When Rakhel Yisrael began selling her homemade vegan cuisine in 2009, she had few resources, but a lot of ambition. “I had a cooler that was able to strap on my back and I would make deliveries on my bicycle,”
Yisrael told the AFRO, March 20. “I would speed down U St. to drop off deliveries to the Universal Capoeira [Angola] Center.” Yisrael’s love for food came at an early age. “When I was a child, I used to cook all the time at home and I always liked trying new spices,” she recalled. “I would have my family taste it and they were like ‘Yeah that’s good!’”
After high school, she met a former classmate who introduced her to vegan cuisine. She became an assistant chef at Soul Vegetarian Restaurant on Georgia Ave. northwest, D.C. and Everlasting Life Cafe in Capitol Heights, Md.
In 2009, she spent six months in Israel where her knowledge of vegan food deepened as well as her skills in hospitality and food service. Though she’d grown up on fast-food chains and local carryout, mixing vegan and processed food began to disagree with her body. Soon, she began exploring literature that spoke to the benefits and guidelines around healthy eating.
“I started reading a lot about how fruits and vegetables cleanse the body,” she says. “I also read in the Bible in Genesis Chapter 9 where it says ‘flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat’ and every plant is given to us for food. So that was one of the major reasons that I changed my diet – I could not believe that it said that in the Bible.”
After transitioning fully to veganism, she’s experienced results that have helped her individually and as a person of color. “Once I started eating more fruits and vegetables, I started to understand myself more and my thoughts became more clear,” she says. “[And] I believe eating vegan is very important for the Black community because it helps us to really reach our highest self.”
In 2012, Yisrael officially launched Rakhel’s Live Cuisine as a catering service. Over the years, growth became necessary. “I realized that I needed help and to serve more people, I couldn’t just do it on one single bike,” she says.
She created a budget and was able to hire a driver. On a typical week, she caters about four events and prepares meals for over two-dozen personal customers. “The number [of customers] is growing because a lot of my customers have been referring people to me—they’ve been my PR,” she says.
She also moved from preparing meals in Columbia Heights to a kitchen in southeast, which is known to be a food desert for healthy options.
The key in serving vegan food, like any other cuisine, is creating meals with flavor and soul. On Yisrael’s menu, the barbeque steak, steak and gravy, raw pizza and salads like ginger kale, coconut curry kale and sweet basil kale have customers coming back for more.
When she isn’t coming up with new concepts for her business, she continues to gain experience in the restaurant industry as the raw chef at Senbeb Cafe in northwest, D.C.
It’s definitely been a long journey – I’ve grown a lot and I’ve been doing a lot more,” she says. “The next step is a restaurant or a cafe.”
To view Yisrael’s weekly menus, cooking tips and recipes, visit http://rakhelslivecuisine. tumblr.com/. To get in touch with Yisrael, she can be reached at 202-460-9913.