Interview by Ariane Tavakol I Discover Out Loud
Written by Ariane Tavakol
I met Alexandra a few years ago when she was still part of the Swiss Bankers’ Club. She was then in her twenties and already so successful and grounded. We were never very close but enjoyed seeing each-other at our friends’ gatherings.
A few years went by and Alex decided, against all odds and public opinion to drastically change her life. She was young, beautiful and thriving but something wasn’t right. If she didn’t quit, she would fall prey to society’s expectations and undoubtedly experience a burn out.
I’m not sure how much strength it really took for her to act on her thoughts but what I know is that she did it! She quit her job and embarked on a journey of self-discovery and ultimately triumph.
Today, two years later, Alex is all over the local news and belongs now to the “disrupters”, “innovators” culinary Club!
So for five days, I went on an Eat by Alex clean eating program and this is what I found. First, let me preface by saying that I’m not foreign to clean eating, on the contrary. I’m used to eating this way so it wasn’t a big stretch to follow this regimen. What challenged me the most was removing my usual five’o’clock snack. But that was all in my mind because in the end I felt full the entire time.
Two surprises await you if you continue reading til the end (and no skipping!)
FIVE DAY LEAN PROGRAM
Every day began with an encouraging text message alongside tips and answers to frequently asked questions. Each day ended with the menu for the following day (always different) with some additional information – about specific ingredients, the packaging or common side effects.
I was a bit nervous getting into this program about feeling hungry and having major cravings. To my surprise neither really happened. The meals were quite generous and so flavorful that I never felt like I was missing something.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention the best part! Each afternoon around 5pm, my meals would be delivered to me … like a birthday gift that keeps on giving.
Here’s an example of one menu. You can see how creative and diverse it is. Every day brought a new surprise.
LET’S HAVE A CHAT WITH ALEX
Tell me how it all began?
I was working in banking and thought how much it was missing creativity. I decided to leave my job and take the time necessary to find myself and discover what I would like to do.
I always wanted to spend time Los Angeles but not as a tourist and just do yoga everyday, shopping… I wanted to find a purpose for my trip there. Then as I was searching around I came across Matthew Kenney’s cooking class in Venice. It was exactly what I wanted. Something completely different which I had never even considered before – all plant based, raw cooking.
So I went for it! What better than that! Be in Los Angeles, learn something new and exciting and meet new people.
In total I ended up doing 4-5 months but not all spent in LA. A lot of the courses were online. When I came back I didn’t really know what to do so I started organising pop-ups and quickly I realised that it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t interested in having a restaurant. As I dug deeper I realised more and more the lack of healthy options in Zurich. It’s not easy to find good food on the go. Even the salads weren’t healthy.
There were a lot of discussions about juicing at that time but I personally never got into juicing . I tried but really didn’t like it – too much work and hard on my body.
So what about I create something with real food you can chew? Nutritious food using only plant based ingredients. Not raw but all natural and freshly prepared every day.
Did anyone tell you were crazy to leave your job? How did most people react to your decision? Did you find yourself constantly having to explain yourself?
Oh yes! So my goal became to keep them quiet by making them jealous! I would always say that i’m busy traveling, seeing friends … At that time I didn’t even know myself what I wanted to do. My parents kept asking me “but what are you going to do? You left your amazing job!” I would tell them that yes I left my job but I’m young, creative, smart and can do other things with my life. I don’t need to be stuck in a job that I don’t like for the rest of my life.
I needed time to think. My mom kept asking me and I kept telling her that i simply had no idea otherwise she’d be the first one to know.
That was in February 2018! In March I started testing with my family and friends. I would cook at home and personally drop off the orders by bike. Then in June I created my company EATbyalex. Now here we are!
Was there a time when you felt scared and unsure about your decision?
NEVER! At the very beginning, I remember seeing my husband go to work early in the morning and it felt strange staying home. I felt a bit guilty. But actually I needed that time.
You never looked back?
I can see how most people are trained to thinking a certain way and looking for security. They may be miserable but they get that pay check.
How do you come up with your menu? Where do you find your inspiration?
I just love to create new and clever ways of doing things. For example these days I’m obsessed with Matcha and trying to find ways to create a good Matcha. I have this Espresso machine and I decided to put Matcha instead of coffee to see what it would taste like. It was the BEST Matcha ever, just like an Americano but without the coffee.
As for my recipes I get inspired by the seasonal products that are available. My creativity process starts with colours then flavours. I visualize in my head the right combinations then start playing around with them.
How do you come up with these unique ingredients? Is it something you learned in school?
I still try to remain local, at least as much as possible. Cacao for example is not from Switzerland, or Acai, Mesquite. But besides that I’m very curious and play around with ingredients. I just have to remember the flavors and decide whether I need to include them or not.
Is it easy to find those ingredient?
How do you make sure to always keep yourself up-to-date with trends and new ingredients?
You must travel, read, see what others do.
For example, when it comes to sweeteners we have been taught to use Algave. But why not use our local ingredients? I use birnel, a Swiss sweetener made from pears and apple syrup made from apples.
Is this program also meant for people who are looking to lose weight?
For me the goal isn’t to lose weight but if you get into clean eating you’ll most likely end up seeing a difference in your body. But that is just a nice bi-product of the program. It’s more about having healthy options brought to you and entice your curiosity and palate.
Since it’s a program after all, it’ll be a challenge – less snacking.
Our portions are not small at all, between 400-500 grams, and all whole foods (fibre still present). Everything is made in house.
This program is Vegan. Do you eat meat?
I consider myself a Flexitarian. I eat mainly plant but there are times where I like to splurge as long as it’s good quality.
I’m working on lowering my dairy consumptions. I try to find natural ways to compensate.
What are you’re working on now?
Right now I just want to reach more people and show them that they can too have access to healthy food. I’ll have workshops here.
I want to create a new day package (bast, lunch and snack). That way they can be free to go out at night while their lunch is covered.