A little while ago I had the pleasure of meeting Josh Sparks, owner and CEO of THR1VE – a unique food outlet providing nutritionally balanced and paleo meals, snacks and supplements. What’s different about THR1VE is that the food is delivered fast for busy people on the run, and they are genuinely interested in helping people achieve better health. The menu has been carefully designed by qualified chefs and nutritionists and is based on the principles of the paleo diet. Aside from that, the food is delicious and it’s a very affordable way to eat away from home
Not quite a restaurant and not quite a cafe, you place an order and your food is prepared fresh and is ready within minutes for you to enjoy. Sound good? It’s more than good. It’s changed my world!
This forward-thinking concept is filling a much needed gap in the market – somewhere that can provide healthy and nutritious food in a flash in high traffic areas where the priority is to find something quick and easy. At the moment, THR1VE has opened its doors in the city centres of Sydney and Canberra, however we will be seeing much more of it right across the country soon.
For those who are interested in taking their health one step further, THR1VE has introduced fitness and nutrition programs and its own range of snacks and supplements to support people on their journey to better health and fitness.
More on the food and products later. For now, allow me to introduce the creator of THR1VE, Josh Sparks. Josh is a hugely inspirational guy with incredible talents. With a background in high end fashion and experience in leadership positions for brands including Sass & Bide and Thom Browne New York, Josh has forged a completely new path, drawing on his skills to successfully build a thriving (pun not quite intended but what the hell!) business.
1. What was your main motivation for starting THR1VE?
To create a Paleo inspired mass market brand that will genuinely enhance our customers lives; to surround myself with an amazingly smart, inspired and like-minded team; to honour my heroes like Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson; and to merge my personal lifelong passion for health and wellness with my professional experience in branding, marketing, and retail.
And, let’s be honest….I also just desperately wanted somewhere cool to eat everyday!
After years of Paleo / Primal, I hate the everyday food choices most Australians are forced to accept. We all deserve much better. We sincerely hope to offer that better alternative.
2. Tell us about the inspiration behind the menu…
We are inspired by the Paleo and Primal templates – the heart and soul of the brand is a focus on breakfast and lunch staples that are high protein, low carb, always gluten-free, and without added sugar. However, and this is critical to our ongoing menu development, it also needs to be absolutely delicious, priced competitively with the fast casual majors, and served within minutes.
I love the premium priced Paleo and Primal cafes and restaurants, here and internationally, but our ambition is to reach the mass market. Both those that self identify as Paleo or Primal, but also the vast majority of people who don’t.
To make the difference we hope to make, both to individual lives and to the societal burden of lifestyle disease, it is critical that we both celebrate the early adopters that make it possible, and also enrol the mainstream.
3. What are your plans for THR1VE in the future?
In addition to the Sydney and Canberra stores, we are committed to sites in Melbourne and Brisbane for the first half of 2014. We are searching for a second Sydney store now, and we have a mandate with our property agents for great sites in all national capitals and major regionals over the next 3-5 years.
We have been fortunate enough to receive a bunch of franchise approaches, but I am adamant that we maintain control of the brand and product offer for the time being. Australians love franchising, due to a chronic lack of capital and talent, but at this stage I am happy with a slower approach until we perfect the model.
We would love to develop other business lines under the THR1VE brand, to bring the Paleo and Primal lifestyle to even more people….stay tuned!
4. Do you think the paleo lifestyle will become mainstream?
I would love to think so!
Both individually and for society at large, especially one like Australia with nationalised health instance, the benefits are ridiculously obvious. On the other hand, the challenges are unfortunately quite obvious as well.
Regardless of whether we can achieve genuine mainstream adoption, we are committed to our part in achieving mass market awareness. I am a passionate free market libertarian, I believe first and foremost in individual and informed free choice, so my hope is that each and every one of us make considered decisions based on the facts.
5. Do you find it difficult to dine out on a paleo / primal diet?
Not at all!
It is very rare in Australia to not have premium protein and seafood options, and fresh and seasonal vegetables, in any cafe or restaurant. Even if it isn’t on the menu, most chef’s are delighted to assist.
The devil is in the detail of course, so to be safe I stress I am gluten-free, I ask about cooking oils and fats, and whether sugar is used in the preparation of dishes or sauces.
Having said that, if my Grandma cooks me pasta and meatballs I will eat it up in a flash! There are some hosts you just don’t refuse or offend. ;)
6. What are your favourite places to dine or favourite cuisines / dishes to eat out?
If not THR1VE or at home, it tends to be a random restaurant or cafe that appears the most aligned to my values, wherever I happen to find myself.
I’m not much of a celebrity chef or trendy restaurant kind of guy.
7. You’ve done a lot of travel – do you have any tips on maintaining a healthy diet when traveling?
I find that once you have reached your destination, you can settle in, and find accommodating chef’s. And that applies to pretty much everywhere I have travelled, except perhaps parts of Asia, especially the Philippines where they love rice and sugar with everything. You can make it work, it just takes a little more creativity.
It is the transit that is hardest.
Airport food is criminally bad, which only highly highlights how truly atrocious airline food is. Unless you are lucky enough to travel at the front of the plane that is, which I am not!
I have tried insisting on gluten-free, only to end up with soy products. What’s a guy to do? I suggest packing snacks like a quality grass fed beef jerky, nuts, protein balls or bars, even a little fruit. And then picking around the meals to the extent you can.
Generally if you are fat adapted, and don’t suffer the carb / sugar roller coaster of needing to eat constantly, you can happily consider the worst of the transit as an intermittent fast.
8. What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
This is ridiculously quick, inexpensive and delicious, but by no means flashy enough for the Paleo gourmet!
One dish steak and veggies
Five to ten minute prep, ten to twelve minutes cooking, two minutes cleaning.
Grass fed steak sliced, a piling heap of whatever fresh veggies are at hand, fresh garlic, chilli flakes or fresh chilli, macadamia or coconut oil. Add your favourite functional and yummy herbs and spices. Mix it all up in a baking pan by hand to ensure oil is evenly distributed. Pop in the oven at 180-200 for 10-12 minutes, i.e. until the steak is medium rare.
Serve up, drizzle with a little balsamic or whatever matches your choice of herb mix, and enjoy with a glass of Pinot Noir.
I eat this at least twice a week, varying the veggies, herbs, spices and finishing drizzle based on whats fresh and to hand.
Where is THR1VE?
Shop 28, MLC Centre
19-29 Martin Place, Sydney
Monday – Friday
7:30am – 3pm
Canberra Centre (opposite Supabarn)
Bunda St, Canberra
Monday – Thursday
7:30am – 6:30pm
Friday 7:30am – 9pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm
THR1VE website: http://www.thr1ve.me/