A few years ago, Aimee Follette had what you might call a "moment of clarity."
She was working as a marketing director in the music industry, and couldn't figure out why she was feeling literally sick and tired all the time. "I worked hard and played hard, and ended up with chronic fatigue syndrome," she said. "I knew something was wrong, and began looking for answers to why I wasn't feeling radiant and alive."
That answer came in the form of musician Michael Franti, who invited her to join in a backstage yoga session prior to a performance at Red Rocks in Colorado. "He was operating on a completely different vibration, and I had an epiphany," she said. "It was a kick in the ass to turn my life around."
She quit the music biz, moved back to New York, and started running a Bikram, or "hot" yoga studio. "It lit the fire that had gone out in me," she said.
Recalling a mind-expanding meal of "raw food" that she'd eaten years prior, she decided to take the next step and become a raw food vegan. "It turned me on to how powerful raw food is," she said. "I woke up to the importance of nutrition. Food is medicine."
After visiting a juice bar in Paris that had become a full-fledged community center, Follette realized that her calling was to bring the experience back with her to Brooklyn. Just one month later, January 2010, she opened Sun in Bloom on Bergen Street between Fifth and Flatbush Avenues.
"I've never thought of myself as a chef or restaurateur," she said. "My dream was to share this passion and the experience people can have by choosing to eat real food. I put all my savings into the restaurant, and had to trust that it would work."
And it has. Sun in Bloom is one of the most unique restaurants in the city in that the entire menu is vegan, raw, and gluten free, and is focused on greens, macrobiotics, juices, and essentially the healthiest food imaginable. But that doesn't mean it's tasteless: through creative preparations (after a year of trial and error), the food that comes out of the kitchen is in fact the opposite.
The Bella Divine salad (above), is one of the top sellers and combines kale with dulse, housemade sauerkraut, avocado, and a sesame ginger dressing. The Bloom Burger is made from a combination of sunflower seeds, carrot, red pepper, parsley, onion, basil, scallions, and chickpea miso for an umami kick. There's also brunch (try the gluten free pancakes) and plenty of baked goods, like chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, and muffins.
"I'm not here to tell people how to live or to project a lifestyle, and I don't judge anyone who chooses otherwise," said Aimee. "People come here because they're sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and are curious about what they can do to feel good. When it's comebody's time to come it's time. When someone comes in and tells me how their life has changed, those are the interactions that keep me going."
Sun in Bloom, 460 Bergen Street Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-622-4303.