Q&A with Kim Gabelmann

Q&A with Kim Gabelmann
March 1, 2016 pwip
Kim Gabelmann

Burnt out from a successful but strenuous career in TV advertising sales, Kim Gabelmann discovered the rejuvenating wonders of juice. It wasn’t long before she’d ditched her once beloved job, sold her Tribeca apartment, and took off with her dog on a series of cross-country research road trips all of which resulted in the much lauded vegan kitchen, juice, and art space better known as consciousfork℠. Nestled in the charming village of Warwick, NY, consciousfork℠ opened its door in June of 2012.

consciousfork℠ stands for the “forks in the road” for the decisions we face each day, big or small. It also stands for conscious eating (fork); sustainable agriculture (pitch fork) and Gabelmann’s last name, means “fork man” in German.
In addition to being the owner and founder, Kim is also a certified holistic health coach, and a business consultant for mission-based brands, companies and entrepreneurs. www.consciousfork.com

All images: Hannah Maxwell Photography for consciousfork℠

Your tagline is “nourishing the mind, body & soil.” Can you talk a little more about how that concept plays into consciousfork℠?
consciousfork℠ is a vegan kitchen and juice bar. Located in Warwick, NY, a rural suburb of NYC. When we opened 3.5 years ago, the goal was to create a business that helped people connect with real food – food that is not processed, is free from harmful toxins and is sourced locally. We believe a plant-based diet can yield huge benefits for our health, the environment and our animal friends.

We make everything from scratch in our open kitchen and strive to have little to no food waste. All the pulp from our juice bar goes into compost.  Our main focus is on the mighty vegetable. We are so blessed to live in a region that so many varieties of vegetables grow abundantly during several seasons of the year.  Food that is grown locally in nutrient-rich soil, that doesn’t travel far to get to your plate, is the most sustainable way to eat. Healthy soil => healthy plants => healthy food => healthy people!

What led you to start consciousfork℠?
Well, I am passionate about food and love animals and could never understand eating them.  I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of 10.

However, none of that led me on my original career path in the television advertising industry. Prior to launching consciousfork℠ I was enjoying a successful career in NYC, and working for wonderful companies, such as Comedy Central and Sundance Channel. It was while working at Sundance, that my life was forever changed. First, a colleague of mine introduced me to a juicing retreat which became my #1 one tool for managing my health and keeping up with the “rat race.” Secondly, we were producing a plethora of environmental programming at the time, and I learned so much about sustainability and eco-entrepreneurs who were creating businesses that were good for the environment but also the bottom-line. I was totally inspired by these stories and yearned for the same thing. I had been reading a lot about the “slow food movement” and knew that my passion was around food and the “locavore” mentality. So after 18.5 years, I walked away from a great job and the only industry I ever knew, with the dream of becoming an eco-entrepreneur. I spent the next two years business consulting for a couple of clients while getting my certification as a holistic health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as well as writing my business plan for consciousfork℠.

I felt Warwick was a perfect “test market” for my concept with its charming village, strong sense of community, beautiful farms, rich soil and close proximity to NYC. Plus, it was virtually void of healthy and local food options. So we opened our doors in June 2012, offering fresh pressed juices, smoothies and vegan comfort food.

What drives the menu, and how do you come up with new dishes?
Everything on our menu is 100% plant-based. We aim to create simple and tasty dishes, where vegetables are the star. Vegetables are truly incredible, there are so many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures to work with and the seasonality of them keep things interesting throughout the year. The main draw at our restaurant is our “whole bowls,” where you pick a base of quinoa or brown rice plus three vegetables (we usually have eight to ten vegetable preparations to choose from) plus a protein, like black beans, hummus or baked tofu and topped with one of our delicious sauces.  It’s tastes great and keeps you nourished throughout the day. We also have unique sandwiches, fabulous soups, salads and our famous macaroons, along with our full service juice bar. Our wellness shots have become very popular, especially the “sundance” shot which I had fun doing with Susan Rockefeller at her last film screening in Brooklyn. We even offer some of the healthiest cocktails, you’ll ever have… think, carrot orange ginger vodka!

You also sell produce and food products to your customers. Do you think this helps deepen the connection with the food we eat, whether we are cooking for ourselves or dining out? 
Absolutely. We believe in transparency and also like the things we do to have “more than one purpose.” Therefore, the ingredients we use in our kitchen are for sale while also serving as part of our decor. We have loads of jars filled with grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, teas etc. and they are all available in bulk, so guests can buy only what they need without the unnecessary packaging that comes from store bought packaged goods. Additionally, we always have seasonal produce displayed by our Point of Sale, and I believe when people see hearty bunches of kale, for example, they connect deeper to the food they are about to eat; you can just see the energy and life force in those vegetables and know it’s going to make you feel good.

This coming spring, we are delighted to be starting our very own two acre farm in the abundant Black Dirt region, where we will be growing vegetables for our restaurant and also hope to have even more local produce to sell to our community.

What are some small changes people can make to achieve positive changes for their own health and that of the environment?
Well, eliminating meat is the biggest thing you can do for the environment, but I know that’s not a realistic outcome for most. But try to limit your amount per week and buy from a sustainably sourced company.  Meat (including poultry) is extremely hard to digest and the root cause to many of the health issues in this county. Focus on eating whole foods and nothing processed. One of my favorite Michael Pollan quotes is “Eat food made from a plant. Not food made in a plant.” And the more locally sourced your food is, the better. Try growing something, even it’s just some herbs in a pot on your windowsill. Nothing tastes better or is more nutritious and inspiring than eating something you grow yourself.

Are there any smoothie or juice recipes you can share with readers who want to begin making small changes in their diet?
Surely. We are diligently working on the consciousfork℠ cookbook, where we will be giving away all of our recipes and secrets! A question I am often asked is “what’s better for you, a smoothie or a juice?” And the answer is both! A smoothie made in a blender has the nutritional value of its contents, while also holding onto the fiber. A juicer will extract the pulp of the vegetables (i.e. the fiber), making it the quickest way to get nutrients into your body, while also making it easy for your body to digest. So replace several meals a week with “liquid meals” and you’ll start seeing a positive change in your health.

Here’s one recipe for one of our most popular juices, packed with nutritional value!

Claire’s Garden
1 (medium) beet
3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 apple
and a few stems of parsley

What’s in store for the future of consciousfork℠? Any thing exciting on the horizon or dream projects you’d like to achieve for the business?
So many things! Well, I already mentioned that we are working on our cookbook and have our farm starting this year. Those are the big areas of focus. But, we are also working on R&D for a wholesale distribution model of our food offerings to be made available into retail locations in NYC and the surrounding region. We are currently collaborating with food scientists to test shelf life etc, so that project will take some time to come to fruition but it’s definitely in the works.

If I am really thinking about the ultimate dream project for “someday,” it would be to continue expanding on our farm and eventually having it extend into a sanctuary for animals. That’s the ultimate dream that me and a couple of my key employees would love to manifest. We shall see.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that we’d love for your readers who are in the NYC area to come check us out! We are open 7 days a week and located just 60 miles from NYC, yet once you get here, you’ll think you’re in Vermont for all the open space and farms. consciousfork℠ is located in the heart of the village, a great day trip! Visit our website or give us a call us for more information (845) 988-KALE.