Italian born David Bez may not started his career as a chef, but he is one today. I met with a man behind Salad Love to talk about salads, health and business.

“I’ve never had passion for cooking” — isn’t your typical response coming from an Italian, leave alone the international cookbook author and a café owner, yet David Bez isn’t your typical chef. I met David in his café in the heart of bustling Covent Garden Neal’s Yard.

Surrounded by cookbooks and compote jars, with his dark curly hair, thick black frames and wide smile, David is every bit of the image of a TV personality who just stepped off the cooking show set. One day he will, but on this day it was all about the small things and humble beginnings, or in other words, the spice of the story.

David Bez, is what you call, a creative type. In the past his creativity manifested in the form of music, design, and recently — food. It all started with a conventional problem of losing weight, met with a seemingly conventional solution of eating healthy.

Back in 2010, David started making his own salads at his desk at Discovery Channel where he was working as a head of the design. “I set myself a challenge to make one salad every day, photograph it and put it on my blog along with a recipe” — recalls David. At that point David didn’t have a business project in mind, “I just wanted to share the benefits of healthy eating with others”.

Year after the Salad Love blog project launch he was picked up by the social media and this was moment where it all started happening for David. Book deals followed, so did other projects. Soon after he published Salad Love, David began his work on his second project, Breakfast Love. Today Salad Love and Breakfast Love have been translated into 27 and 12 foreign languages and sold in many countries around the world. Salad Love was a transitional step for healthier lunch alternatives’ seekers.

When David picked up the book and talked me through all the different ingredients, I was hypnotised by the visual aesthetics of the food. The ingredients were presented in colour palettes and textures to jazz up the plain notion of the salad. “People eat with their eyes, it’s what they see first, the food must look good” said David. And indeed, David recipes are picture perfect and 22k of his Instagram followers can confirm it.

Undoubtedly, such approach to meal comes naturally to David who spend years working on visual design projects. “I used a normal camera to photograph my salads. Back then, smartphone cameras couldn’t deliver the quality they can today.” And it isn’t just technology which evolved, tools evolved too. “I didn’t have a spiralizer back then, I had to spiralize cucumber with a peeler which took a lot of effort” — wearily recalls David.

Yet, above all, it’s the health aspect which is mostly important to David. “When I create the new recipe I think of ingredients which taste good as well as look good” — he explains. Ultimately, plate is the canvas for David who does not shy away from experimenting and that is the secret ingredient which made him so successful.

David’s story doesn’t end there. Being an author wasn’t the final destination for him. “I needed the tangible completion to what I’ve started” says David and this is how the idea of vegan café came to mind. His personal and professional evolution opened up horizons of which he didn’t think before.

Salad delivery,which briefly took place last year, was exciting but it was missing the human link “I wanted to connect with my customers “ — David’s eyes lit up behind his thick frame glasses as he pointed to the café bustling with curious tourists and locals, some of whom come there three times a day.

Neal’s Pride doors opened a year ago which was a result of a crowdfunding project which David initiated back in May, 2016 . Crowdfunding is fairly new approach to finance the business project and David jumped at the opportunity right away. However, this success carries a deeper meaning for David.

Although big chuck of financial contribution came from people close to home, fascinatingly, his biggest supporters were his colleagues at Discovery Channel. In his words “I came the full circle. Salad Pride project started at Discovery and the same people who were there to witness the beginning of this journey ,were the ones who contributed to the completion of it the most.”

As far as the book sales and café go, next thing on David’s menu is to change people’s eating habits and nudge them towards ethical food choices. David runs Salad Masterclass, Fermentation workshop and supper club which is all part of the healthy eating education as many people simply don’t know how to make healthy meals.

“If you gave someone a kale leaf, they probably wouldn’t know what to do with it. Do you boil it? Do you eat it raw? Here we teach people about how to prepare their meals so they are not only healthy but also taste good” — explains David. Neal’s Pride is a place where people reconnect with food on a new level.

And finally, David’s key to success? “Just imagine you are already there and it will happen.”

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