As I prepared for my call with Christopher Remaley at Rejuicenate I was a bit skeptical about interviewing yet another juice company, wondering how different they were from their competitors. I planned to dig deep and see what would surface and I was not disappointed. Read on to find out more. In the meantime, Happy juicing!
Hi Chris, tell us how you ended up in Singapore and the journey of how Rejuicenate came to be.
I moved to Singapore in July 2012 because my wife, to whom I recently married, took a job here and it seemed like a fun adventure. Rejuicenate started in January 2013. It started because I needed to find juice. In New York, where we came from, we were juicing quite frequently and when we first moved to Singapore there wasn’t a juice company. Rejuicenate started from this need to have good quality juice and make it accessible to more people. So we thought, we can do this and we can probably do it better. We launched it last January and it’s been going strong ever since.
So the company consists of you, a skilled chef, and Berthsy Ayide,an experienced nutritionist.
Yes, she lives in New York, but we work very closely. In the beginning she came out to Singapore where we worked together tweaking the calorie content and nutritional value of each juice until we had the right formula and ensuring we had juices that tasted great without all the excessive sugar.
Although she lives in New York, I make her accessible to my clients should they have any nutritional questions or request nutritional consultations.
So Chris, I hear that you have quite an extensive background in the culinary field working with some pretty amazing chefs. How has that given you an edge in the increasingly competitive market of juice detoxing? What sets Rejuicenate apart from other juice companies in Singapore?
I grew up on a farm. My grandmother Rose was a cook/farmer so that kind of forged my love of cooking at a young age, around seven or eight. It started from there. Then I went to Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC and then from there embarked on a culinary odyssey to France, London and then to New York where I spent most of my life. I worked at some Michelin three star restaurants along the way and I was the private chef for Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen prior to moving to Singapore. So I’ve kind of been all over the place. It’s been a wonderful career so far. No complaints. A good journey.
Going back to your question about my experience and how it plays into what we do, I think it’s pretty important. So many juice companies are opening and I wish them well, I hope they all succeed, but a lot of them have zero experience in food and beverage whatsoever. So that’s what we bring to the table. I set up my shop just like a Michelin kitchen; I run it like it’s a Michelin kitchen. The juices are different because I’m actually making them. I’m the one there every day making them. We worked really hard to keep them healthy, but make them more palatable than the other guys. So you’re not thinking, “oh no, not the green juice again.” You actually want to drink our green juice and you crave it because it really does taste so good. Take a sneak peak into the kitchen here!
Another thing that sets us apart from our competitors is that we are always 100% organic. If I can’t find a particular ingredient at an organic farm, then we substitute with something else. From the salt to the cinnamon to the fruits and veggies, everything is organic. I think that is so important especially if you’re juicing because if you’re not using organic items you’re just grinding up and ingesting all those toxins.
Being 100% organic is so important to us. Like I mentioned before growing up on a farm, my grandmother was farming the land organically before it was the cool thing to do. That was just how my family farmed the land. I don’t know if it was for ethical reasons or that they just couldn’t afford the pesticides, but that’s what we did. I have a huge love and appreciation for farming. We try to source locally as much as possible. It’s difficult on a small island like Singapore, but there are a couple of farms that grow things and we support them 100%. I have a couple of farms that are growing things specifically for my company such as kale and pineapple.
Do all your produce come from Singapore?
No, I wish, as much as I can, though. I have two farms in Singapore that I use and then I have a farmer in Malaysia that has 12 small organic farms and they supply us with things such as kale. Our coconuts are from an organic farm in Thailand. My wife is Thai so when we visit Bangkok we drive out to the countryside to see these farmers. We’ve become pretty good friends with them. We try to get to know the people that we’re buying stuff from and support the small guy as much as we can.
Your grandmother was ahead of the game.
She sure was. Everyday in the summers I would go to the farm and collect eggs and they were still warm and so fresh. My grandmother composted as well. I was more interested in what she was doing in the kitchen versus playing outside. She’s definitely my inspiration.
What are the must-have ingredients in the kitchen for juicing?
Kale. It’s the basis for all the green juices that we make. It’s just so unbelievably healthy for you. It has more calcium than milk, more magnesium than red meat. It’s just a superfood. Beetroot is another superfood. The most detoxifying on the list.
Do you juice yourself? If yes, how often and how does it benefit you?
I drink juice everyday. I start my day with beet juice every morning and I taste the juices throughout the day before they go into the bottle. Generally speaking I’ll do a five day cleanse every three months. I don’t really eat breakfast because I have my juice and have a sensible lunch and dinner.
There is a lot of debate about juice fasting. What are your thoughts about the claims and how often do you recommend people to juice?
A lot of people say your body detoxes itself, that’s why you have kidneys and that’s why you have a liver. Yes that’s true, but I liken it to a car, if don’t change the oil in your car every so often your car starts to run pretty badly. I feel the same about the body, every three months you need to give your body a break and flush out the sodium build up and the toxins we’re breathing in and ingesting. So I don’t agree with the statement that it’s bad for you. I know a lot of doctors say you don’t need it, but that’s just because they want you come to their office and pay money so they can give you medicine. That’s kind of how I feel about that.
The key to our juices is to keep the natural sugar content very low. A lot of concern from doctors and nutritionists is that juicing will affect your metabolism. Our juices will not do that. You will not see a spike in your metabolism. They are very low on the glycemic index. You won’t see a sugar rush.
The natural sugar in these fruits is quite deceiving. That’s why we only use a little apple here and there to take out the bitterness. We don’t add a bunch of fruit to sweeten up the juices.
The key to mixing is not to mix too much acidic fruit with leafy greens because the acid in the fruit will actually kill the enzymes and nutrients in the green juices. So when you see these juices that are coconut and mango mixed with the green stuff, it’s kind of pointless to me, it’s killing the active enzymes in the green foods and beets and carrots as well.
With all that you’re offering your juices don’t seem to be overly expensive.
Yes, we’re priced pretty competitively and I wanted to keep it that way. Technically, I should probably be charging a lot more, but I wanted to be competitive and still give people 100% organic. We’re passionate about it and we stand by our product. I hope to grow the business organically by reaching each person and meeting each person’s needs instead of selling 500 cleanses on Groupon and not ever knowing a person’s name, their health. We get really deep into it and try to find out each person’s health concerns, what their goals are. It’s a very personalized service that we’re trying to offer.
My phone number and email is on every correspondence that is sent out. I’m always available. I sometimes get calls at midnight; sometimes I don’t think people sleep! But I’m always around to answer questions for people, as is our nutritionist via Skype or email.
I also have a 70% return rate. We really educate the client and care about what we do. We believe in forging lasting relationships. Most of the people who come to me want to make a lifestyle change. We’re not a quick fix.
For juicing rookies like me, what advice would you give?
Take it slow and really do your research. Ask a lot of questions. It’s a difficult process, but it’s very rewarding. You need to know where your juice is coming from and who’s making it. Organic is very important to me in that sense because conventional stuff, you don’t know what’s been used to modify it or kill off bugs. You’re just ingesting that stuff and putting it right into your system.
People say, “well it’s so expensive, I could just buy a juicer and do it at home.” I guess you could, but you’d have to source all the organic stuff we spent a year doing. There’s about 7kg of fruits and vegetables in 18 bottles of a three-day cleanse.
Its quite labor intensive and it’s very, very concentrated. It takes about 2 ½ hours to make one cleanse. A lot of people don’t see that. People don’t realize that it takes time.
Do your research, know your source and ask a lot of questions. If you’re just doing conventional then you might as well not juice. Do organic and know where it’s coming from.
Thank you for your time, Chris. It sounds like you have a great thing going here with Rejuicenate and I’m super psyched to start my own juice detox soon! Make sure to have your phone on, as I’ll probably be the one calling you for moral support.
Don’t forget to say hello to Rejuicenate at the SOULSCAPE event. They will be having a on-event contest and giving away juice cleanses!
For more information on SOULSCAPE, go to www.soulscape.sg.