|Really Living—What Makes YOU Come Alive?|
|Monday, 14 May 2012 10:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
What I wanted to "be when I grew up" first, before anything else, was a football player.
I was three years old when the subject came up. I wore a humongous football helmet around the house and ran with no seeming direction—sometimes in circles, sometimes into walls due to an oversized helmet blocking my vision—whenever a game was on television. But I also wore a mask and bounced on a spring horse when Zorro was on. And acted out every A. A. Milnes character on the stage of my childhood bed when I was read "Winnie the Pooh" bedtime stories. I think I was a doer right from the beginning. Oh, how early we display our unique personalities!
* * *
I guessed his name right away—the man behind the counter. I just knew that the guy singing and chopping tomatoes had to be the chef himself. He also turned out to be the owner. Right in the heart of Salt Lake City's funky Sugar House neighborhood, next to the political-statement bumper-sticker store. And the metaphysical book store. Third door down, tobacco and glass pipes. But proudly on this corner, with singing, chopping chefs and abundant natural light: Living Cuisine Café, serving entirely organic, raw-vegan fare. The exact kind of joint in which I wanted to spend my fourth-year-raw anniversary.
Chef Omar Pure Heart's Nigerian and Lebanese upbringing makes for an exciting selection of dishes, gigantic with texture and exotic in spice combinations—like a perfectly crumbling-crust pizza with a delightfully un-American pesto.
Immediately after completing school in Lebanon, our singing chef and his mother moved across the sea to Utah, where Omar went to university and his mother opened up the renowned Lebanese restaurant, Mazza Cafe, in the 2 million-person big/little city. Omar studied Geophysical Engineering for years before awakening to raw food himself. Indeed, the story of Living Cuisine Café seems unlikely indeed (but Chef Omar Pure Heart would certainly say it was divine). He went all the way for his love of raw vegan food, abandoned his engineering studies and opened Living Cuisine in July 2005 on only $3,000.
And now he stands with one assistant behind the counter just radiating—radiating light with a smile as blinding as the Bonneville Salt Flats, as he relishes the feel of a knife slicing through a tomato and concentrates on feeding his customers. He understands that he is feeding their souls as well, and knows the importance of his work. I've never seen a man bask in such genuine pleasure from cutting a tomato.
The kiwi-cacao pie with macadamia cream, chocolate mousse and a gentle berry sauce was served in a heart-shaped bowl. It feels good to eat food prepared with this much love. Heck, it feels good just to be in proximity of people as radiant as Chef Omar Pure Heart-—people who have truly come alive.
* * *
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. What the world needs is people who have come alive."
My parents told me I could do it. They didn't giggle, they didn't tease, they just said, "You'll be the best football player ever, honey," as I tackled another wall. When I was eight, they told me I'd be a fantastic children's book illustrator. At 11, I was to be a horror author and at 16 a tattoo artist, but the entire time I think I really knew it was dance—and they told me I could do that, too. All that mattered is that I had something to love and believed it was possible.
What would life be if we, like Chef Omar Pure Heart, against all odds, believed we could do anything and then did it? Like a song in the kitchen, like the infectious blinding smile, like a knife through a tomato when we live our love.
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