CULIRAW - Guilt-Free Vegan Desserts
Guilt-Free desserts that Happen to be Vegan! Few would argue that New York City is a foodie paradise without peer. Featuring diverse cuisines that run the gamut from Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Thai and Japanese to Tex-Mex and Southern soul food the Big Apple has it all.
The city was also at the forefront of both the vegetarian and vegan movement, which totally changed how we look at food.
New York is where dozens of celebrity chefs first established their reputations, going from anonymity, while toiling endless hours in an obscure restaurant's kitchen to establishing their own brand and achieving success on the Food Network.
NYC-based chefs life Momofuku's David Chang, Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli and Joe and Lidia Bastianich did not find success by following trends.
Often defying what was popular at the time, these trailblazing chefs pushed the envelope, took chances with innovative recipes and carved out their own identity. and niche.
Now, a new generation of chefs and hospitality entrepreneurs are making inroads
on the NYC culinary scene,re-defining trends while bringing you delectable, game-changing recipes.
Foremost among these newcomers is Culiraw, a Vegan brand that is definitely not for vegans only!
The heart and soul behind Culiraw; Katerina Justova and Silvia Vidova have worked for years perfecting their craft.
These ladies' mission in the kitchen is to make your life taste better and fill your days with flavor. It's as pure and simple as that.
Come on; let's be real. We all love dessert and probably indulge in sweet treats much more than we should. It's hard to resist temptation, especially when it's staring you in the face, on a restaurant table, in a bakery window, or on your apartment's kitchen counter!
Who among us hasn't, at one time or another, combed through our local supermarket's circular, searching for the next, long-awaited Entenmann's Bakery sale?
But, the rueful reckoning comes soon after you've eaten that last luscious slice of chocolate fudge cake or finished off more than a few chocolate chip cookies.
And let's not get started on all of the delectable brownies, cupcakes and pies that we've consumed in our lifetime.
Once you've polished off a rich, decadent dessert at lunch or dinner, (or both!), it doesn't take long for that satisfied smile to fade and the guilt to kick in. Not to mention that rather bloated, sickly feeling that's starting to take hold in your tummy.
Who needs that?
Mother did warn us about the perils inherent in eating too many sweets. Sugar overload is forever lurking in the wings, just waiting for that lack of willpower to manifest itself.
Life, though, is too short for regrets or, for that matter, denying yourself dessert!
Yes, you heard that right. There's no need to forgo the pleasure of a sweet ending to your meal or some serious snacking while you binge-watch Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Cultural has got your back when it comes to guilt-free desserts that are indulgent and delicious, but without all of the flour, sugar, dairy and artificial ingredients that you'll find in most store-bought cakes, cookies and pies. Yes, even those purchased at your local artisan bakery.
When you indulge with Culiraw, you'll find that your sweet tooth has more than met its' match. And, get this; no more empty calories! This is dessert the way it should be!
Culiraw is proud to be a vegan brand that is accessible to everyone.
Raw vegan desserts are made of natural, better for you ingredients that maintain all of their nutritional values and benefits. You can satisfy those cravings for sweets, yet nourish your body at the same time.
And Culiraw's scrumptious offerings are as Instagram-worthy as it gets. Chef Katerina's cakes and pies are so picturesque, you won't want to cut them up. Until that is, you can't resist the temptation any longer and you just HAVE to grab a slice.
The cake's flavors and colors pop!
Who says that you CAN'T have it all? Not Culiraw's Katerina and Silvia, that's for sure!
Whether it's original recipes created by Katerina or vegan versions of timeless favorites, Culiraw has a dessert with your name on it.
There is a tremendous amount of variety on offer, from scrumptious carrot cake, cashew caramel fudge, raspberry chocolate cake, strawberry chocolate cake and Culiraw's outrageous "cheesecake" to their to-die-for peanut butter cups.
Be on the lookout for sensational new flavors and creations like strawberry cupcakes, matcha cupcakes and limited-edition seasonal favorites such as pumpkin pie, which is currently available.
You can also look forward to an oil-free chocolate Mousse which should be ready for tasting any day now!
Getting hungry? We thought so!
If you are looking for a quick and easy on-the-go snack during the day or after your gym workout, then check out Culiraw's energizing almond cookie bar or carob pistachio bar.
These bars also have everything you need to get your day off to a great start, especially if you're running late and haven't got time for breakfast.
When you purchase any of Culiraw's delectable delights, you won't have to worry about not being able to pronounce the ingredients on the label.
Katerina and Silvia's creations are made with wholesome ingredients like cashews, walnuts, dates, cacao and coconut oil.
They'll also spice things up with a touch of vanilla, cinnamon or heaps of harvest-fresh fruit to bring out the one of a kind flavor that has become Culiraw's signature.
As an added nutritional boost, you'll find matcha, maca, goji, chia seeds and acai in Culiraw's tantalizing line-up of raw, vegan treats.
In case you're not familiar with goji berries, they are one of the most powerful antioxidant foods on planet earth. With a uniquely sweet taste, goji berries possess an abundant vitamin and mineral content.
You'll get plenty of Vitamin C and A when you eat these super-berries, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.
To sweeten things up, the team uses agave or maple syrup in some of their products, as well as a gentle touch of love that is always welcome.
So, as you can see, with Culiraw, there's no need to compromise your diet or lifestyle.
Culiraw is a true American success story if there ever was one. Both Katerina and Silvia came to NYC from their respective homelands, looking to carve out their slice of the American dream. Like so many immigrants before them, Katerina and Silvia were attracted by the energy and promise of the Big Apple.
Katerina: " I grew up in the Czech Republic. I am a small-town girl who was forever wanting to open my own bakery and cafe where people could enjoy my desserts. I was always fascinated by the art of dessert-making."
Silvia: "I was born and raised in Slovakia. Prior to moving to NYC, I lived out on Long Island for around five years, managing various restaurants. I was starting to get a little burned out. You could say that I needed a change in my life. I have definitely found that and a lot more in my friendship and business partnership with Katerina."
Aplez.com wanted to know just what the young entrepreneurs like most about their adopted city.
Katerina's words were few but succinct. "Everything is possible in NYC."
Silvia: "I love the culture, vibe, potential and all the people who make this city so great."
A very young brand, Culiraw launched in December of 2018.
The name of the company was originally going to be Culinaria by Katerina but she and Silvia felt that it was too long and not catchy or memorable enough. After a little brainstorming, the duo came up with Culiraw, which is a blend of the words culinary and raw.
Katerina and Silvia met in the Hamptons, a few years ago. It was a meeting that would change both their lives for the better.
As Silvia tells it: "I worked with a friend of Katerina's, who introduced us in the Summer of 2015. Katerina was only here for a few months before returning home to the Czech Republic. However, we re-connected the following year. I helped to get her raw vegan desserts into a restaurant that I was managing at the time."
"I was already sold on her cakes. The taste was unbelievable. The first time that we broached the subject of formally working together was in 2017. But I felt that we weren't really ready at that point."
"One year later, though, almost to the exact day, we both felt that the time was right to pick up the conversation where we had left off and started a business together. And, here we are."
Their personalities and life experience definitely complement one another. Katerina is the quiet one while Silvia tends to be more outgoing.
That trait certainly comes in handy since Silvia is responsible for the brand's sales and marketing. Silvia has a real blast at the various street fairs and markets in Brooklyn and other locations in the city, where Culiraw sells their product.
She enjoys interacting with the people who walk up to their vendor table, a bit hesitant at first and not at all sure what vegan desserts are all about!
One bite, though, and they're hooked.
"What I hear most often at the pop-up markets is; I can't believe that this slice of cake is vegan. It tastes as rich, flavorful and satisfying as anything that I get from my local bakery".
The most rewarding thing of all, however, is that these compliments are coming from people who have NEVER eaten a vegan dish previously.
Another benefit of indulging in raw, vegan desserts is that they are high in fiber, so you can enjoy a sensible portion yet still feel filled-up.
Katerina's culinary journey started when she was twelve years old. Food and cooking were her passions, but, as time went on, Katerina also became more conscious of what she put into her body.
" Step by step I tried different diets like raw food, fruit only and then became vegetarian. Eventually, I went vegan. I had a couple of very important reasons to go this route. First, I felt that it was better for my health and well being. And I wanted to do what I could to protect animals. I just could not bear to eat them or animal byproducts, anymore."
Katerina got into the world of raw desserts through a class she took and never looked back.
"Since childhood, I loved eating sweets but never knew when to stop. I found myself gaining weight. Raw desserts were the perfect alternative."
Silvia, on the other hand, has a background in the hospitality industry. So, with the long, crazy hours she kept and the fact that she was surrounded by food at the restaurants where she worked, Silvia gave in to temptation all too often.
"Katerina introduced me to the world of raw desserts three years ago and I absolutely loved it. I was amazed by the idea of scrumptious desserts that are actually healthier for you."
These are not easy times to be a small business owner. However, these two multi-tasking entrepreneurs embrace the challenges they face each and every day.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is making sure that there's enough money to finance the business while trying to juggle living expenses.
Yet, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
"The best thing about the entrepreneurial life is that I do what I love and am creating my own future."
Echoing her business partner's sentiments, Silvia loves the freedom that owning a business gives her to create her own schedule.
"Another very important thing is the idea that all the hard work I put in will benefit me and not somebody I'm working for who may not appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that I put into this."
Attention all home cooks out there in the Aplez.com universe! Chef Katerina has something special planned for the coming months.
Due to popular demand, Katerina will be bringing back her workshops and classes so that you too can create tantalizing raw, vegan desserts in the comfort of your apartment.
"I teach two types of classes; one being vegan cakes and other types of "sweet" treat and the other is a chocolate workshop," explained Katerina.
"I did a couple of classes last Summer and the reception was all that I could have wished for. Going forward, I'll be doing one class or workshop per month. You will learn up to four recipes, the benefits and fundamentals of preparing vegan desserts, where to buy ingredients, etc. And, the students will be able to take their creations home and enjoy them !"
During the precious little free time that she has, chef Katerina enjoys being active, practicing aerial hoops and pole dancing.
Silvia loves to hit the gym. But, the outdoor life is what she lives for. It doesn't matter what the weather is, Silvia will find something fun to engage in, be it hiking, running, walks on the beach or snowboarding.
Silvia and Katerina get a kick out of discovering all of the different options that NYC has to offer when it comes to vegan restaurants and cafes.
As much as they love to whip up wonderful vegan meals in the kitchen, it's also nice for Culiraw's founders to take a much-needed break and enjoy a night out. Who doesn't want to get spoiled, every now and then?
As far as a more casual ambiance, Katerina enjoys the offerings at V-Life, Veggie Castle and Eat By Chloe. She would also definitely recommend Le Botaniste and Blossom Du Jour.
Silvia was not at all hesitant to chime in with her preferences on the city's vegan culinary scene.
"Since it has not been that long since I've become vegan and moved to the city, I am still in the process of exploring new places rather than just patronizing one or two. Recently, I've tried ABCV by Jean-George and was blown away. Candle 79 It is also quite good. Locally, here in Astoria I really like Jujube tree and Number 5. "
As a brand, Culiraw has made some surprisingly fast strides in a relatively short amount of time.
Aplez.com, though, was curious to know, just where the founders see Culiraw going in say, five years' time?
Katerina and Silvia are adamant that the quality and variety of their products, which is already top-notch, has to be constantly improving.
"We want to push the envelope in terms of bringing together new and exciting flavors, as well as incorporating even more types of superfoods in the recipes," stated Katerina.
Silvia, ever with an eye on marketing, added that " Our goal is to distribute Culiraw's energy bars nation-wide and get them into as many natural and organic markets and gyms as possible. Then, possibly, expand to Europe starting with our home countries. "
" The sky literally is the limit at Culiraw. Hey, wouldn't it be cool if, one day, astronauts were munching on a Culiraw Almond cookie or Pistachio Bar? You never know? One can only dream!"
At some point in, hopefully, the not too distant future, the ladies would like to have a brick and mortar cafe where they can host Culiraw's growing legion of fans.
In the meantime, you can enjoy Culiraw's fine products in several different ways
Visit their online shop at www.culiraw.com for custom cake orders for your next party or get-together with friends. Chef Katerina will also be delighted to whip up some tasty cakes, pies or cupcakes for your next office party or business meeting in the conference room.
Show your colleagues and clients just how much you care by skipping the usual platter of sugar and calorie-laden cookies. Give your business associates guilt and gluten-free treats that will have them asking for seconds.
Silvia and Katerina have a full schedule of pop-up events throughout the city, where you can sample their vegan goodies. Simply click on this link for an up-to-date schedule of where they'll be appearing: https://www.culiraw.com/pop-up-locations/
Finally, you can find Culiraw right in your own neighborhood. Their delicious desserts and bars are currently being sold at local markets in Brooklyn, Manhattan and, of course, Queens.
Please check out their retail location link here: https://www.culiraw.com/locations/
If you're going to do dessert; do it the right way. Your body will love you for it!
Expand your culinary horizons at Culiraw where great taste is always on the menu.