Apr 30, 2006
Raw food eatery touts benefits
By Shannon Goble Jerez
Deseret Morning News
SUGAR HOUSE — The food is divine — it is the natural way to eat, described
one frequent customer at the first raw food restaurant in Utah.
The Living Cuisine, also known by its customers as the raw food bar,
opened last July for lunch and dinner. It provides fresh organic food
seasoned with familiar herbs.
The exotic taste features foods from India to the Middle East to the
Americas, explained owner Omar Abou-Ismail, 26, of Lebanon who moved
to Utah in 1997 to attend the University of Utah.
A framed quote by Gandhi sits on the inviting counter where the food
is prepared and many customers sit. It reads, "Men often become what
they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something,
it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I
acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the
The framed quote was a gift from one of the Living Cuisine's
customers as a thank you for changing the way this customer was
eating. The customer, like Abou-Ismail and his employees, believes
eating only raw-organic food makes them healthier and can heal
diseases, he said.
Two years ago Abou-Ismail started eating only raw-organic food and
noticed his health improving. At the time he was working in Hawaii
as a geophysicist. He began to read nutritional books.
After trying the raw food diet, Abou-Ismail said he was very
impressed with how much healthier he felt and continued eating only
"Eating raw food doesn't mean that everything you eat is raw
(uncooked)," Abou-Ismail said, adding a lot of the food is
dehydrated at a temperature of 105 degrees F.
Still eating raw, when Abou-Ismail's job ended in Hawaii, he moved
back to Utah to be with his family and look for another job in
geophysics. However, Abou-Ismail's life changed when his father, at
the age of 63, was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Abou-Ismail began taking care of his father full time while his
mother worked, but in December 2004 his father passed away.
"In 2005, I thought, you know it is a new year and I wanted to start
my life right because when my father passed away it just really
affected me," Abou-Ismail said, noting he didn't want to work as a
geophysicist anymore. "I had to find out a way to make a living, but
at the same time help people that needed help."
Abou-Ismail decided to use his knowledge of food to help others, he
"I feel like I know a lot of truth about food. I have seen a lot of
testimonies of healing happening from eating right," Abou-Ismail
said, noting the first thing he decided to do to help people was
teach awareness classes at Wild Oats educating them about why they
should eat raw food and how to prepare the food.
To further help people, he decided to open a raw food restaurant and
use his talent of creating healthy-raw food recipes with only
natural ingredients that people from all walks of life can enjoy.
"I am hoping to bring a new form of light — a healing light that
allows people to see things in a simple way," Abou-Ismail said,
adding his customers range from vegans to those who don't limit what
kinds of food they eat.
Abou-Ismail said his food is unique because of the way he focuses on
the nutritional factor of the menu.
"The people that work here are very loving, and we work to help
people, to educate people, to make people aware," Abou-Ismail said.
"We are here to do nothing but show complete acceptance with no
judgment and complete love no matter who they are."
Corbin White, 29, is one of Abou-Ismail's regular customers. He
first came to the Living Cuisine in August.
"The second I saw it, I just pulled in here and I knew it was for me
because at the time I was vegan so I was thinking a little bit more
about the way I ate," White said.
Abou-Ismail "asked me the first time I was here if I was raw, and I
said, 'I am now,' " White said, noting he loves the taste of the
food. "His food is absolutely world class. I just decided right then
and there that there was no sense in ever destroying my food with
Since White began to eat only raw food his health has improved, he
"My health has been improving steadily," White said. "I am a lot
stronger than I use to be. I feel my body more so it makes me want
to exercise, and I have been rock climbing and snowboarding like
The Living Cuisine's menu includes familiar items such as pizza,
pasta, kiwi pie and sushi.
Prices range from $5 to $16. The restaurant is at 2144 S. Highland
Drive, suite 100, inside the Herbs for Health store.
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