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PLATINUM PRESS

And So We Weave

by Julie Miles / April 23, 2020

You might hear the crackling of a fire, and you might see a broken ray of light stir the dust in the air from the dirt floor room. And when the turn of the big metal spoon stirs the goodness in the kettle, you might get your first whiff of spice. Something as old as time, but alive, ... here, right under your nose. And so, our story begins ...


nicole mcconville2.450px.bw.If Reza Setayesh of BimBeriBon could cook with anyone in their kitchen, this is where he would be. In India, maybe, — or Southeast Asia, or with his grandmother back home in beloved Iran … somewhere where they cook in the ancient way. Early to rise prepping spices, letting the kitchen fill with sounds of chopping plants, roots, grinding seeds. Then, placing them in the pot to stew all day, slowly adding more, the way their mother, grandmother, and many did for hundreds of years before. And when the sun is high and the house is filled with heavenly aromas, gathering everyone together to share a mid-day feast. This is the power of food to Reza. This is food as life, which has contributed to longevity and happiness for people of ancient cultures for eons.  
{photograph by Nicole McConville}

FOOD AS LIFE

Blue Zones: specific pockets of the world where the oldest, happiest people can be found. Their secret? Healthy, local food; continual, relaxed movement of their bodies as they go throughout their daily tasks; and most importantly: a sense of community – which brings love and a sense of belonging.

Reza well understands this concept, and has created a very special place, with healthy, joyful food at its base, but certainly not the sole element. What he, his wife, Eva, and the BimBeriBon team have created stretch far beyond the eatery that typically pops into the mind’s eye. Why?

Let’s get a flavor for its elements below, then weave them all together to create the best recipe for pure joy and connection between food and people that I have heard in a Very. Long. Time.

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FOOD AS JOURNEY

PP:  How does food communicate happiness? health?

R:  “BimBeriBon (BBB) offers up plants in ways you have never had them before. We work with a lot of local vegetable and animal product farmers. Our bodies generate most of our energy from plants, so we make the vegetables the center of the plate, which is how the old world/ancient cultures, that we draw a lot of our ideas from, eat.    

We respect everyone’s food journey, so we have something for everyone. That has been one of the greatest comments we get from our customers: that they can come in with a party of 4 or 6 people, and everyone can find something on the menu that satisfies them.”

‘Food is a living thing. At BBB, food goes way beyond just flavor, or cuisine, and what it looks like. We want our food to touch you down to your deepest being, your spirit. We want the food to heal you, energize you, and make you happy. It’s real, feel good food.’

int3.450px.bwANCIENT CUISINE

PP:  How does food communicate culture? connection?

R:  “When I was drawing up the menus, I felt it important to start with ancient cuisines. We draw a lot of our ideas from cultures before wheat and sugar were used. In western culture, we consume way too much of those, so I wanted to be a respite from these. If you are celiac, or gluten intolerance, we are definitely the place for you.

By offering a world cuisine, people can all find something on the menu that they want, and their focus can be on enjoying their time together, and celebrating around food. And that’s what excites me: that we can give ALL the opportunity to be together.”

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{photograph by Nicole McConville}

FOOD AS MEMORY

PP:  What do you remember about your grandmother’s cooking?

R:  I remember my grandmother would start lunch early on in the morning, especially with some of the products that would take longer to cook. I remember waking up to the aromas of spices, herbs, and also the sounds of the kitchen, while tea was being brewed and breakfast was left on the table for everyone to gather to eat. Nothing fancy, often, a cup of hot tea, some sort of sweetener, some sort of fruit, (seasonal), a very local type of cheese, freshly baked bread. In Iran, we buy bread 3 times a day, and each has a purpose based upon what we are eating. Some are for breakfast, a quick roll or sandwich, some are for lunch, for dipping into the stews and to get every last drop of the sauce on the plate, and others are lighter for dinner, with some dried fruits and nuts, dates, and couple pieces of walnuts.

So, I grew up waking up to those sounds. Women did most of the cooking, and men did most of the barbecuing. That’s how my day started every day. 

My grandfather was born in Northern Iran, as was my grandmother. They came from a region that was right by the Caspian Sea. My grandfather loved his country and wanted us to see the different parts, so we traveled during the summer months, often.” 

PP:  The terrain of the Iranian countryside looks so beautiful. What do you remember about the landscape during your travels with your grandfather?

R:  Every place changed with the different influences which meant: different dialect, background, ethnicity; which meant different foods, delicacies, styles; different terrain, which meant how people actually lived, so it was super unique. Every year we looked forward to our 2 week journey throughout the country and learning about people, and living as closely as possible with them.”

‘There’s something special about breaking bread with someone you have never known, at a table. You get to learn their likes and dislikes. You get to learn so many deeper things about them than if you were just having a conversation with them without food, without breaking bread.’

the spICES

Umami: a savory taste that is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetnesssournessbitterness, and saltiness).  It has been described as savory and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats.

PP:  How do spices tell a story?

R:  “I am on a mission to create a new graph of what Umami means. Every culture has a different spice or herb that creates that Umami for that culture. It could be curry leaves in India, or hot chilis for South Americans, and sweet spices for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures. The spices take you to a culture, and talk deeply to what those cultures do with them, and they create that Umami or complete sensory experience for their food.

Once, when we were refining our Chinese crepe, a customer walked up to me and said, ‘I love these. I ate them for 5 years in the streets of Shanghai.’ So I asked, ’Tell me, how does mine differ than what you ate at the 50 cent stand that you walked up to?’ And they would say, ‘Put a couple more drops of the sauce that you are putting in there, and throw another egg on it.’ So we did, and the next time they came in they would try it and say, ‘You’ve nailed it. It’s exactly how I remember it in the streets of Shanghai!’ ” 

‘This is what’s beautiful about this business. You listen to your customers, you draw from other people’s experiences and sensory memories, and you incorporate it.’ 

the GATHERING space

BimBeriBon:  BimBeri, a high peak in Australia. Bon, a French word for good, well.

‘Helping you to live your peak of life – that is what our goal is.’

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PP:  What makes BBB more than just a restaurant?

R:  “When people walk into the door at BBB, I see in their eyes, what they are experiencing. From the first moment – the smell of what they are smelling, the sound of what they are hearing. It could be just the chatter of the other customers, the music in the background, or sounds in the kitchen. Then, the connection with our people, the smile that comes on their faces, and when they sit down and are served their dishes, the sensory experience starts all over again. It’s just like when you see a kid in a toy store. I really like creating that when you walk into all of my eateries. Because, if they feel that way, you’ve touched them deeply.”

‘These are the things that really excite me into trying new things and making food as medicine. It goes beyond just filling you up. It needs to touch every cell of your body.’

SOMETHING SO SIMPLE AS A CUP OF WATER

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R:  “Food goes beyond nourishment. It connects us. We have no expectations when it comes to the customer. When they come in, they may just need to plug in, and have a quiet moment in the corner. And, if we can be of service, that’s what matters to us. This is what our customers have taught us: they envision us as a gathering place. It goes beyond just the food. BBB has a fresh, casual service here. We don’t mandate how fast or slow you have to go. The sequence of the way you like to do things is in your lap. At BBB, you can come, whatever your need, even for just a cup of water.”

‘As a community, you need to keep your doors open, so they can come in whenever they want to, with whatever their needs are.’ Reza tells me.

SAVING THE WORLD, ONE CORN MUFFIN AT A TIME

PP:   hear you have a famous corn muffin. Tell me about that.

R:  “We were preparing something to be part of a meal for over 600 people at the Downtown Welcome Table. Many chefs were involved in this incredible group of people that are feeding a free community lunch for those in need in Asheville. When we decided to partner up, I wanted to make for them what I would love to eat.

‘I want to feed good food to ALL. Not just some.’

We wanted to create something very simple, humble, where no harm was done by serving this food, so we made it plant-based. It took several tries to get this muffin down because we don’t use refined sugar, and used coconut sugar instead. Everyone loved them, so we decided to serve them every day at BBB. They sell out every day. We put different fruits on it, and when you’re in, you should get one. We do have a lot of people that will just buy whatever we have. Now it is a staple of the restaurant. So that’s how the corn muffin came to be.”

“We are missionaries in life that are on a journey to not only enjoy what we do, but make sure that people who are our guests enjoy what we do as well. We want to be very transparent in what we do and what our mission is, and it’s to help ALL live better.”

and finally, on doing what you love

PP: How has Platinum Group helped you to Do What You Love?

R: “This is very easy one to answer. Platinum’s team and the support they provide uncomplicate the situations that arise on our daily path that we have no quick answer for. It’s very similar to coming into BimBeriBon and trusting that what you get is what you want based on what your needs are. Platinum is like my BimBeriBon for the areas that I don’t have a desire to have much of an expertise.

They help my community by being the support, being the answer, being the light that shines and clarifies whatever situation that has come along our path. So that’s the way I see Platinum. 

When I wake up and I have an email, and I don’t have an answer, I know that I can quickly let go of my anxiety and let go of my insecurity of not knowing the answer by relying upon the professionals at Platinum Group. And it has been repeatedly that this has happened and they have an answer. And, once again, they took care of the problem, and I can just move on and do what I love to do.

That to me is priceless. 

I have always been told that a smart businessman is one that surrounds themselves with people that know more than them and are more experienced in their area of expertise.

So that is how I rely on Platinum.”

Platinum Group is an HCM Payroll & Accounting firm in Asheville that celebrates our wonderful clients, keeping business local, and elevating our community by volunteer outreach. To see how we can support your business, visit us at: www.platinum-grp.com

{all other photographs by BBB}

    

Tags: Health & Wellness Local Business Personal Development

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Julie Miles

Julie Miles

Julie’s passion is to act as a liaison between the Platinum team, their wonderful clients, and the community, striving to tell their stories and make connections.

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