Made in Georgia: Atlanta’s Raw Head Bread keeps food simple

Chef Akil Amen (left) and Myriam Morisset started their raw foods company, Raw Head Bread, in 2017. CONTRIBUTED BY JENNA SHEA PHOTOGRAPHY

Myriam Morisset, of Raw Head Bread, and partner Akil Amen, a raw food chef, make dehydrated bagels, crackers, waffles and other "bready" treats that they sell at local farmers markets and online.

“Most raw food sandwiches use a thin flatbread, and I started off making those,” Amen said, “but they weren’t hearty enough for the kind of juicy sandwiches I like. So, we started making bagels, and then crackers, and that has turned into Raw Head Bread.”

The pair started Raw Head Bread in May, 2017. Amen likes to say he gave Morisset a “million dollar baby” when he suggested they make bagels. Working as a raw food chef, he was preparing meal plans for his clients, and making some pretty labor-intensive foods, such as raw food pizza, requiring a raw crust, cashew cheese sauce, and lots of vegetables.

A Raw Head Bread bagel is sturdy enough to hold the toppings in this sandwich version of a caprese salad, with just a little jalapeno for kick. CONTRIBUTED BY ANNA MARIA PARAMO

When he was preparing pizza for a large number of people, he kept thinking that bagels would give people a base for their own experimentation. “I gave Myriam two simple recipes to start with, and she ran with it, including coming up with the name for our business. And, she was the person who made the connections and got us into the farmers markets. As far as I know, we are the first to market raw bagels.”

Their offerings quickly grew to four kinds of bagels, including raw raisin and cumin turmeric, and four kinds of flax-based crackers and chips, including their first, “rawritos,” which are so popular you can buy them by the gallon. They created Coco Crunch Munch, their new sweet chip, and still produce flatbreads in plain, cumin turmeric and kale onion flavors.

Their carrot cake waffles and buckwheat bars also are hugely popular right now. “Everyone’s having fun with these sweeter items,” Morisset said. “The kids love the buckwheat bars, which we make in seasonal flavors, like strawberry and peach. Some of our customers eat them just as they are, but others crumble them on oatmeal or yogurt.”

After their start in 2017, Morisset was able to leave her full-time job in August, 2018. Many Saturdays and weekday afternoons find her at farmers markets around the city. Raw Head Bread sells at Freedom Farmers Market on the last Saturday of the month, as well as being a weekly presence at the Grant Park Farmers Market, the Green Market at Piedmont Park, the Ponce City Farmers Market and the new Oakhurst Farmers Market.

Flax seed-based crackers are a staple of the Raw Head Bread offerings. CONTRIBUTED BY ANNA MARIA PARAMO

Supplying products for all those markets means she’s in her commercial kitchen space at least two days a week. She works out of Marddy’s Shared Kitchen & Marketplace in southwest Atlanta.

The first four- to six-hour shift in the week finds Morisset mixing up bagels, and whatever else is needed for the week’s sales, then getting everything set in their four dehydrators.

The next day, she returns to cool and package the finished products. When possible, she sources the ingredients locally. Morisset also produces gluten-free crusts for S & J’s Woodfired Pizza, which sells at local farmers markets.

“That’s one of the things I love about the markets, how everybody supports each other,” Morisset said. “We buy from each other. We raise each other up. It’s how we are able to make great things happen.”

Raw Head Bread was started when chef Akil Amen decided that raw bagels would make a delicious breakfast or sandwich option. CONTRIBUTED BY RAW HEAD BREAD

The pair is grateful for the support of others as they work to expand their business. Morisset reeled off the names of Hashim Ahmed, Carl Dutton, Daryl Chan and Abdel Diab of the Emory Impact Investing Group at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and Jonathan Tescher and James Harris of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development at Clark Atlanta University. These groups have helped them with everything from financing to marketing and bookkeeping. Also providing support was Lauren Carey, former longtime manager of the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, who now operates a food business consulting firm, and who helped with the design of Raw Head Bread’s new packaging.

It also helps that Raw Head Bread’s owners believe in the importance of what they produce.

“We believe raw foods are simple,” Morisset said. “How many ingredients are in an apple? Compare that to the number of ingredients in the processed food you might be eating.”

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