Interview with Terces and Matthew Engelhart by Megan Faulkner
Cafe Gratitude - San Francisco
I have always been a healthy eater, I am a vegetarian and try to be conscious of getting a fairly good balance of fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet, one of my favorite places to eat in Sydney is IKU for it’s creative raw and macrobiotic meals.
Since moving to San Francisco I have really appreciated it’s focus on sourcing local produce, much of it organically grown. I was intrigued when I first visited Cafe Gratitude, a cafe dedicated to healthy vegan and raw food meals, drinks and delicious desserts.
However, as I have discovered there is so much more to the ‘Cafe Gratitude’ phenomenon than just the food, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to interview the founders of Cafe Gratitude, Matthew and Terces Engelhart.
Tell ‘Gorgeous Things’ readers about the philosophy behind Cafe Gratitude?
Matthew Engelhart I met Terces in September 2000, and about six months later we realised we wanted to have a life together, our children were grown. We said “what’s this life going to look like that we’re going to create”, and we somehow concluded that “how about we just live our life from inner guidence”.
It’s not about strategising how to get to the beach with a Pina Colada and a retirement nest egg, but what if we just followed inner guidence and surrendered to that.
One of the first insights we got was to invent a board game. This board game was to train people in what we call ‘the being of abundence’, to extract people from the ‘scarcity paradigm’, not enough money, not enough time, not enough beauty, not enough love, not enough, not enough, not enough….that human beings have found themselves in.
So we spent a year kind of just sitting down at a blank canvas so to speak, with some dice and some index cards, and we spent a year creating this game. About a year into that we got the idea to develop a workshop around the game, to write a book around the game, then finally because we saw how difficult it was to inspire people to take time to do a workshop…everyone has to eat, lets have a gaming parlour where people come and have coffee, eat a croissant and play this game.
In the mean time we tried to experiment with a raw food diet on Terces insight. We tried it for thirty days and felt so good and so alive, and so clear that we said “Oh I guess it’s going to be a raw food gaming parlour. I would say that’s the humble beginnings.
So the Cafe actually started out of the game?
Terces Engelhart Yes, we created the game first
And the name of the game is…?
ME ‘The Abounding River’. That game and there is also a book with a 42 day practice in it that are for sale on Amazon and CafeGratitude.com.
Is a raw food diet safe?
ME I think in the United States we’re kind of beyond that. I think that used to happen a bit, but I don’t hear that much any more.
TE And I would say, we’re not even saying eat one hundred percent raw food. We’re saying add more raw food to you’re diet, and everyone is saying that that knows anything about health, eat more fruits, eat more vegetables, eat less meat, eat less dairy, eat less processed food. That’s kind of accepted, and we make raw food so delicious that it’s very easy to incorporate it into your diet.
We’d be happy if people, you know, chose raw food as another genre for eating, like italian tonight, thai tomorrow, raw food on Wednesday, you know…, and started to include it. It’s not so much just the food for us as it is the whole experience. Here’s what the benefit of raw food is.., you’re clearer, you’re more present, because you’re body’s not having to work so hard to transform the food into energy. The food is closer to it’s original energy source, so it’s just easier to digest.
Now, I’m not saying go eat a whole bunch of nut based foods. If you looked at Matthew, and my diet, or most people who eat a lot of raw food, they eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in their, you know, natural state. So you’re just clearer, you’re more present, you’re more available to be used for something meaningful in life, is the benefit of raw food.
You have way more energy, you have to sleep less. Raw food you eat less, because you get more nutrition.
ME We all know this. Now, we have Thanksgiving here, I don’t think you have Thanksgiving, but you have the ‘Barbie’ right? So, notice how you feel after a big barbie, like a barbeque. That’s a certain experience, right, not good, not bad.
Notice how you feel after a salad, a really, really fresh salad. Two completely different experiences. One the body is groaning to process what you’ve just put in it. You know after Thanksgiving here in the United States, every one just kind of crashes on the couch, falls asleep and watches football and goes comatose. It’s the same thing, raw food doesn’t require the same amount of energy to process, so you have more energy to live you’re life.
Are there particular things that women should be aware of if they want to focus more on a raw food diet?
TE Well, you know, what I would recommend is you want to have…, I would start with juicing. You want to increase the nutrition that you’re getting, and decrease a lot of the empty foods that we’re eating.
I would say, being a woman, for me the most important thing is lots of great juice, and I also think wheatgrass is a great addition to a diet, and I would stay away from alot of really dense nut based dishes. There’s a lot of nuts in a lot of raw food recipies, and I think you want to stay away from eating too many of those. Some is great, but too many of them you don’t want to eat. Then I would say…
ME …And when she means juice, she means leaning towards chlorophyll juices, green juice, not like super sweet fruit juice…fruit juice is great but celery, cucumber, kale, parsley, chlorophyll, chorophyll, chlorophyll.
TE …not all carrot juice or orange juice.
Where does your understanding of nutrition and healthy eating come from?
TE Well mine comes from, kind of coming backwards, I was originally, in college part of my education was nutrition. For me really it came from, I had an eating disorder so I kind of was fascinated always with food and nutrition, but from the side of trying to manipulate it. I was also an athlete, and so we were also taught to really manipulate our bodies for energy with food.
My mother was educated in nutrition, but again that was nutrition of the fifites, which is not the nutrition of today. Then I would say personal experience, and what we read, what we’re presented with in all the…you know people who come through with products and ideas. I wouldn’t consider myself a nutritional expert, I personally think there is so much conflicting information about nutrition, that it’s better for people to get to know their own body and listen to their own body…it’s pretty amazing that…
ME Yeah, one’s body is one’s expert
TE It’s pretty amazing, we know there’s more information about how to take care of a car than how to take care of your body. There’s more agreement for the car. So I think people need to learn their own body, and trust themselves, because all of us have different backgrounds and your body has adapted to how you were raised and the foods you’ve eaten and how well you take care of it. A body is amazingly resiliant.
Can you share any of your favorite recipes?
TE Well I like icecream, so icecream is one of my favorite sweets in the cafe. Then I would say I think we do and amazing job of the cheeses that we offer, most of those are cashew based, I think those are amazing. Things that people feel like, if they have to go on a diet there’s some ‘loss’, so I think it’s easy to incorporate those. Then I would say, there’s the ‘I am grace’ smoothie, which has been around since the beginning of time, same as the coconut cream pie, both of those are coconut items. I like our yoghurt, I think our yoghurt’s amazing, coconut yoghurt. I like a lot of our food.
ME There’s two recipe books available on our website. One’s just desserts and one is most of the recipes for Cafe Gratitude.
TE One’s called ‘I am Grateful’ and the other one’s called ‘Sweet Gratitude’.
Any future pursuits that you’re working on related to the Cafe?
TE Cafe Gratitude is expanding, it’s still in the growth mode. As much as we all resist that. More? Take on more? You must be kidding. So it’s still in growth mode and we’re also opening up ‘Gracias Madre’, which is a new concept. It’s organic vegan mexican, and it will utilise all the raw cheeses and dairy and all that. It’s not stricly raw though. That will open up in November.
…And in terms of ‘The Abounding River’, do you see that going in any other direction?
ME We’re just doing the second printing of the game. We’re leading workshops, we’ve led them in Mexico, led them in Canada,…all over the United States. So where ever there’s a demand, there’s conversation about having one in London, in Phuket Thailand. We lead three workshops, one about ‘Sacred Commerce’, one’s ‘The Abounding River’ which is about the being of abundance, and the other is called ‘Kindered Spirit’ which is our relationship workshop.
In the ‘Sacred Commerce’ workshop, who are you normally working with? Do you go into organisations?
ME Either way. Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we go to them.
TE We host them at least once a month and we often go to other organisations and they sponsor us.
ME And now what’s really new is, we’re training ‘trainers’ so that there’s people that can consult and go out in the world and lead these workshops and we don’t have to be there, in fact we’re having a training tomorrow.
And do you run those trainings?
TE We do.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
For me it’s not just the food it’s the philosophy, and the philosophy is that you get to create your experience of life based where you put your attention. That it’s not just your circumstances. And so I think for us it’s the combination of, if you’re gonna clean up you’re life, then I would say purify your diet, but purify your thoughts as well. Think happy things.
More information about the workshops, game and food can be found on the Cafe Gratitude website, www.cafegratitude.com.
By the way readers the coconut icecream is amazing. Although my recipie hunting skills are as yet unsuccessful I can share with you another of my favorite raw dessert recipes (you really can’t believe how good these are, and so easy to make).
Carob Walnut Biscuits
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup raw carob powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Combine raisins, walnuts, carob powder, and salt in a food processor. Process until dough starts sticking together. Press dough into any biscuit cutter or shape you like on a tray lined with baking paper. Place tray in the freezer to chill and firm up for 30 minutes or more before transferring to the fridge. Thaw 5 minutes before serving.
The future depends on what we do in the present. – Mahatma Gandhi what we do in the present. – Mahatma Gandhi