#PlatedPlanet | Live Organic Food Bar

livefoodshot Toronto certainly has witnessed its share of food trends over the past decade, but the number of real trend-setters is of course much more select. Live Food Bar launched in 2002 in a cozy nook of the Yellow Brick Road Wellness Clinic on Dupont, at a time when raw foodism was completely unknown to Torontonians. From that original tiny juice bar, founders – and siblings – Christopher and Jennifer Italiano have evolved an internationally recognized restaurant and helped to bring raw food into the world lexicon of gourmet cuisine. Jennifer and Christopher grew up in Corso Italia at St. Clair and Dufferin. Their father was born in Calabria, but their mother is a Montreal-native of mixed Ukrainian and British heritage. Simple, honest, but eclectic meals were the norm at home.  According to Jennifer, her mother, Susan, was an intuitive cook, who never owned a cookbook. Not coincidentally, at the time Live began serving its first customers, only one raw food cookbook had ever been published. Jennifer, the culinary visionary behind Live Food Bar’s clean, vegan, raw and gluten free offerings, was creating – through trial and error, and often with her mother’s help – an utterly original menu. Jennifer is a big fan of tapas-style eating, where a number of sides creates an entrée. “I like to eat a little bit of a lot,” she told me. This gastronomic style inspired her signature Raw Combo Plate: an ever-changing collection of four beautiful raw dishes, such as lasagna, pizza, portobello steak, tostada and manicotti. Her Italian heritage (as channeled through her mother’s cooking), shines through in Jennifer’s bold use of seasoning, something I find especially fascinating as each dish almost deconstructs itself on the tongue, so that one encounters even familiar flavours anew. Another staple from the cooked portion of the menu, Burritos, feature black beans or tasty, rarely-encountered burdock. There really is something for everyone. In its early days the restaurant functioned as an epicentre for the just-emerging raw and vegan community, in part because it was the only place in town catering to this lifestyle and in part because the food was as exciting as it was delicious. In 2003, a 5-star review in NOW magazine put Live on the radar of all Toronto foodies  – herbivore, carnivore and omnivore alike.  With success came growth. Live moved into a full service restaurant a few doors down from the original location on Dupont in 2005. In 2010, the Live production kitchen was launched in the west end. Here Christopher manages a small team that create healthy dishes and snacks for purchase at retail outlets throughout the GTA. Fast forward to May 2013 and the expansion continues. Live opened in the bourgeoning Liberty Village district with a fresh and distinctive focus on take out. Catering to a hip grab-and-go consumer, Live Market carries a selection of fresh juices, meals and snacks under their own brand, Live Organic Raw, plus offerings from other local food purveyors. Now firmly on-trend, the Italianos continue to lead the way. Checkout Live Organic Food Bar on Dupont Street or in Liberty Village Visit Website  

Plated Planet, with Natalie Singer

Natalie Singer - Head shot #2Plated Planet Badge
Natalie Singer is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, food & lifestyle writer and a former world traveler. She has worked in the natural products industry for 16 years and sells organic, fair trade and gluten free gourmet gifts online: www.pushcartpantry.com

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