Liat Solomon, founder of the food brand Down to Earth, shared her day with The Bali Times’ Laurane Marchive
My dream came true.
I wake up at 6:30am to get my daughter ready for school and at 8am I drop her off. I go do some yoga or pilates, which is very important for me as I had to give up being a ballerina after 25 years because of a car accident, but I still need to keep fit.
After the class, I have lunch with customers at Zula, my first restaurant, or I go to my office, which is in Earth Café, my second one. I do nutritional consultations, working with people who have diseases or who just want to have a better diet and lifestyle. I’ve lost 12 women in my family to breast cancer, so I know how important it is to eat properly to stay healthy. Sometimes, I do preparations for weddings, helping the bride or maids of honor to lose weight.
If I don’t have any appointments, I focus on my company, Down to Earth, which includes a cooking school, my two restaurants and a line of products sold in supermarkets in Bali.
We use mainly organic products, and the food customers can eat in my restaurants is a mixture of all my influences. I was born in the Middle East, grew up in New York, lived in India and worked for Michio Kushi, a famous Japanese macrobiotic chef, for 10 years. I have worked for conventions in America, meeting cooks specializing in organic food from all over the world. Once, I prepared a meal for Al Pacino.
But even then, when people asked me what my plans for the future were, I answered, “One day, I will have my own business on a little island,” and that’s what happened – the dream came true.
When was living in Varanasi, India, I was sure India was the place I was supposed to be, but then a man read my hand and told me to head to Southeast Asia, and I came to Bali. That was in 1996, and I fell in love with the island straight away. I got pregnant soon after arriving in Bali, and after my baby was born, I traveled with her for two years, going to thrilling places like the Costa Rica’s jungle and India. I was cooking and teaching a bit; it was amazing. But my money ran out and I had to start working again, which is when I settled down in Bali and created Down to Earth.
For the first two months I had two girls helping me, cooking in my kitchen, packaging the food, making labels by hand and going by motorbike to offer shops our products. Pretty soon we got everything legalized, and in July 2003 Zula was established.
At first, the restaurant was very tiny, and I had to face a lot of difficulties, but we were the first ones in Bali to offer organic products such as brown rice, which I’m really proud of. After three years of having the central kitchen in my house, we moved to our current location. A year later Earth Café was born, and in 2007, it extended to Earth Market, a place where customers can find all kinds of original and health and eco-friendly products that come from everywhere.
Taking care of all those different things, and the 45 people working for the company, takes a lot of time, so I spend every afternoon organizing different aspects of Down to Earth, calling suppliers and the distributors and thinking up new products.
I leave the office around 5 or 6pm, and go back home. If I don’t have to give cooking lessons, I just play my mother role and spend time with my daughter. Even then, I’m planning ideas for the future of the company.
I usually go to bed at midnight, which is late, but before sleeping I sometimes read, watch television or check my emails and organize new things with customers. I have a lot of new plans, and the business keeps me busy all the time. Last year, we opened The Promised Land Project, a space for green events like the markets we have already held. I would also like to organize yoga and dance lessons and make it a place where people can gather. I am also planning to open a yoga and dancewear boutique on the second floor of the Earth Café, which requires some organization.
I like what I do. I live from my passion, and this passion touches more and more people. With the global increase of prices, consuming organic products doesn’t cost more than eating any other kind of food, and even if it did, people are now realizing that they have to think about the long run, and that consuming organic products is the path to health and personal freedom.