Jennilee Melgar’s Health Journey Leads Her to a Bikini Bodybuilding Competition

Jennilee Melgar

By Brian Rossiter

On Jennilee Melgar’s commute, Raw Can Roll Café and its raw food menu offerings captured her attention two years ago, and the Wayne, Pennsylvania, resident has been a regular customer ever since.

Jenni’s favorite menu items are of the liquid variety. She enjoys vegetable juices and wheatgrass shots. She might just be the café’s most avid juice patron of late, often ordering several richly colored juices—loaded with vitamins and minerals—for consumption over a whole day.

With all this juice, it’s no secret that Jenni’s into leading a healthy lifestyle. In fact, she calls her interest in lifestyle an “obsession.”

Jenni is training for a bikini bodybuilding competition in January. This well-toned woman has been working out for more than 10 years, and during this time, she’s also made healthful food choices.

“Diet is a key component to my performance,” Jenni said. “I keep to a strict regimen, allowing me to monitor my daily protein and vitamin intake.”

Jenni took her lifestyle to a whole new level two years ago, though, when she decided to eat only raw foods. Her curiosity for nutrition and a raw food diet was buoyed by an interest in learning how food could improve her health, especially her kidneys and liver.

“This lifestyle has given me a new drive and outlook on eating healthy,” she said. “… An awesome bonus was my complexion—having that natural glow.”

Jenni’s passion for exploring a raw food diet was propelled by reading books, including some for sale at Raw Can Roll Café, as well as diving deep into the Internet, teeming with scores of health-based websites and blogs. Jenni began applying to her own body the lessons she learned in her health education.

“Over time, my understanding of the subject grew to the point that gradually I was able to create a diet that made me healthier and happier,” she said. “My dietary journey has led me to other life choices such as the bikini bodybuilding completion.

Jenni’s healthful pursuits are fueling another interest. She might one day launch a career in which all her knowledge can be applied to help others.

“This is still a hobby, but maybe one day I would like to get into a profession around health, as I see myself helping others to lead healthier lifestyles,” she said.

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Brit Martin: ‘I’ve Never Felt Better Both Physically and Mentally’

Brit Martin

By Brian Rossiter

If you’ve stopped by Raw Can Roll Café in the past year, you’ve likely ordered from or enjoyed a meal prepared by Brit Martin, a friendly, well-mannered, highly capable young woman. Brit, 23, joined the café shortly after graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied fine art and plays a key role in making sure Raw Can Roll runs smoothly.

Brit, who lives just a short walk away from Raw Can Roll, was attracted to the café’s wide-ranging, delicious vegan and raw vegan offerings. “I’ve been vegan for four years and was always interested in vegan cooking and the connection between nutrition and health,” she said. “After my senior year of college, I came across the café and thought it would be so cool to work in a raw food restaurant and get hands-on experience. I was really attracted to the atmosphere, so I applied, and here I am!”

Once she started at Raw Can Roll Café, Brit discovered a busy atmosphere with nary a dull moment. “I like the fact that I’m never bored here,” she said. “We are always running around, doing something. I like getting to be creative while working on specials and experimenting with new desserts. The staff is so energetic and kind and positive—they really make working here a fun time.”

During jam-packed lunch rushes, as staff experienced Friday afternoon, Brit appreciates the amount of teamwork that goes into providing outstanding service. “It’s really great if we are having a rush and everyone is working as a team to accomplish the same goal,” she said. “It’s also amazing to be able to work somewhere that aligns with my ethics.”

Brit gravitated to a plant-based lifestyle for ethical reasons, but she soon explored how she could improve her health by making dietary adjustments. “As I learned more about the health aspects, I shifted my eating habits away from processed ‘vegan junk food’ to a more whole-foods approach. Right now, I’m eating a lot more fruit, greens, veggies, rice, beans and potatoes. I’ve never felt better both physically and mentally.”

The Macrobiotic Bowl tops the list of Brit’s favorite Raw Can Roll menu items. Other favorite dishes are the Creamy Avocado Kale salad and Collard Wrap, which features a cashew-based basil “cheese” along with arugula, bruschetta, cucumber and avocado.

Well-informed beyond her years, Brit enjoys spending time in nature and diving deep into artwork at museums. “I just went to the Brandywine Museum to see the Andrew Wyeth paintings, which were incredible,” said Brit, who also makes her own art.

Brit also enjoys reading. “Some contemporary stuff I liked a lot recently were Sheila Heiti’s How Should a Person Be and Taipei by Tao Lin,” she said.

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Ashley Field ‘Hooked’ On Raw Can Roll Café’s Healthful Offerings

Ashley Field

By Brian Rossiter

Ashley Field has “gotten hooked” on Raw Can Roll Café’s menu selections, from Kosmic Kale Salad to The Best Hummus Ever and Blueberries and Cream smoothie—labeling the latter “super yum.”

Ashley, 25, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, stopped in the café one day a few years ago when its sign captured her attention. She’s sampled many menu items and has declared the Mexican Taco Salad to be her new favorite dish. Ashley’s also a fan of the Collard Wrap.

Ashley’s diet comprises 60 percent raw foods, a specialty at Raw Can Roll Café. She enjoys eating a lot of fresh and dried fruits for breakfasts and snacks. She consumes a lot of salads, filling beds of lettuces with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions and avocados. Ashley eats nuts, seeds and dark leafy green vegetables for healthful fats and protein.

“When I am lazy and want something that’s superhealthy and delicious, I head to Raw Can Roll—which is often!” Ashley said.

Ashley gravitates toward whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds because she feels “balanced and happy” when she enjoys them with abundance. “I also want to live a long, healthy life, so to me it makes sense that I should fuel my body as naturally and wholesome as possible,” she said.

Ashley isn’t overly rigid with her diet, however. She aims for moderation, enjoying meals with meat as well as alcoholic beverages. “I definitely indulge every once in awhile and will never turn down a good beer or dessert!” Ashley said.

Ashley is a member of Phoenixville-based Charlestown Farm’s community-supported agriculture program. “The farm is absolutely beautiful, and a being a member is a great excuse to get out in the country weekly or biweekly to pick up your share,” she said. “Their produce is delicious and changing each week. It makes it very easy to eat local and organic, which I am very passionate about.”

During summer breaks from college, Ashley worked at the Phoenixeville Farmers’ Market, selling organic teas. She also worked as a farm hand on Turning Roots Farm, an organic, biodynamic farm. “These summer jobs spurred my love for eating organic and local and the respect that comes from pulling your own food out of the ground. It is very hard and satisfying work to be a farmer, and I have boundless respect for those who make it their life.”

Ashley describes herself as “very active,” ensuring she gets plenty of healthful exercise. She played soccer for many years while growing up and continues to play in a weekly league. Ashley is no stranger to long runs, having crossed the finish line in a few marathons. She’s training for another one in November. Ashley also practices yoga and is certified through Yoga Alliance.

“I love to hike the most and take my dog on hikes in Valley Forge at least a few times a week,” she said. “Once you have a dog, you have no choice—you have to be active! So we are always walking or going on trail runs together.”

Ashley works as an analyst at eBay Enterprise in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog along with traveling and catching live musical shows. She is traveling this week to Nicaragua to stay and work on a permaculture farm, Project Bona Fide, on Isla de Ometepe.

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Caroline Belmont: ‘My Favorite Part Is the Customers’

Caroline Belmont

Caroline Belmont enjoys eating vegan meals at Greater Philadelphia restaurants. Raw Can Roll Café’s newest menu addition, the Acai Bowl, was pitched to the owners by Caroline.

By Brian Rossiter

At just 16, Caroline Belmont already eats an all-vegan, partially raw food diet and practices yoga. One recent customer mistook this mature, well-spoken and world-wise young woman as one of Raw Can Roll Café’s new owners.

Caroline, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, started at Raw Can Roll as an intern before becoming a part-time employee. “I had eaten at RCR before and loved the food and the whole atmosphere!” she said. “I went to one of their cooking demos at the Wayne Arts Center, where I learned how to make the Pad Thai and peanut butter dessert cup.”

It didn’t take long for Caroline to make her mark. The café’s newest menu item, the Acai Bowl, was suggested and developed by Caroline. It’s a dish ordered by fruit lovers who want a spin on smoothies with freshly cut fruit to chew on.

Caroline said that she once never questioned her food choices and that she grew up with a basic sense of nutrition, hammered home by calls to eat vegetables and finish dinner and not to eat too much dessert. During her freshman year at Merion Mercy Academy, Caroline admits she consumed too much cafeteria food, which, by summer, left her unmotivated and idle.

“I hated being stuck in a rut so I decided things needed to change,” she said. “I started by seeing a nutritionist and found ways to exercise that I enjoyed.”

Shortly afterward, Caroline discovered a vegan diet and watched documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, Earthlings and Food, Inc. She gave veganism a go for a month, but the benefits she experienced “completely transformed” her life.

“A lot of people will ask me why am I vegan, and my initial reason was for my health,” she said. However, the reasons I am still vegan and thriving on this lifestyle is because I realized that it is the best I can do for my body, the animals and the planet.”

Caroline supremely enjoys chatting with Raw Can Roll Café patrons. “My favorite part of working at Raw Can Roll is the customers,” she said. “A lot of customers have such interesting stories about what led them to eating healthier, and I love hearing them!”

Caroline’s favorite Raw Can Roll menu selections are the Barre 3 smoothie, Collard Wrap, Kosmic Kale salad and the BLT in a collard greens wrap.

When she’s not working or at school, Caroline practices yoga and boxing as well as going out to other Philadelphia area vegan restaurants. She also enjoys walks at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Caroline has her sights set on traveling the world, including visits in India, Australia and Thailand.

Caroline’s top book is The Main Street Vegan. Her favorite movie is Begin Again (“I love all the music in it!”) and favorite album, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar (“He is my favorite artist.”)

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Juliet Stein: ‘I Learned How to Feed My Body with Love’

Juliet Stein

By Brian Rossiter

Always searching for vegetarian and vegan eateries, Juliet Stein dropped in Raw Can Roll Café one day after shopping at Whole Foods and has become a frequent patron, enjoying Peanut Butter Cup Smoothies with cacao nibs, Creamy Ranch Kale Salad, Guacamole and wheatgrass shots when she’s feeling “brave.”

Juliet, 26, of Radnor, Pennsylvania, has been on a health journey for four years. While wrapping up her college studies, she suffered from severe depression, connected to an addiction to amphetamines. Juliet triumphed over this addiction on her own but developed self-loathing and began taking anti-depressants. She buried herself in her schoolwork, never going out and spending time with friends.

“I gained weight and stopped exercising,” she said. “These life choices made me stressed, which caused me to eat and, coupled with no exercise, led to more stress, which led to more eating and non-activity, and so it was a bit of a circle.”

Juliet got involved at a pet shelter and saw her volunteerism as an activity that didn’t involve direct relations with other people. She had developed social anxiety.

Juliet was ready for a change. She recognized that food had been her “best friend” but also her “worst enemy.” She wanted to adopt a vegan diet—not solely for health reasons but for the ethical reasons, too.

“I didn’t want ‘cheat’ days, which would inevitably turn into relapsing,” she said. “I didn’t have the self-control. … “I forced myself to watch undercover footage from factory farms and read myth-busting articles of what really happens to animals harvested for consumption. I spent a week crying, and it was a difficult experience, but it was also the push I needed to make a drastic diet change.

“So now when I walk by the artisan cheese selection at the grocery store, I don’t think ‘Oh, man, I’d love that piece of cheese, but I can’t because it’s not my cheat day. Instead, I think ‘That is a byproduct of mass cruelty on a worldwide scale, and the only reason people get away with it is because everyone is prepared to look the other way.’”

Beyond being vegan in diet, Juliet stopped purchasing products with leather, wool, silk or down in them in an effort for all living creatures enjoy freedom and life. “I think any vegan who simply stops at food is doing all animals a disservice,” she said.

Juliet, who is a professional dog walker and animal caretaker and sometimes works part time at a veterinary hospital, has experienced positive changes on a vegan diet. Her energy level soared and skin cleared up, and she lost weight. Her taste buds also changed. “All of a sudden, a slice of red pepper was bursting with flavor,” she said. Best of all, Juliet discovered that she was happier. “I was learning to love myself because I learned how to feed my body with love,” she said. “I stopped taking any pharmaceuticals; I simply didn’t need them anymore.”

When Juliet became a vegan, she began facing all sorts of questions such as “But where do you get your protein” and “But eating dairy doesn’t hurt the animals, right?” One myth—that all vegans and, especially, raw foodists—especially bothers her. “This led me to voraciously research pro athletes who were vegan,” she said. “There are a ton! Patrik Baboumian is the world’s strongest man and he’s vegan. Ultrarunner Scott Jurek broke the world record for traversing the Appalachian Trail in only 46 days, and he’s vegan!”

Juliet’s continued research about vegan diets led her to believe that human beings operate optimally on raw vegan diets. She’s taken great interest in learning about this lifestyle after discovering Michael Arnstein’s website TheFruitarian.com. Arnstein eats a diet rich in fruits but also consumes greens with a limited amount of fat.

Raw Can Roll Café aims to provide outstanding customer service, and this includes modifying orders for customers. Juliet, who enjoys hiking, reading and engrossing herself in art projects, said she appreciates this service. “My smoothie order is embarrassingly long and convoluted, but the employees always make me feel good about it and sometimes even offer some other ways to spice it up,” she said. “They encourage mixing and experimenting, which I think is great when you’re working with a diet that is stereotypically considered restricting. Once you come here, you realize the menu is only the beginning.”

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Barbara Cobb’s Quest for ‘Healthy Food’ Has Proven Fruitful

Barbara Cobb

By Brian Rossiter

A sugar binge earlier this year got Barbara Cobb to walk into Raw Can Roll Café in March in search of “something—anything—healthy.”

This Wayne, Pennsylvania, resident came back the next day, when former café co-owner Sheryll Chavarria asked Barbara whether she had ever done a cleanse. “Not even knowing what that was, I decided to try it for a week,” she said.

Barbara consumed three juices and two meals each day. “I ate what I thought were some strange things for a week and developed a taste for many of them,” she said. “And at the end of a week, I was no longer hooked on sugar. What a relief.”

For most of her life, Barbara has been addicted to carbs and sugar and has experienced yo-yo dieting. She instinctively knew she could be eating better, she said. Over Christmas break, Barbara watched three films on Netflix that she describes as “very motivating” for her: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. “A change was on my mind but not in my psyche,” she said. “The timing was good, though, for my wandering into Raw Can Roll.”

Barbara now calls herself a Raw Can Roll Café regular. “I feel the best I’ve felt in years,” she said. “I’m vegan-ish without particularly trying. I eat what I want, but what I seem to want is this crazy food, including the sweets, which are terrific. I have never felt once like I’m dieting and haven’t actually made any effort to diet, but I’ve inadvertently lost 8 to 10 pounds.”

Barbara especially enjoys Raw Can Roll Café’s Creamy Avocado Kale and Sweet Kale Salads (“Half size is huge!”), Burrito and BBQ Bowls (“Great.”) and Avocado Lettuce Tomato sandwich (“I used to be addicted to sugar, and now I’m addicted to avocados, which I didn’t even like before.”). She also enjoys the BLT sandwich, Sweet Potatoes and Green Tutti Frutti, which she orders with a scoop of raw protein. “My friends say it’s an ugly green, but when they taste it, they are amazed,” Barbara said. “I drink it because it’s delicious and get one practically every day, knowing it’s also healthy. … It does not taste one bit like kale.” Finally, Barbara said she enjoys the small chocolate treats. “I love them, and they do not create a binge,” she said. “I can eat a half and put the rest back in the fridge for another day.”

Barbara gives a nod to Raw Can Roll Café’s speedy service in naming the café her favorite “fast-food spot.” She also enjoys getting to know the staff. “I have to say that everyone at Raw Can Roll is friendly and helpful and fun to be around,” she said. “It’s like going to Cheers and everyone calls out, ‘Norm!’” she said. “You walk in, and ‘everybody knows your name.’”

Barbara is a certified public accountant, specializing in financial and tax work. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, listening to music, seeing theater productions, spending time with friends and her children and grandchildren.

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Dr. Barry Gillespie’s Vegan Diet Keeps Him Youthful

Dr. Barry Gillespie

By Brian Rossiter

Stop by Raw Can Roll Café for lunch or dinner one day, and you might see Dr. Barry Gillespie. He’s a regular patron who often enjoys Creamy Avocado Kale Salad, which he calls “the best kale salad on the planet.” He also looks younger than his 68 years would seem to suggest.

Barry credits his vegan diet, which he’s been leading for 35 years, in large part for his younger appearance.

“In 1980, I became a vegetarian who had no eggs, dairy or fish,” said Barry, a Devon resident for the past 31 years. “I am not even sure if the word ‘vegan’ existed. Then, I was labeled ‘crazy’ and a ‘social outcast.’ Today, some younger people find me to be cool.”

A diet free of any animal products has gained momentum in recent years. The landmark book The China Study has helped fuel interest in this diet, pointed to as beneficial for human beings’ health as well as for other living creatures and the environment. In recent years, adoption of a vegan diet by high-profile folks such as Bill Clinton and Michelle Pfeiffer has furthered sparked interest in a plant-based lifestyle.

Barry, who also is a fan of the café’s Guacamole, has frequented Raw Can Roll since it opened its Wayne location. “The vegan and raw [selections] drew me in,” he said, adding that he’s grateful for Raw Can Roll because few eateries cater to his dietary needs.

Barry’s list of favorites does not stop with avocado-infused dishes. “If I stay too long at Raw Can Roll, I go nuts and order everything,” he said. “It is like the male King of Prussia Mall for me on steroids—cash flies out of my wallet. 🙂 But I am also very happy to support the restaurant and vegan movement.”

Barry (D.M.D., M.S.D. and L.M.T.) has his office in the King of Prussia Medical Center. He founded The Gillespie Approach. Afflicted with headaches and sinus infections, which doctors could not resolve in the 1970s, craniosacral therapy and a vegan diet worked for him. In his TMJ/periodontal practice, he created a new method of treatment called craniosacral fascial therapy, or CFT.

“The work that I do appeals to people with open minds and on the cutting edge, like people who eat at Raw Can Roll,” Barry said.

Barry’s first book, Healing Your Child, about natural-care concepts for lay parents, hit the shelves in 1999, with Brain Therapy for Children and Adults published in 2000. This latter book is a teaching manual for his students.

Barry also works on the medical staff of The Family Hope Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He has trained its international team for brain-injured children in CFT.

Be sure to ask him about his passion and “retirement” in the newborn field. His research in helping 800 infants from America, Canada and Mexico led him to publish his third book, The Brain Score Approach, in 2010.

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Ivan Chavarria: ‘I Feel Gratification When I See People Eat My Food’

Ivan Chavarria

By Brian Rossiter

Lightning quick in the kitchen and prone to belting out song lyrics throughout the day, Ivan Chavarria is an integral part of the kitchen at Raw Can Roll Café. Most times when you see this 49-year-old Elverson, Pennsylvania, resident at the café, he’s smiling or whistling while preparing your meal, from Pad Thai to Creamy Avocado Salad and Taco Salad.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I feel gratification when I see people eat my food, and they love it. I feel as if I’ve made a contribution to their lives.”

Ivan said he’s especially enjoyed serving patrons in Raw Can Roll Café’s second location, in Wayne, who he finds to be very conscious of what foods they choose to put into their bodies.

Ivan is conscious, too, of the foods he eats. He said that he eats “everything” but that 70 percent of his selections are top-quality, healthful foods. He regularly brings in large portions of fruits such as papaya and melons to work.

Ivan learned his way around a kitchen at an early age, helping his mother and sister prepare foods for their family. “Preparing foods is easy for me,” he said. “It’s in my hands. When I work, I feel good because I can express myself through my hands by making good dishes.”

Ivan’s native land is Chile, and he keeps abreast of goings-on in this South American country by poring over newspaper articles online. He came to the United States in 1991, living in Los Angeles (“I love it—I love the weather,” he said) for 15-plus years before moving to Southeastern Pennsylvania, where he helped Sheryll Chavarria open Raw Can Roll Café at its original location in Douglasville, Pennsylvania. Raw Can Roll moved to Wayne in 2012.

Ivan has two sons, both of whom are in their 20s and live in Greater Philadelphia.

In his free time, Ivan enjoys working out at a gym, focusing on swimming and riding a stationary bicycle. “My body has to be engaged in activity,” he said, adding that he is recovering well from hip surgery after his left hip saddled him with pain several months ago. “I feel healthy.”

Ivan also enjoys going out dancing. “I love every kind of music,” he said. “Music is very important to my life.” He noted that it’s “impossible” for him to select his favorite artists and records because he’s a serious fan of too many genres, from ’70s rock to ’80s pop and ’90s hip-hop—all the way through today’s chart toppers.

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Fred de Long: ‘Raw Food Choices Are Better for You Nutritionally’

Fred-de-Long-outside

By Brian Rossiter

Fred de Long visited Raw Can Roll Café for the first time two years ago based on the recommendation of a Community Supported Agriculture member from Willistown Conservation Trust. Fred serves as director of Willistown Conservation Trust’s Community Farm Program, and his busy schedule limited his visits until this past winter, when he said he felt the need to make time to “ensure that I was still eating healthy during the winter.”

Fred is no stranger to the power a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can have on people. “Recently, I started concentrating on eating more raw vegetables,” he said. “I find that the juiced fruits and vegetables give me more energy, particularly wheatgrass.

“I grow food nine months of the year but for three months in the winter my diet suffers from the lack of fresh produce,” Fred continued. ” I have found that the juices are a good way to maintain healthy eating practices in the ‘offseason.'”

Moreover, Fred said he’s discovered that raw food—especially wraps and salads—provide him with a nutrient-dense lunch option compared with fare such as hoagies and pizza.

“You also know that the raw food choices are better for you nutritionally,” he said. “I never get that afternoon fatigue when I am eating raw foods throughout the day, and I feel more focused in my work.”

In the past 20 years, much of Fred’s work has been geared to teaching about the benefits of eating fresh, local produce. Willistown Conservation Trust hired Fred to develop a farm program that would educate the community about the importance of protecting open space for sustainable organic food production on the local level. Willistown Conservation Trust launched its Community Farm Program in 2008, and at this program’s center is Rushton Farm, which belongs to the 85-acre Rushton Preserve in the heart of Willistown.

Fred de Long with farming tools

Rushton Farm’s outreach has shown that farms and preserved land can coexist symbiotically, with crops and the surrounding ecosystem benefiting from this interrelationship, Fred said. Willistown Conservation Trust staff includes bird conservation specialists and deer management experts. This staff as well as students have explored the preserve’s positive impact on agriculture.

Rushton Farm has flourished through sustainably and organically farming 6 acres for the 120-member Community Supported Agriculture venture, Fred said. Members pay upfront for an opportunity visit the farm weekly to pick up their shares of crops. More than 150 varieties of fruits and vegetables are harvested each week from May through November. In June, CSA members might find greens, peas and broccoli; in August, watermelon, tomatoes and carrots might fill boxes.

“In this way, members learn about ‘eating seasonally’ and understanding that food, like the land, changes with the seasons,” Fred said.

Lately, Fred works the fields less and focuses on educating students to continue studies at Rushton Farm and Preserve, he said. Fred also works with land trusts across the country, speaking at conferences to promote the idea that small-scale organic agriculture can be a vital part of land conservation.

“Promoting small farms on conserved land can change food systems throughout our country by creating more options and better availability for fresh local food,” Fred said.

Fred is devoted to his passion, working long hours from March through November. Free time during these months is spent visiting farms across the nation, learning how their practices differs from Rushton Farms’ and how his farm might be able to be improved, he said. He also enjoys photography.

“Being outside 12 hours a day seven days a week on a farm and nature preserve offers a lot of great opportunities to capture the natural world,” he said.

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Samantha Rosenstock a ‘Shining Star’ at Raw Can Roll Café

Samantha Rosenstock, general manager of Raw Can Roll Café

Samantha Rosenstock (left), general manager of Raw Can Roll Café, is key in helping the café run smoothly.

By Brian Rossiter

Personable, smart, fast and agile—there is no shortage of adjectives to describe Samantha Rosenstock, who runs many day-to-day duties at Raw Can Roll Café as general manager.

While studying public communications and marketing at the University of Vermont in 2013, Sam learned about internship opportunities at the café through the father of her best friend on campus. “He knew that I wanted to be in the food industry and that I hadn’t had any experience, so he got me in touch with Sheryll Chavarria, and she offered (as a favor) to have me in the café for 10 days as an intern. They don’t offer 10 day internships but again she did it was a favor.

It didn’t take long for Sheryll, the owner of Raw Can Roll Cafe, to know that Sam is one inquisitive, driven young woman. On the first day, Sam asked question after question to learn how and why things are done at the café. Just 10 days later, Sheryll asked Sam to come to work as an assistant manager and to do marketing when she finished college.

“This was an amazing opportunity for Sam,” Sheryll said.

“I knew that with hard work, I could spread the word about the café and make it more known within the area,” Sam said. “I happily agreed and have been here ever since.”

From ensuring customers are served well and presented with consistently made, high-quality juices, smoothies, entrées and other dishes to training new employees and interns, She is quick to downplay her contributions and credits the entire staff and great business systems as the reason the café runs so smoothly.

Raw Can Roll has an amazing staff that she can rely on. The staff members are well-trained to know what needs to be taken care of on a day-to-day basis. I often create lists for myself as reminders. As long as everything is kept up, I very rarely need to ‘put out fires.’”

Business at Raw Can Roll Café has flourished. After two years on board (as intended from the start), Sam is now looking for a job to help take her to the next stage of her career and is in the midst of moving from Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood to Center City. She has an interest in food marketing.

“I’d love to own a company that focuses specifically on restaurant marketing, but you never know what the future brings,” she said. “Maybe my own cooking show on The Food Network—ha!”

Sam has learned to manage a team of people in a fast-paced environment at Raw Can Roll Café. “I owe so much to Sheryll for teaching me that,” she said. “In addition, how to make food from scratch is something I will continue doing for the rest of my life.”

“She has been a shining star for our café,” Sheryll wrote about Sam in a recent e-mail sent to Raw Can Roll Café subscribers.

Sam said she’s “obsessed” with Raw Can Roll Café’s Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie, having one every day. “I also love the freshness of the BLT,” she said, adding that she adds avocado to her sandwiches. “The guacamole and salsa is also hands down the best I’ve ever had—and I’ve had lots.”

Sam said she’s experienced health benefits since joining the café and eliminating almost all processed foods from her diet. When she eats something she ordinarily wouldn’t, she said she can feel the difference—“and not in a good way!”

“In general I feel much healthier and happier when eating a clean diet,” she said.

Sam is a fan of Jodi Picoult books and is a movie buff, calling Wedding Crashers “absolutely hilarious.” She enjoys Dave Matthews Band music and, in her free time, spending time with family and friends, practicing yoga, going out to new restaurants and cooking.

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