It was after doing a clay cleanse and fasting that Alive and Wild’s Vicki Veranese found herself scouring raw food porn and getting excited about a new way of ‘doing’ food, and the possibilities of making the flavour match the presentation.
‘At the time, I had (and still have) a school of consciousness and I would cater to the experientials, and people kept saying: wow, you should sell this deliciousness.’
This is when Vicki’s hobby became a business.
Varanese set up Alchemia in Byron in 2010 – the first of its kind at the time. ‘I remember doing nut mylk coffees and being told, “that won’t sell”. It was primarily takeaway with a small eat-in section. I was front-of-house a lot which really isn’t my bag – think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld – and I burnt out.’
Veranese relaunched under the name of Alive and Wild a couple of years ago after someone suggested to Santos that she was a great source of vegan cheese.
‘I supply Santos, and a few of the platter girls in the area, and people can buy direct from me on the website – and we have expanded into platters and pantry boxes too, it’s really opening up into a fun creative adventure.’
Vicki says she is being approached to stock businesses Australia-wide but says she is an artisan and doesn’t want to go into mass production.
‘I prefer the hands-on skilled craft of it all, and I want to make it something you get, or is associated with, “when you come to Byron”.’
Vicki loves the combination of art and alchemy in her food. ‘I love the look of someone tasting the food as it awakens a jaded palate or satisfies the “hangry” with a plant-based meal – it inspires and excites people to the variety and possibility of including more vegetables, and meat-and-dairy-free options, in their diet.’
Veranese makes fresh-to-order and uses high-quality ingredients. She makes most things from scratch and the recipes are original, so it’s usually something different from previous experiences or expectations people might have.
Vicki says she got busier with pantry boxes during the lockdown restrictions – she says it’s been an exciting time, inspiring lots of new ideas.
Recently Vicki has started a collaboration with Emily Read. ‘She is a powerhouse of creativity and enthusiasm, and is helping me in the kitchen and with the event planning of Plantgasm Gastronomy.’
You can either book Alive and Wild to create a unique luncheon at Retreats Byron Bay; featuring their plant-based menu, and added activities such as energy reading, tarot, astrology – a consciousness experiential – great for an intimate get together with friends, hens or a gaggle of goddesses, or they can deliver you a Plantgasm platter to add to your catering, or as the main event.
For more information visit the Alive and Wild website: www.aliveandwild.com.