Interview with Seed Restaurant’s Jerri Hastey

Jerri Hastey

Today we have an interview with the dynamic Jerri Hastey, owner of Santa Rosa’s 100% vegan, mostly raw Seed Restaurant — one of my personal favorites! I eat from “Seed on the Go,” their take-out side, at least once or twice per week. They have a friendly, highly accommodating staff, and their scrumptious food satisfies without feeling like you just binged on nuts. More importantly (at least for my creative writing purposes) they have a Chocolate Caramel Pie that will send you over the moon and back. I consider Seed one of the sparkliest gems of Sonoma County, and I’m so pleased to spread the word here.

Seed Chocolate Caramel Pie

How did you first get involved with raw foods and when did you know for sure this lifestyle was for you?

I have to credit my oldest daughter for introducing me to raw foods. I decided to try it for a couple of weeks to “detox”, but two weeks and 15 pounds later I felt too good to give it up! It took me 6 months to shed about 60 pounds total! The most amazing thing was that I didn’t have to starve myself. I actually ate whenever I was hungry, the only rule was it had to be raw and vegan. I’ve now adjusted to eating raw about 80% of the time, but I’m still 100% vegan!

Many people turn to a raw food diet, but not everyone takes the step of opening a raw food restaurant! What convinced you to take the leap?

I opened the restaurant because I was hungry! Seriously, I had toyed with the idea of a restaurant knowing this area needed one but lacked confidence. While catering this dinner in LA a businessman there was so excited about the food he offered to finance a restaurant for me! Even though I ended up using my own money to get started, his confidence gave me the confidence I needed to open seed.

Seed Zucchini Pasta

How has running a restaurant changed your own raw path?

Initially I just ate what was handy, but now having access to such a large pantry of fresh foods and seasonings makes kitchen time playtime – we have so much fun creating new dishes! The most challenging thing for me nowadays is remembering to sit down and eat. I know it sounds odd with so much lovely food around me, but running a successful restaurant keeps me so busy sometimes I just forget to stop.

What advice can you share for people wanting to follow a passion and turn it into a career?

Fear is a tricky thing. I almost didn’t open seed because I didn’t believe I would know how to run a restaurant and worried whether my food would be good enough. There were also those well-meaning friends with cautionary tales of how risky restaurants are – especially vegan ones. There were plenty of reasons for me NOT to do it. . . sound familiar? I guess the answer lies in one; defining your passion, two; pushing through the inevitable obstacles, and three; to KEEP PUSHING! (If you lack the energy or drive for step three you need to re-look at step one.)

As a (very) regular customer, I’ve noticed your food is lighter than many gourmet raw restaurants’ food. How do you manage to create such full flavors while keeping things light?

When you look through most raw recipe books you’ll find Nama Shoyu and Braggs Liquid Aminos as common ingredients. We use neither, as well as minimal salt. Fresh, organic ingredients are already flavor-packed and just need some creative combining to bring it all out. Think of creating a recipe like writing a symphony. First you define the emotion and then look for the right harmony and progression of flavors to bring it out.

Please share a bit about your box program. Where is it available and which people would benefit from which box?

We offer a weekly box, a weight-control box and seasonal holiday boxes. The weekly box is filled with a variety of dishes for those who want to eat raw but don’t always have the time to prepare it. The weight-control box is designed after my own experience with losing weight through eating raw with generally the same menu as the weekly box but with much larger portions, (so you have to supplement it less).

Most of the items in the boxes are freezable to keep things fresh. For holidays we offer gourmet meal boxes customized for the season so you can enjoy your holiday feast without the work! Boxes can be picked up at the restaurant, or shipped to just about anywhere in the world thanks to dry ice and speedy delivery.

Seed BBQ Burger

I hear you’re moving! What do you look forward to in your new location?

Our first location was great for getting started, but it’s really not big enough to sustain us. In addition to an upgraded ambiance with more seating, I am looking forward to expanding both our raw and cooked menu with weekly specials and adding some creative sake cocktails. Once moved I will also be working on getting our raw cheezcakes in stores, opening seed on the go in outlying areas and then finally writing that recipe book!

Sounds like you have a lot of exciting things coming up. How are you planning on doing it all?

You mean besides utilizing the super powers vested by those amazing live enzymes! I have a fabulous staff which makes things so much easier for me, but my original concept for seed was to include a working partner to balance out the responsibilities. Even though I’ve been approached several times so far it just hasn’t been the right person, but I’m a firm believer in things happening at the right time in the right way when you’re doing the right thing so. . .

Why Sonoma County?

Sonoma County is known throughout the world as a mecca of gourmet food and wine, but most restaurants here offer pasta as their vegan/vegetarian entrée choice. I saw a need for a quality restaurant for vegans. What really surprised me is that about 90% of seed’s repeat customers aren’t even vegetarian, much less vegan! Tomorrow they may eat their cheeseburger, but many are simply looking for healthier choices without having to compromise on taste.
It is encouraging to see more and more renowned chefs are beginning to create inspiring vegan dishes for their menus.

Any cookbooks in your future? Please feel free to share a recipe if you’d like.

I have two books that I’m working on. One is a general recipe book with raw food tips simply called The Seed, and the other is The Menopausal Vegan, (yes, based on my experiences!), which will include recipes as well.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the chia seed. Such a versatile little gem packed with so much nutrition! Just mix one part chia seed with 5 parts water, stir a few times and in an hour you’re left with a gooey mixture. You can easily add this to salsa to upgrade your chips to a healthy snack! Adding chia to your day will supplement your energy dramatically!

Thanks so much, Jerri! I know lots of people are already looking forward to your new location. My heart stopped when I heard you were closing between Labor Day and October 27, but fear not: Seed on the Go stays open Wednesday thru Saturday that whole time.

Interviewed by Lazy Raw Foodist, Laura Bruno.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by giacintavosika,LMP,RMT on August 31, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Wow! What a fun and exciting interview! I loved receiving the inspiration from both the questions and responses. The photos of the food are absolutely fabulous! Thanks for sharing this awesome, “lively” and scrumptions entry! Cheers! Giacinta 🙂

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  2. Posted by laurabruno on August 31, 2009 at 6:24 am

    You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  3. […] County we’re spoiled with not just Cafe Gratitude, but also the Petaluma Raw Food Potluck and Seed Restaurant. But we also have some wonderful vegan and raw-friendly spots, where “normal” folks can […]

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