Thursday, July 22, 2010

V.I.P. Spotlight: Clara

This past January, Follow Your Heart hosted an evening with a prix fixe menu created and prepared by none other than Tal Ronnen, author of The Conscious Cook. I went for the book-signing portion of the event and took a place in line behind a lovely 12-year-old and her equally lovely mother. We started chatting and, in that moment, Clara, her mom, and I became fast friends. Clara, now 13 years old and proprietress of her own baking company (look up Clara's Cakes on Facebook), has been one of my most admired people ever since. With that, I am proud and honored to interview Clara for the very first Hugger Food interview with a V.I.P. (Vegan Important Person).

1. You're very well-known in Los Angeles (and beyond!) for baking innovative vegan treats. Are you working on any new creations at the moment?

I don't know about well known...but, yes, I am working on some new creations. There are some you probably haven't heard of before (at least in a cupcake), like Orange Dreamsicle, Root Beer Float, and a couple more!

2. Those sound fantastic! Besides being an excellent baker, you're quite a skilled chef. What are your top 3 favorite savory recipes?

Why thank you, but my mother does most of the cooking, but I do enjoy cooking! I've been digging the Spanokopita recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance. I love cooking simple things, like ginger tofu and roasted potatoes. My mom makes amazing eggplant parmesan from her own recipe.

3. You have convinced some of your friends to adopt a vegan lifestyle. What has been your most effective tool for advocacy?

Taking them to vegan places or events. Places where there's support or restaurants that have amazing vegan food. Also, my blog helps. Probably the best tool is educating them in a passionate, but not preachy way.

4. There are many people who look up to you as an example of compassion and veganism. Who do you look up to as role models?

Where do I start? Well, of course you, since you were one of the very first vegans I met who motivated me. [Aww, thank you, Clara!] Casey Suchan and Denis Hennelly, they made the amazing movie Bold Native! When you talk to Casey she really pays attention to what you have to say, even if there are a million other people wanting to talk to her! Peter Young, for sure. I think all activists look up to him. Carol Glasser, she's such a smart activist. Shannon Keith, of course; (although, I didn't watch it) it must take a lot to make a film like Skin Trade and I'm so glad she did. Basically all vegans/activists I look up to since they're all so passionate and unique. Chef Chloe Coscarelli! She's so nice! Most importantly, my mother. She inspired me to become vegan and takes me everywhere!

5. Being a teenager is really tough, but you don't seem to be going through the typical teenager malaise. Do you think being vegan has played a part in your graceful transition into your teen years?

Thanks! It definitely has helped. Being a vegan keeps me busy and lets me meet a lot of people so I feel very loved, and I think that's a part of it. And I'm not eating all those hormones that would be in dairy [and other animal products]!

6. Recently, you've attended animal rights-themed film premieres, kicked off the Los Angeles VegWeek, and attended a circus protest. What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Hanging with my friends, Animal Acres, going to San Francisco/Berkeley, hopefully this music festival that all of my favorite bands are playing, and baking of course!

7. Do you have any final thoughts to share with the Hugger Food readers?

Try my cupcakes!

Thank you, Clara!

Those of you in the L.A. area will have a chance to try Clara's cupcakes at the ARME Shopping Day benefit being held at the Beverly Garland Hotel, 4222 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood on Sunday, July 25, from noon until 5 p.m. Vendors include Clara's Cakes, raw vegan cuisine, jewelry, clothing, and more.

New Yorkers will have an opportunity to see a screening of Bold Native this Monday, July 26, at 7 p.m. or 9:15 p.m. at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, NYC (details and tickets available here). The first screening will be hosted by Russell Simmons and the filmmakers (with special guests) will be present for both screenings.

A very special thank you to Melissa Schwartz for permission to use the gorgeous photo she took of Clara above!

UPDATE: With sincere apologies for not including the link to Clara's blog from the outset, you can find Clara in Veganland here. Enjoy!


quarrygirl said...

love the interview! i haven't had a chance to try clara's cupcakes....but i can't wait. i think it's rad she is such a a passionate vegan at such a young age. <3

Anonymous said...

i have tried them and i <3 them!! they are some of the most creative and delicious i have ever had!

Anonymous said...

I love this! I often think about how I wish I had been educated about veganism back in high school. Clara seems like a very cool chick.

River - Wing-It Vegan said...

What a beautiful and articulate baker! I loved the interview, and I wish I could have some Orange Dreamsicle cupcakes right now!

VeganCraftastic said...

What a cool interview, thanks for sharing!

Emily said...

What a great interview! Clara is so inspirational being such a passionate vegan at only 13. I was wondering if you could post the link to her blog? Thanks!

Hannah said...

That is amazing- And everyone said that -I- started young! How every inspiring.

trina said...


JennShaggy said...

Damn those cupcakes look delicious.

Got your surprise in the mail, too. Thank you so much for resending.

We move in two weeks, so I'll be sure to let you know our wherabouts.

Hope you're well :)

Kris said...

I wish I was that cool when I was 13! Go Clara!

Amey said...

what a cute little interview. Clara seems like such a cool kid!

I also wanted to get back to you about those Persian Saffron Raisin Cookies... I didn't really use any one recipe, but if you do a search on google, you'll find tons of links and recipes. I looked at a bunch of them and did a sort of amalgamation, which I don't quite remember (unfortunately). But they were very yummy indeed!


Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...