Cool Cat: Anita Shepherd

March 24, 2014

As a special segment of our blog, we’re featuring people from our community that have galvanized us on our path as a small business, as activists, as artists, and as engaged humans. These inspiring folks are doing super cool things. The feature is called “Cool Cat”, because each and every one of them has made us excited and want to be better at what we’re doing.

As part of a monthly trade arrangement (yes, I’m very lucky), I met up with the wonderfully positive, perpetually inspiring, Anita Shepherd of Anita’s Yogurt. I first met Anita at the Vegan Shop-Up, over her signature, cult favorite, vegan mac and cheese. I admired her from the get go, her menu was always creative, made with whole, pure ingredients and damn tasty.

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image(Photo yanked from the foragersnyc instagram)

I’ve watched Anita transition and grow her business from a vegan baking company (Electric Blue) to Anita’s Yogurt, focusing solely on making the most delectable, well-crafted, organic coconut milk yogurt this world has seen. Try it. Now.

And here’s our conversation…

Soundtrack for the morning:
On Saturdays Whitney Houston, Heart, or anything uplifting. On weekdays it’s Flute Meditation or Classical Harp radio to de-stress— paired with Meow Meow Tweet body mist they turn my bathroom into a deluxe spa!!

Soundtrack for the evening:
When I work late Headsprung radio on Pandora is my jam. Lots of 90’s hip-hop—the cheesier party anthem stuff. If you walk into my production space you will most likely catch me busting moves.

Favorite healthy snack:
Suzie’s Thin Cakes topped with Anita’s Yogurt and leftover blueberry puree. (I take blueberry puree to in-store demos so that people can try the yogurt plain or sweet.)

Favorite unhealthy snack:
Popcorn with lots of nooch! Is that unhealthy? I heard somewhere that nutritional yeast was originally invented for kids to gain weight. Either way, my hubby’s favorite food is popcorn, so we eat a lot of it. My secret is Seitenbacher poultry seasoning. (Don’t worry, there’s no chicken in that. Just delicious spices.) Euro Mart in Astoria has it.

Woods or Ocean?
OMG. I once visited a beach in Venezuela that had woods, ocean, stream AND mountains. And empanadas. I’m a glutton. I want it all.

Cats or Birds?
Birds! You only need one finger to pet them. (I’m lazy.)

Scented or Unscented?
I was an unscented girl all-the-way until I found Meow Meow Tweet! Now I’m smellin’ good with no itchiness or chemicals. Overcrowded L-train? Here I come!

Sweet or Savory?
The fine line between them is my favorite. It really takes a talented chef to hit that note. My most recent experience with this was a walnut levain from Runner & Stone bakery, ordered from GoodEggs.com (who also carries my yogurt). I could eat a whole loaf. You could do it up with butter and cinnamon-sugar, or with olive oil and herbs. It goes both ways! And of course it goes best with a dollop of yogurt.

Personal mantra?
It changes every day. Today’s mantra was “send it over the waterfall.” As soon as something stressful popped into my head, I saw it as a physical object, and sent it over the waterfall. Helped me let go of all the little things.

What started you doing what you do?
Before making yogurt my life was all about vegan baking. I was the pastry chef at a few restaurants and eventually made my own sweet and savory menu at Smorgasburg, and the Vegan Shop-Up (where I met Tara and Jeff). I could not find a good vegan yogurt to use in my dessert recipes. All the store brands had soy or were full of cheap additives. So I decided to make my own (with only coconut milk and cultures) and that is how Anita’s Yogurt began.

What keeps you doing what you do?
Knowing that there are other people out there who have the same problem. They deserve better quality than the cheap stuff that’s out there. If people who eat dairy can have yogurt with just milk and culture than why can’t we?

What’s next for you?
More yogurt. I am looking for my own facility!

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