Saturday, March 1, 2014

Catching Up With Chef Stacey of Simply Pure

We confess, we love our meat but every now and again our bodies feel sluggish and that’s when we know it’s time to do some detoxing. Thank goodness there’s a great little spot in Vegas that meets our clean eating needs that not only is incredibly healthy but yum yum yummy in our tummies. Simply Pure serves up completely raw foods in an imaginative way and is the brainchild of local Chef Stacey Dougan. We caught up with her to get the scoop on her interesting background (from music artist development to Wynn Las Vegas chef to small business owner!) and the roller coaster ride of opening a business from scratch. Pull up a seat, break out the kale salad, and enjoy as we get to know Chef Stacey a little better.


Winky Designs: How did your love of raw food come about?
Stacey Dougan: My background is actually in music and entertainment. About 12 years ago I was working as the director of artist development for Universal Music Group in Atlanta, GA. I was making lots of money, young, not married and no children so I was open to new opportunities. I've always been a go-getter and entrepreneur. Some friends, at the time, approached me about opening a raw vegan cafe and needed me as an investor. I decided it would be a great idea considering there were no vegan raw restaurants in Atlanta at the time. I ended up working in my investment/cafe and that is how I grew to love raw vegan food. It was all trial and error. I never went to culinary school. I just kinda figured it out. I also healed myself of Candida and a terrible case of eczema/psoriasis by adopting a raw food diet.

W.D.: What made you decide to leave your position at Wynn Hotel and open up your own restaurant?
S.D.: I'm just not a very good employee. Never have been, never will be. Lol. Wynn was temporary for me and I knew that from the first day I started working there. Don't get me wrong, I learned a ton! I am extremely grateful to my executive chef at the Wynn because he taught me how to cater large and small parties with excellence. They spare no expense at Wynn so it “upped” my game so to speak. But I've always wanted to open another restaurant. I actually have a vision board and my goals written. It states that “I will open my own chain of upscale vegan/raw food restaurants all over the world”. I guess Simply Pure is the first one of the vision!
Raw Chili Cheeze Fries
W.D.: How has your faith played a role in the decisions you've made?
S.D.: That is a great question...My faith has everything to do with the decisions that I've made. My decision to become vegan came from my faith in God and the fact that I did not want something to bleed and die in order for me to live. One of the 10 commandments is “Thou shalt not kill”. I don't think God was just referring to killing people because He never stated just people. But let me get off of my soap box. Let's just say that I do everything in my power to make good decisions based on doing what is right, even if it hurts. I always do my best to do what I know is right. Not just because other people are looking, but because God is looking and I believe in karma to the fullest.

W.D.: What were some unexpected lessons/outcomes you've learned during the process of opening your store at The Container Park?
S.D.: I know one thing that I didn't expect was the amount of money it would take to open up this place!  Good lord! Lol...But it's all good. We raised the money and we are doing very well. Now moving forward, I really didn't expect people to be so open and receptive to our food. I mean it's vegan and we don't cook a darn thing! But people love it and for that, I am thankful. I also didn't expect to do as well (financially) as we have been doing. At least not so early. I've actually had to hire 3 new employees..well I like to call them teammates because we are a team. The biggest lesson I've learned is to have faith and trust the process.  Trust in God. Ask Him for what you want and then look for the opportunities and the gifts. They are always there, sometimes as a disguise, but there nevertheless.
Raw Pad Thai
W.D.: What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs, women in particular?
S.D.: The best advice I can give is to move forward in spite of fear. I find that so many people are held back by fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what others may think or say fear, fear, fear...It's ok to fail.  You just gotta get back up, learn from the failure and keep moving forward. To the women I would say, know and learn your power. We have so much power it's unbelievable. Often times, women have to balance and juggle a lot more than men i.e. children, work, managing the home etc. But we do it, we are master multitaskers. Know your power and move in spite of fear.

W.D.: What are some personal goals and aspirations you have for 2014?
S.D.: a) To expand Simply Pure into a recognized brand in Las Vegas and to begin working on our chain of restaurants. b) To complete and publish my raw and vegan cookbooks. c) To expand our catering and private chef division (with Baby I Like It Raw – my other company with co-founder Shane Stuart) so that we are the number one caterers for vegan and raw cuisine in the city of Las Vegas. d) To help all of my team mates achieve their goals and aspirations for 2014. I have a lot more, but those will do for now...more to come. Stay tuned ; )

Thank you Chef Stacey for being so warm and open with us! Now that we're thoroughly hungry, we'll be stopping by soon to get some of your fabulous vegan chocolate ganache (it's to DIE for!). Only if all desserts were as guilt free as yours...*sigh* Make sure to stay in touch with Chef Stacey and the team at Simply Pure on their Facebook and visit them at their Las Vegas, NV location!

  • Downtown Container Park 
  • 707 Fremont Street Suite 2310
  • Las Vegas, Nevada 89101