Cheeky Chats: Chris Anca
Welcome to our new blog series, Cheeky Chats! We will be featuring a range of healthy Perth businesses, that we feel align with our philosophy of making healthy mean more. You can find out more about what being cheeky means to us here. In the meantime, let's jump in to our very first interview!
I had the privilege of chatting to Chris Anca, last week, the brains behind not one, but three, successful local businesses: raw dessert business, Raw by Chris; healthy eats and raw bits blog, Tales of a Kitchen; and vegan, whole food deli, Little Raw Deli. Chris is also the author of 'Nourishing Noodles - Spiralize Nearly 100 Plant-Based Recipes for Zoodles, Ribbons, and Other Vegetable Spirals’ , filled with gluten free and vegan recipes for all tastes and occasions.
If you haven't already been to The Little Raw Deli, it is a must visit, especially on pancake days (Thursdays and Saturdays!). It's loaded with healthy, delicious plant-based, whole foods, made from scratch. Located at 8/29 Archer Street, Carlisle. Open Monday to Saturday. Check their Facebook or Instagram feed for opening times and snaps of their latest creations.
Chris comes from a background of community development, working with the United Nations (UN) and not-for-profit organisations, working in disadvantaged communities around the World. But after discovering a passion for healthy food, the rest is, well, history.
First things first, pancake days at the Little Raw Deli have been a huge hit on social media. You can't scroll through Instagram without catching a photo of your gorgeous, healthy pancake stacks. What's your favourite flavour?
Our Christmas one, that just finished, it was amazing. I love everything we make with our fruit mince mix. But they're all really good, it just depends on what mood you're in, if you're looking for peanut butter or chocolate. But they're all really, really good. And we do have some amazing things planned for Easter and the following holidays so fingers crossed we might see our mince filling again.
Your life now is very different from your previous life working in the UN and for not-for-profit organisations, tell us more about how your move away from the corporate world in to food came about?
I moved to Australia and they don't have any UN offices here. I worked in corporate for about a year, in the CBD, working on "community projects" but it was basically a lot of paper pushing, ticking boxes and spending most of the day in a little cubical. It was really different to what I was doing before. That got old pretty fast, so I just decided to pursue another passion of mine, and here we are today.
But I am trying to bring some of my background to my business. I'm currently trying to transform the way we do business by putting social enterprise at the core of everything we do. I'm hoping to be able to share more on this in the future.
All of your products are made with vegan, plant based ingredients. Can you tell us more about why this is so important to you?
I'm really passionate about making healthy food affordable and accessible. I am vegan, that's why my businesses are vegan. I was vegetarian for a few years, when I started the business five years ago I was still eating honey and eggs occasionally; I have a friend whose sister has few chickens, so every now and then she would bring me some eggs. I've been vegan for a year and a bit now and as my ethics and values changed I've steered by business in the same direction.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to adopt a vegan lifestyle?
If it comes from the heart and aligns with who you are, nothing is really difficult. People need to look at why? Are you doing because it's trendy? Do you feel it's better for your health? Are you doing it for ethical reasons? Really look at and try to understand why you’re doing it, because if you make a decision based on the right reasons and a really strong foundation, then it's bound to last.
I think a lot of people these days, have a really problematic relationship with food, there’s so many do’s and dont’s out there, rules about what’s good or ‘bad’ for you, people telling other people what they should or shouldn’t eat, which is why I wouldn't add to that. Whatever decision one makes should align with who they are. Look into what it means to eat vegan food and lead a vegan lifestyle, try to understand. If it doesn't resonate with you, then maybe don't even try it, because it can lead to guilt and other issues.
If it does come from the heart, and you really want to try it, then I would say to take baby steps. If you're going to change 180 degrees overnight and go cold turkey on everything, it's might end up being really hard. You're going to struggle to make sense of everything; when you go shopping; with your family and friends; and every other purchase or social situation.
If you just make tiny little steps, maybe you cut out meat for a while and try to adjust to that, find substitutions, find some new recipes and then cut out a bit of dairy, a bit of eggs and just trying to reduce. I've found that's the best way to do it. That's what worked for me and I did it over a few years. Be realistic and just let it happen naturally.
Running not one, but three, growing businesses is no mean feat. What's the secret to managing a successful, multi-faceted enterprise?
Coffee and good sleep! And having a good team. It took me years to find really good people, who care about what they're doing - who not only want to be part of the team but want to build the team and bring their own skills, their own knowledge and their own ideas to make something beautiful. That's really important. And really good time management skills.
I guess it goes back to if you're doing something from the heart, then it really doesn't feel like work.
Being a busy entrepreneur it must be hard to catch some down time. When you do, what's your favourite way to practice a little self care?
Down time, what's down time? I guess it depends, it's something different all the time, for example on Saturday we went out to the outdoor movies with my ladies, so that was really nice. Sometimes it's running, sometimes it's yoga. I've never been to a gym in my life, but lately I've had this energy and craving to go to the gym and punch something. It all depends what my body feels like doing, I just go with it. Sometimes I feel like stretching, breathing and relaxing. Sometimes I feel like a good cardio & sweat session. Or maybe a bit of weights.
Last but not least, what can we expect in 2018?
Cooking classes – we’ll be doing something very different that builds on our strengths, on what our team knows and loves to do best. Some of the topics I haven't seen anywhere else, it's going to be exciting. And definitely more pancakes! We have some more exciting flavours planned.
We are always trying to innovate. We're always asking what else can we do? What else hasn't been done before? I find that exciting. While, there are some products that sell really well, so we do those ones over and over again, I really believe that work shouldn't be boring or repetitive, and to whatever extent we can we allocate time to play in the kitchen and invent new recipes and flavours. It's always nice to let my team get creative every now and then to do some new things that they love.
So there's definitely going to be some new products, some new pancakes, some new directions on where we are going to take the business. Hopefully there is going to be enough hours in the day to make it all happen.