Hear Chris Anca raw!

22 Sep 2020

Six years ago, Chris Anca swapped her white collar for an apron. Now, she’s creating incredible raw treats that are as much a feast for the eyes as they are the stomach. Here’s why Raw by Chris is so much more than raw balls.

Pushing paper may cut it for some, but not for Chris Anca.

Her move to Perth seven years ago forced her to swap a fulfilling career with the UN for a community development consultancy gig in the CBD where her days were suddenly spent ticking boxes hemmed into a tiny white cubicle.

While going through the motions of the daily rat race, Anca found joy and creativity in cooking, and started a blog to keep track of her experiments in the kitchen. Called Tales of a Kitchen, the blog quickly became a roaring success and gave Anca the confidence to swap the corporate world for a new career in food – specifically, healthy, simple, raw desserts.

“I found it really inspiring that here (Australia), you can go to the farmer’s market at any point during the year, and there’re just such an abundance of fruits and vegetables, which is very different to Europe. Europe is very dependent on all four seasons. So in winter, you don’t really have that much abundance,” she says.

“So I really got into cooking and I was really fascinated by the fact that you can actually make healthier desserts from nuts and seeds and fresh fruits, or even veggies in some cases. I mean, making a carrot cake with the main ingredient actually being the carrots, as opposed to flour and sugar and eggs with a little bit of carrot.”

But while many of relate the concept of raw deserts to simply raw balls (which Anca does make a delicious selection of) under her business, Raw by Chris, she is also creating the most incredible creations, many of which are reminiscent of nostalgic childhood favourites. Love a Toblerone? Eat Anca’s and you’ll be doing so guilt-free. Same goes for the raw jam-filled lamingtons and Snickers bars. There seems no end to the possibilities when it comes to Anca’s ability to create mouthwatering, decadent desserts.

“I think we eat with our eyes first,” she says. “And I think even people who want healthier desserts are still looking for the same quality and taste. They need to be beautiful and they need to be delicious, not just healthy.”

The secret, says Anca, is working with only the best ingredients. If they’re in season, even better.

“Initially, I thought that it would be more challenging to create healthier alternatives to traditional desserts, but in all honesty, it’s actually a little bit easier because if you work with quality ingredients, which we do, the end product is packed with flavour. We work with beautiful premium nuts, like cashews and almonds. We use seasonal fruits and vegetables. So when you combine, say, fresh in-season strawberries with premium maple syrup and cashews to make a beautiful strawberries and cream – God! Really, how can it not taste good?”

Better still, Anca makes many of her own products, like the rich peanut butter that features in her personal favourite desserts like the raw Snickers bars, peanut butter brownies, peanut butter cheesecake bars, peanut butter jelly pops…the list goes on.

“I’m very partial to peanut butter,” she laughts, “which is very funny because I didn’t grow up with peanut butter, but I tasted it a few years ago when we first started to use it and I was like, ‘Oh my God, where have you been?’

“Now we make our own peanut butter – we buy beautiful roasted, oil-free, salt-free peanuts and make around 30 kilos at a time. The whole kitchen just smells of peanut butter and it literally makes me want to just grab a spoon.”

Another of Anca’s favourites is the espresso martini cheesecake (because it has real booze in it), but vodka and peanut butter aside, the one thing that’s consistent through all her goodies is quality, colour and fun.

“There are others making raw desserts, of course, but we were the first to set the tone when it comes to creating more innovative, healthy desserts. We were the first to introduce colourful (celebration) cakes to the market – we make really beautiful, unique birthday cakes – and (raw) cake pops too. We just try to be unique and have fun with our ideas, and the more colourful, the better!”

Behind all the fun, Anca’s business also has a serious side too. She is committed to paying her success forward. Her production kitchen, which supplies both her 150-odd Raw by Chris stockists, and her takeaway shop in Carlisle, Little Raw Deli, employs mostly people facing challenging life circumstances.

“I guess you can say we operate as a social enterprise,” she says. “Basically, I don’t have a pastry chef employed anymore. Instead, we employ people who come from a disadvantaged background, who face barriers to employment for one reason or another, and we train them in-house. This comes with its challenges, of course, but at the end of the day, all businesses have challenges and this is a challenge I choose to deal with.”

Anca is also a passionate supported of Food Bank and in 2019 was a Telstra Business Awards finalists in the Social Change Maker category – further proof that doing things a little bit differently often pays off.

 

The Black Truffle stocks a rotating selection of Raw by Chris goodies – all of them incredible. Pop in to check out the weekly range.