10 Aug Team Talk with Rafia Willmott
Rafia pictured above with daughter, Eliane
You’ll probably have heard all about her by now as she’s genuinely an inspiration to everyone who meets her, including the full team at Eliane, but we think you might be interested in knowing a little more about her, right?
Of course, we’re talking today about Rafia, Co-Founder and Director of Eliane.
Let’s start by rewinding to before Eliane opened its doors in Hungerford for the first time back in 2014. You see, most people aren’t aware that Rafia was an archaeologist before she became a restaurateur. But when her husband, John, who she also worked alongside in the investment field, became seriously ill, she realised that she needed a different focus in life.
If you’ve read this page here, you’ll already know that she met Mark Kimchi, Eliane’s other co-founder, during John’s illness. Rafia consulted Mark for assistance with his treatment after conventional methods failed to produce positive results. Mark, a researcher into corrective diet for diseases, implemented a plant-based whole-food diet which Rafia and John adopted immediately.
Finally, the results started to go in the right direction and John now, thankfully, has a clean bill of health once more.
Whilst going through this journey, Rafia and John struggled to eat out, one of their favourite things, because the food on offer simply didn’t match up with their new diet. That’s when the idea for Eliane was first born.
With Marks assistance, they put plans in place to open the first of the Eliane dream, located in Hungerford and serving mouth-watering food for everyone whilst never compromising on nutritional integrity.
Rafia states that her greatest professional achievement was definitely, “The opening of my own business, Eliane, and seeing it flourish, going from strength to strength. The past four years have been incredibly rewarding as they validate the fact that many people are seeking the type of food we are offering.”
She feels that Eliane offers something completely unique, as you’ll find massive choice with a consistent health-conscious focus – there’s raw vegan, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free offerings, organically sourced ingredients, wholefoods, supplements and all cooked dishes are prepared with raw virgin coconut oil only.
Outside of Eliane however, you’ll often find Rafia doing anything creative, such as working on interiors, watercolour painting or cooking (we know, obvious that last one!). Always one to support others, she also conducts a lot of charity work, particularly in Nepal due to the earthquakes recently which have impoverished many people.
But what is Rafia’s take on the Eliane dream? She says, “I would like to Eliane to be a fixture on every high street! I would also hope that in doing so, we would have educated many more people as far as conscientious eating is concerned. I would also like to write another cookbook (or two) as already, there are many requests from customers coming in for new recipes which we have created and a new book to go with them! I would also like to open a non-profit eatery, with any profits providing a better quality of life for underprivileged children in Nepal.”
And Eliane’s secret sauce, in Rafias view: “Eliane really does offer something for everyone! So many businesses say that they offer choice but we really have covered this from every angle. Whether you’re after an indulgent coffee and a piece of Victoria sponge, or are completely raw vegan, or are on a clean, cancer recovery diet like my husband, there really is something for everyone.”