The Raw Foods Evolution

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Raw food at Quintessence

The phrase "raw veganism" conjures sobering thoughts of a life of eating only bread, carrots and celery. But Dan Hoyt, the chef and owner of the East Village raw vegan restaurant Quintessence, offers a menu of the contrary: burritos, curry, sushi and gnocchi. Clad in designer jeans, with a fitted black blazer and some aviators, he's more New York metro than vegan hippie. "We [Americans] want to 'cure' everything," he said.

"All you need to do is to stop poisoning yourself" and eliminate "unnatural and processed foods."

"Raw" vegans eat only fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts - no soy, dairy or meat - and nothing is cooked over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature at which all the natural enzymes in food remain intact.

Hoyt wasn't always such a health nut. He grew up eating hamburgers in Michigan, and came to New York in 1985 to pursue a music career. He headed down the path of raw veganism after a colleague recommended the lifestyle to his then girlfriend Tolentin Chan, who suffered from chronic illness and yeast infections.

There were few raw vegan cookbooks or restaurant options back then, so Hoyt began researching vegan philosophy and eventually opened a restaurant.

Together, Hoyt and Chan converted his music studio on East 10th Street into Quintessence. Within a month, the lines were out the door.

"You don't have to be healthy to like my food," says Hoyt. "That was my trick to stay in business."

Unlike most New York raw vegan restaurants, Quintessence offers a diverse menu of Italian, Mexican, Indian and Japanese dishes that changes twice a year.

Hoyt and Chan eventually opened two branches on the Upper East Side, but both were closed after a highly publicized incident in 2004 in which Hoyt was arrested for masturbating on a subway.

But that didn't stop him; Hoyt continues to educate those who don't know the benefits of raw veganism. "It's sad that the medical services laugh it off," he said. "This can really save your life, the environment and the world."

-- by Lisa Kim

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Best Regards,

Mike Snyder

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