The story of Graze: Podcast Interview

Ivy Dai is a Cordon Bleu trained chef who worked in Paris as a pâtissière at Hédiard and Lenôtre.  Growing up in Los Angeles to Taiwanese parents, she was exposed to international cuisine from an early age. Combined with her travels as a personal chef aboard yachts and for royal families, she has created a unique fusion of California cuisine.

In 2017 she opened Graze, her restaurant in the south of France. The menu combines French technique, plant-based ingredients and explosive flavor. And Graze has just recently launched their latest cookbook – Vegan Comfort Classics and the Vegan Cancer Cookbook.

She opened Graze due to a growing demand for tasty, plant-based dishes that were gluten and allergy free. Committed to improving the health of the modern diet, her goal is simple: get people to eat their vegetables.

Graze also caters for high net worth individuals aboard luxury yachts and in villas, most notably for celebrity vegans Pamela Anderson and Tobey Maguire. Chef Ivy has personally cooked for the royal family of Qatar and other royal families and billionaires in Switzerland, London France Italy Spain and even as far-flung as Palau (a small island between Asia and Australia).

Ivy launched 2 cookbooks on Amazon recently Vegan Comfort Classics and the Vegan Cancer Cookbook. Both publications feature simple yet explosive dishes to whip up any day of the week. Some sample dishes: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry, Singapore Style Curry noodles, Red Pepper and Pineapple Curry, and many more Graze customer favorites. The Vegan Cancer cookbooks focuses on including the top cancer-fighting ingredients (crucifers, soy, carotenoids etc) and are adapted to be fat-free. These are the same recipes Ivy has also cooked for princes and princesses in their private homes.

Usually 9,99 euros online, for this month the price will be reduced to only 2,99 euros and if you mention this podcast.

Graz also offers cooking classes on classic French pastries, everyday vegan cuisine desserts, sushi, yacht charter menus and so much more. Ivy offers online workshops and one-on-one nutritional consultations to help clients lose weight, feel better and tackle their emotional issues. She found that many people with allergies and digestive issues were also battling unhealthy patterns and other blockages in their lives – and food was one way to change how they were living and what they put in their bodies – whether it was toxic food or toxic thoughts and behaviors.

The secret is not to cut out your favorite foods, but transform them into healthier versions – like instead of fries, oven roasted courgette and sweet potatoes that are crunchy. As well as when we crave certain fried or sweet foods, its 1) emotional (we crave sweet foods when we want love, bread if we need satisfaction), as well as physical – the Chinese philosophy of nutrition is based on heating and cooling or contracting and expanding properties of food. So in essence we crave meat or salty and fried foods because we are trying to ground ourselves – instead of denying ourselves what our body tells us it needs, we need to offer it a high quality alternative. As well as during women’s cycles, we crave sugar because the uterine lining seeks to expand and eliminate.

Ivy Dai graduated from The Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Los Angeles

Worked as a pastry professor in Paris. Was a pastry chef for the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton hotels in California (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara). Worked for French gastronomic kings Hédiard and Lenôtre in Paris. Appeared on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” show in Los Angeles.

She was a food writer and critic for the Los Angeles Daily News. She also worked as a full-time producer for ABC News in Los Angeles, and also works as a TV host and presenter for various TV shows.

She produced and hosted her own TV show called Burgers to Baguettes: Real Paris Cuisine now available on youtube.com/IvyEats

She also runs her own blogs offering her best recipes and stories of her adventures: IvyEats.com

She landed her jobs cooking for the 1% through a friend of hers who was a yoga instructor in LA living in Antibes, France, the center of luxury yachting worldwide. Registered with yachting agencies and networked and got her foot in the door doing small jobs for the Monaco Grand Prix, etc. She worked for 5+ years as a private chef for only the most exclusive families, who have flown her worldwide to have her cook for them. She gets jobs by referral only, and is currently one of the most sought after private chefs in the world. There are a few agencies who hire high-end chefs, so they call Ivy directly or by direct referral from her clients. She was the personal chef for the Sheikha of Qatar and ran a vegan and gluten-free kitchen for her in her palace in Qatar. There a lot of of other high-profile clients she is not able to mention.

Working for wealthy individuals and families is very rewarding but incredibly demanding. Clients and families are wonderful and respectful and you became a part of their family; and its wonderful tailoring food to a few specific palettes, as well as translating that love and nurturing through food for very busy successful people. They get to have home cooked food made just for them that is healthy and nutritious; or something from their childhood, not something you can get at a 5-star restaurant. However the short deadlines, high standards and around the clock schedule (she once worked 21 hours straight) is very difficult to maintain in the long-term, as well as sacrificing 100% of your personal life and time and friends and even hobbies.

Needless to say, Ivy’s health made a downturn and that’s when she turned to a plant-based diet to heal her body. In the last 10 years, she has walked through a gruelling and eye-opening transformation spiritually and physically; now she wants to help others through their own journey. 

She has chosen to use the universal language of food to connect and impact others. With her plant-based cuisine, it’s also a movement that will heal the planet, reverse climate change, and most importantly delight the taste-buds of all her customers.

Ivy is highly sought after by her private clients because she is great at discerning what people need: not just culinarily; but nutritionally, and also emotionally – comfort, or adventure, or healing. Her cooking skills are unparalleled- French gastronomic training combined with her knowledge of virtually every ethnic cuisine – Italian Moroccan Japanese Chinese even a bit of Russian! and Spanish – makes her cuisine one of a kind.

She fuses traditional flavors and textures from different cuisines and has transformed them using plant-based organic ingredients of the highest quality and nutrition to deliver a dining experience that feeds body and soul.

Come to Graze if you want fresh tasty food, and a taste of California classics (which I hear is in London, South Africa and Australia too!) – like avocado toast smoothies and chai lattes.

Graze

20 Rue des Casemates

06600 ANTIBES France

www.grazecafe.fr

+33 (0)4.89.82.51.73
FB/Insta: #GrazeAntibes

Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch (12:00-2:30pm; 10:30-3:30pm weekends), and also though delivery on UberEats.

Subscribe to their newsletters at www.grazecafe.fr to keep updated on pop-up dinners (Ramen Nights, Mexican nights Tacos+Tequilas); and for information on cooking classes and one-on-one consultations.

Find us on Instagram and facebook: #GrazeAntibes

Graze offers vegan organic fusion fare – smoothies, cold-pressed juices, chai lattes, coffee, vegan banana bread, cupcakes, gluten-free options, vegan burgers, avocado toast, falafel wraps raw cheesecakes hearty soups and so much more. All their packaging and table ware is 100% biodegradable and compostable – made from corn and bagasse (sugar-cane), and biodegrades in less than 90 days. Many of the furnishings inside the cafe are up cycled – discarded pallets, furniture and odds and ends – which Ivy has transformed into a chic and earthy space with exposed ceilings, stone walls, and warm wood accents. Graze also offers commercial kitchen rentals and privatisation for large events. Please ask!

Interview by Beverley Holt, of RivieraReiki.com and BeHereNowLadies.com

Hi Ivy!

IVY: Hi Beverley! Thank you so much for having me on the show. 

BEV: So glad to have you. So tell us more about these cookbooks.

IVY: …. available on amazon.fr amazon.co.uk amazon australia, amazon.us etc (prices)

BEV: That is amazing. So I heard that many of these recipes were actually conceived when you were cooking for royal families during your time as a private chef. What was cooking for the 1% like?

IVY: ….. but my own health made a turn for the worse, so i need a lifestyle change, a challenge, and also most importantly help more people than just the few individuals I cooked for everyday. I wanted to bring what I did – flavour AND nutrition – to the masses. I wanted to connect with more people. So that’s why I wanted to open Graze.

BEV: Wow so what else does Graze do?

IVY: In addition to the dine in restaurant and takeaway, we also cater for birthday parties, wedding and most recently for celebrity vegans Pamela Anderson, a huge Peta supporter, and actor Tobey Maguire during their stay in the French Riviera.

Classes…nutritional consults…also online facebook instagram and her personal blog. the cookbook was another way to bring the magic of Graze outside of just the French Riviera. 

BEV: I had the pleasure of eating at Graze…(details on what it was like, how it was fresh, compostable tableware):

IVY: Graze is commmitted to sustainability in every aspect of our business – organic plant-based from local suppliers, up cycled furniture in the cafe, we even recycle our juice pulp from pressed juices to make our famous Thai Burger! The space is also really natural and beautiful and chic, and is also a design inspiration as well. We sell books, bamboo toothbrushes and cutlery, coffee scrubs made from our recycled coffee grounds and other things to support a low carbon footprint lifestyle. We’re really popular for our homemade kombucha and vegan and gluten-free and sugar-free desserts.

BEV: So wow the restaurant, the cookbook….what can we expect in the future:

IVY: Currently Graze is expanding int the wholesale market and some local stores in Antibes have started to carry our homemade kombucha and desserts. We’re working on stocking our products in organic markets across the French Riviera, and hopefully one day expand to a second location in Nice or Monaco. 

AND…I am also working on a book about the full-story and experience of how I opened Graze, and the joys and pitfalls of living in France.

That won’t be published until later this year, but in the near future we are expanding our pop-up dinners both at Graze and remotely, as well as the cooking classes and our current 3-day juice fast and detox program! Contact us for more details.

BEV: That sounds exciting well thank you so much for being here again and can’t wait to try to recipes in the book.

EXTRA INFO: some graze recipes you can also see in video format on the Facebook page: facebook.com/GrazeAntibes –  all of Graze’s favorite recipes were filmed in a partnership with Nice Matin! 

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