Luiz Sanchez meets the man behind Canggu’s pioneering cold-pressed juice craze and its spiritual home Beachgarden – Organic Kitchen.
Cold-pressed juicing has become a big business over the past decade. As more and more celebrities have endorsed the practice juicing has boomed, spreading across every major metropolitan area like wildfire. One of its early pioneers in the New York scene was Mark Baker, who opened the wildly successful company The Juice Press in New York some eight years ago. Mark has worked tirelessly over the past three years to bring juicing to Bali, with the inauguration of In the Raw Juice Labs this past November.
Baker first brought juicing to Canggu in 2015 when he opened In the Raw Juice Bar in Batu Bolong. He has since expanded the brand into the iconic Beach Garden In the Raw. “People are now more open to the health benefits that cold-pressed juices and the raw movement can provide,” he said. “Over the past five years Canggu has continued to grow exponentially, and healthy eating and juicing has exploded. Canggu is no longer a backpacker destination; it has evolved into the premier foodie destination in Bali, particularly for healthy foods.”
For The Love Of Juice
Juicing can have tremendous health benefits, which Mark Baker takes very seriously, showing us the state of the art equipment used by the lab to ensure their products are clean, the environment sterile and as much of the good stuff extracted from the produce as possible. “We are not just talking about healthy drinks packed with vitamins and fiber,” he explains. “There are also so many medical applications here to consider. We want to expand our product line to include things like charcoal, which has been proven to help with sickness like mild food poisoning, dengue buster juices to help with recovery, and of course ingredients like turmeric which have long been known to have anti-inflammatory properties.”
This move towards a more natural way of dealing with common ailments and illness is steadily becoming more and more popular as we realize the detrimental effects over-prescribing medication has had on our bodies, and is something Mark and his team are keen to explore and promote.
In the Raw is also going above and beyond their commitment to the environment, using glass bottles which they recycle, and eliminating plastic from their environment. They are also committed to being as ethical as possible. “We work directly with the farmers, who deliver their products to us themselves, thus eliminating middle men and ensuring they receive the fairest prices possible for their work,” he says. “We want to make this company as eco-friendly and ethical as humanly possible.”
Assembling The A-team
Over the past two years Mark has worked tirelessly scouting the island for the best organic farmers and hiring dedicated, passionate, and professional people who share in his vision and passion. “We have established a network of organic farmers in Bali who grow all our produce and deliver to us the best fresh, crisp, and clean ingredients daily,” he explains.
This is no small feat, and is only the beginning. Mark also brought onboard Ronald Junior, a young, and talented chef from Brazil who has been called in to revamp Beach Garden’s menu and is the visionary behind In the Raw’s menu.
Meet The Alchemist
Junior brings with him a wealth of knowledge around South American ingredients that are often not seen abroad. Aside from the popular açai berry, Junior has introduced other exotic products such as acerola, cupuaçu, and camu camu, which has really set their juices apart from local competitors. He is, in a sense, their alchemist.
“I love creating something out of nothing,” Junior told me. “Give me a random number of ingredients and I will gladly create a bunch of new dishes out of them.” Junior and Mark have set high standards for quality and hygiene. “We do not want agrotoxins and other contaminants in our foods. I am putting my reputation on the line because I believe in what we are doing here and I would rather tell our customers that we have run out of something than serve anyone something that is sub-par.”
Junior began his career in Rio de Janeiro, where he owned a kitchen outlet store and taught culinary classes. He also studied in France under Alain DuCasse, and travelled around Europe giving workshops at different restaurants. The pair sealed their collaboration when the former head chef of Beach Garden moved on, offering Junior an opportunity to impress. Together they have put the restaurant and juice brand firmly on the Canggu map.
The Future Is Now
Having opened the flagship juice bar in the heart of Canggu, Mark Baker has set his sights on opening numerous pop-up stores across the island. “The next step is to open a new juice lab in Ubud followed by Berawa, as well as one in a new luxury project in Seminyak, and eventually Uluwatu will follow,” he says.
Keep an eye on these guys, as they are sure to shape the future of Bali’s culinary and healthy-living culture. We can expect several pop-up juice bars to follow in their wake as more and more people wake up to the benefits or healthy living and cold-pressed juicing. The future looks bright: raw and organic.