock my hotel frig for the duration of my stay. Once back at my hotel, it was time to change and get ready to go dinner with the We Like It Raw Crew and the lovely Ms. Karen Knowler, Successfully Raw's keynote speaker. Meeting everyone in person for the first time at Pure Food & Wine was like a dream come true for me. In attendance were Dhrumil, Philip, Karen, Dawn, and DJ Kim - owner of Washington D.C.'s Java Green Organic Eco Cafe. It was such a memorable evening....one of the best ever.
I awoke on Saturday to a beautiful, crisp, sunny day. How I love waking to the sounds of New York! Once ready, I downed some Gingerade and headed up the few blocks to the West Side Loft for the main event, Successfully Raw! Once inside I met Britanie of Raw Faith and her mother. What sweethearts! I have been following Britanie's raw journey for sometime and it was a pleasure to finally meet her in person. I ended up sitting next to the most lovely woman, Michelle. We exchanged conversation throughout the breaks and, Michelle.....if you happen to be reading this, please stay in contact with me! I want to keep in touch and know what happens in your life! I suspect big things are coming for you!! Anyway....the first speaker was the delightful Karen Knowler...England's first lady of raw food. Karen captivated the audience with her wisdom and grace and she spoke seamlessly for about 2 hours regarding the importance of understanding that being raw is a whole person journey. She shared that going raw and staying raw (at whatever level is right for the individual) is about balancing mind, body, spirit and emotions. Eating raw is not a magic bullet and she detailed the steps to going raw and staying raw, the 7 circles of raw support and the 5 stages of raw transformation. Karen's lecture, along with the others, will soon be available through the We Like It Raw website. My favorite thing Karen said was this, "What you are seeking is also seeking you."
Then Joel Odhner, personal chef to Oprah's medical comrade, Dr. Mehmet Oz, took the stage and created some fantastically simple recipes that he so generously shared with the audience. He believes that having an arsenal of simple to prepare recipes is the key to successfully staying raw and I couldn't agree more. Joel did a beautiful massaged kale salad, a great green smoothie and he showed how to create a base for raw burgers that can be put into your frig that will keep for days. I learned something from Joel I didn't know.....he said besides being the highest on the chain of super food antioxidants, goji berries are a complete protein. That's good news for vegetarians and vegans looking for ways to increase their protein.
At this point there was a break for lunch which was catered by Jill Pettijohn of Jill's Cafe in Brooklyn. Everyone was oooing and ahhing and I must say it looked incredible. I, however, slipped into the back where the sweet Philip and Dhrumil had juice specially brought in for me. By this point I was really ready for something and the freshly pressed apple hit the spot! There was also a sampling table set up by the gorgeous Vanessa of Gnosis Chocolates. I so wanted a bit of her glorious indulgence, but I simply lived vicariously through my seat mates who were in cacao heaven, Michelle and DJ.
The last portion of the day was devoted to the magnificent three; Philip McCluskey, Anthony Anderson and Dhrumil Purohit. Each of them had something unique and meaningful to bring to the audience and although the event was starting to run a bit over, no one minded as everyone seemed to hang on every word that was spoken by each. Philip recounted his journey which ultimately brought him to raw foods, his loss of nearly 200 pounds and the connection between food and emotion. Anthony, the raw model, hilariously shared his own personal journey with raw foods and his coming to terms with what works and what doesn't and then finally, Dhrumil brought everything together as he spoke regarding the spiritual importance of taking the time to fall still throughout the day and to truly understand what it means to be present and consciously connected to every moment we have and how eating raw foods helps to create a clarity which makes being present more tangible.
Once the event came to a close, about 20 of us journeyed back to Pure Food & Wine for a VIP after party dinner. Another extraordinary dining experience and I must admit that my devotion to this juice feast was certainly tested as one raw dish being served was more spectacular than the next. I have to tell you that the company was also at it's finest. You can view all my photographs from the weekend and dinners here. Once finished with dining, we all traveled over to 17th & 10th to hot night club called The Park to dance the night away. It's been a long time since I came home from a night out at 3:30 pm, but the fun I had with this hip entourage was certainly worth missing a few hours of sleep!
My final day in Manhattan was a perfect ending to a magical trip. Around noon, Karen and I took the subway back to Pure Juice & Takeaway for more coconut water and a Thai Green juice. Spending time with her was the greatest gift to me. She is almost angelic in her appearance and she certainly lives the life she so splendidly teaches. From there, we walked to meet up with Dhrumil at Jubb's Longevity. I can't really put into words how much of a trippy place this is, but the "chef" made a special broth for me that he said would be ideal for a juice feaster. I know they were putting some serious juju in their creations, but I drank it down and was happy to have had experienced it. When in New York you must go and check it out.
And that was it. Dhrumil was most kind to volunteer to drop me off at the airport before he returned back home. Being in his presence isn't something I can really articulate. He has the most special spirit of anyone I've ever been around. There is a wisdom that goes way beyond that of a 25 year old and his genuine love, transparency and authenticity is highly rare. The inspiration and subtle passion he stirs in people is contagious and he is a master at the art of facilitating community. Although he doesn't think this of himself, because his ego is always in check, but take my word for it....he's a really big deal. I know he has and will continue to do great things.