The Juice Merchant and the Healing Power of Food
by Alev Gefen
Photography by Inna Race
Bet you thought fruits and vegetables were boring… Not when you get your healthful and delicious fill at The Juice Merchant!
Alev here, with Private Paparazzi Productions, bringing you the freshly-squeezed news about a hot spot that sprouted in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood.
The PPP crew was elated to catch up with the owner, Lenny Bazemore (whose other brainchild is the fabulous Bazemore Gallery), and head chef, Monica Sellecchia. They indulged us in the secrets behind this corner of goodness.
Private Paparazzi Productions: Hi, Lenny. How did the idea for The Juice Merchant come about?
Lenny: The idea of TJM came about through my worldly travels. I’ve come across several amazing café style restaurants from my visits to France, England, Spain, Germany, Montreal, and Vancouver. This is my vision of what a juice bar and café should be.
PPP: We love the logo! Who is the muse behind the picture?
Lenny: The Muse behind the picture is an older, wiser, version of me. His name is Leo – short for Leonard.
PPP: Where did your “healing power of food” philosophy come from?
Lenny: I grew up hearing these sayings, “you are what you eat,” a long with “an apple a day keeps the Doctor away”. I believe that basic nutrition along with the desire to be in good health go hand in hand.
PPP: Although you center the menu on foods and drinks that are highly nutritious, what is the one guilty pleasure you would not mind to include?
Lenny: Our menu is filled with nothing but healthy food options. There are plenty of places on the street where you can indulge – we just wanted to give our community a wholesome alternative.
It was great to meet Monica Sellecchia, Chef and Manager The Juice Merchant.
We had some questions for her as well.
Private Paparazzi Productions: What do you love about being a part of The Juice Merchant team?
Monica: What I love most about being a part of The Juice Merchant team is being surrounded by such positive and hardworking individuals. To be a part of a team that is creative and passionate and welcoming of other perspectives has truly been a blessing.
PPP: We could not resist taking a peek at the menu on your website! Do you prefer to follow recipes, improvise dishes, or do a bit of both?
Monica: I start by thinking of creative, fun and delicious ingredients that I’d like to marry together for a recipe. Once I’ve tested and tweaked it, I write up a recipe that is simple, easy to follow and allows the product to be consistently delicious and of high quality.
PPP: What is your go-to guilty pleasure food, and would you include it in The Juice Merchant repertoire?
Monica: My go-to guilty pleasure food would have to be chips and dip. I always enjoy crunching on a delicious chip and pairing it with a flavorful dip, like hummus. I incorporated something similar when I paired The Juice Merchant hummus plate with veggie dippers, which are dehydrated vegetable chips.
Here it is, folks! A few morsels of wisdom on how healthful food can be fun and decadent. Getting your daily serving of fruit and vegetables has never been so tantalizing as with The Juice Merchant. Eat, sip, and indulge!