In the Market: An Interview with Scott Harris of Viva RawJune 1, 2018 11:24 am
At Viva Raw, Scott Harris embraces raw food. And you’d be cold-pressed to find a better ambassador for this culinary movement. Scott is always on the go, and so, I was grateful that he could take the time to sit down with me and discuss the science of raw food, his relationships with other market owners, and what is on the horizon for Viva Raw.
What does a “raw” diet mean?
The key temperature is 118°—when food is not exposed to temperatures above that, it is considered ‘raw.’ The key thing there is, above 118°, different nutrients and enzymes start to break down and degrade. But, below 118°, all those nutrients stay intact. That’s why we do what is called ‘cold-press’ for the juices—to extract all the juices without damaging the nutrients. The large, commercial juicing companies heat the juice so they can get a nice, long shelf life. But in the process of doing that, they destroy a lot of the vitamin C. So, you are left with basically sugar water. The nutrition label might say that it has 100% of the recommended allowance of vitamin C, and it might have had it at one point, but by the time it is heated and sat on the shelf for months, there’s very little, if any vitamin C left in it. It may have a synthetic form of vitamin C that they added back, but those synthetic forms are not as well-absorbed into the body. Bottom line, is keep it very simple—and very fresh.
What are some of the benefits of a raw food diet?
If you’re eating a raw food diet, you’re probably eating a lot of plants. And that is one of our big messages that we try to convey to our customers—the importance of including more plant-based foods into your diet. We’re not here to preach veganism but I think most people can benefit from incorporating more plant-based foods into our diets. Plants have the widest array of vitamins and minerals. No doctor ever said ‘eat fewer plants,’ right?
If I’m a busy Uptown resident, or commuter in Uptown, and at times find it difficult to eat the proper amount of green vegetables, is there a raw juice diet you would recommend for someone who stays busy and on-the-go?
Green Harvest—it’s mostly greens: kale, collards, cucumber, celery, and parsley—and a little bit of apple and lemon to balance out the taste.
How did your vegan dinners evolve within the market?
We’ve done two with Zia Pia and one with Orrman’s so far. Zia Pia did an amazing alfredo using our garlic and chive cheese. José, from Orrman’s, did a risotto using one of our cheeses. It’s a nice, sit-down dinner that is all plant-based. And it’s three businesses in the market, coming together to offer this elegant, well-thought out meal. Assorted Table does an amazing job of pairing the courses. We’ll go to them a few weeks before the dinner, let them taste all the foods, they’ll come back and say, ‘here are the wines.’
How has the 7th Street Public Market supported you as a small business owner?
We’ve been here just over six years. It’s been great. I can’t say enough good things about it. It was a great place to start—in part because a lot of us started out together. We were able to support each other through all the growing pains and the trials and tribulations of getting a small business together. You don’t know what ‘challenging’ is until you start a small business. To be doing this in a space with other like-minded small business owners was really, really helpful. Not just in terms of morale, but in sharing information—best practices for processing payroll, or exchanging information on good CPAs to use, or good business attorneys. That’s not a part of the market that the public gets to see, but it very much has happened.
Is there a juice or particularly exciting recipe you are working on right now?
We will be bringing back our watermelon cheese soon, which is always a very popular seasonal one. Right now we’re wrapping up the strawberry almond milk. But the thing I’m most excited about is another variety of our cheeses—it’s going to be a plant-based cream cheese.
Scott’s new cream cheese will be unaged, spreadable, and full of probiotics. We can’t wait. But in the next newsletter, I will see what wine Josh Villapando, owner of Assorted Table, pairs with Viva Raw’s garlic and chive cashew cheese—four of my favorite words in one food. Then, Josh and I will discuss his collaborative efforts within the market as well as a brand-new article featured in Cigars & Leisure magazine. —Ben Jarrell