September 14, 2010


Ruth Tal kicks tradition to the curb, one vegetable at a time.

Owner and creator of Fresh restaurants, and the co-author of three bestselling cookbooks with a fourth on the way, Tal knows a thing or two about staying healthy without sacrificing flavour. I sat down with her to talk vegetarianism, travel, entrepreneurship and life.

"I want people to feel energized, satisfied and fueled up without feeling heavy. I want them to leave knowing they did something good for themselves and the planet," she says.

Fresh restaurants offers gourmet vegetarian dining made from all natural ingredients. Tal switched to veganism when she started dating one. She noticed she wasn't feeling her best, so she cut dairy, meat and wheat from her diet. She suddenly had more energy and her body began to transform. While her and the beau didn't make it last, she remained a vegan and has been one for almost 20 years.

The results are evident. Tal's body is toned, trim and sculpted. She exudes all the signs of good health like bright eyes, clear skin and healthy hair. It's hard not to be envious. Tal's beauty also stems from her diverse background, she comes from Morrocan, Israeli, Spanish and French parents. She explains how her family trips took her all around the world at an early age. Tal sees herself as a, "citizen of the world" and everything about Fresh is inspired by her travels from the colour schemes to the names of items on the menu.

As a young traveller, she believes that all people should see the world and get out of their "comfort zones." At 16 years old, Tal dropped out of high school and at 18 she left home to travel the world for 7 years before returning to Toronto.

"Travelling keeps it fresh,"
she fittingly says, no pun intended.

At 25, she was ready to start her university career but ended up using her student loans to buy juicers. The rest is history as her juicing business slowly turned into opening her own restaurant.

"If you have a passion, you can afford to take the risk," she says.

At the time she thought,"So what if I fail? I have time to make mistakes, I'm young. I'm supposed to be stupid and crazy."

Years later, her gumption paid off as she has three thriving restaurants, published cookbooks and an outlook on life that is contagious, carefree and should be bottled up and sold to uptight cynics everywhere.

Her life motto? "I just want to be happy and be myself. Live my life authentically, honestly. Oh and I want to stay young forever." 

So far so good.

[photo cred: Stefania Sgambelluri]

Check out the three locations of Fresh located at Spadina Ave, Bloor St W. and Queen St. W in Toronto.

*After talking to Ruth I left inspired to go after things that I've been putting off for months, years even. If there is a time to do anything it's now. Everyone who is hesitating going after a dream, don't think just do. We'll rise or fall together. Either way, we tried*


  1. i love fresh! if our schedules work one day we should swap a coffee date for a lunch one!

  2. travelling for 7 years!? my kind of life!

  3. FRESH is my favourite restaurant in Toronto. When I use to live in the Annex I got takeout 3-4 days a week. Now living in Vancouver I have the 'Refresh' cookbook in my kitchen.

    Jealous you met Ruth !

  4. I love FRESH - one of my favorite restaurants - their salads, smoothies and rice bowls are so healthy and delicious. There are so many choices, it is hard to decide, but I love their grilled tempeh and the Antioxidant smoothie. Oh, and the California Classic salad and Green Goddess rice bowl.....wish I lived next door, I would never cook!

  5. I love Fresh, but don't like their attitude about not publishing nutritional information on their menu or website. Strange that the owner is so passionate about eating well, but won't let her patrons decide for themselves how much fat, sodium, carbs, calories, etc. to put in their own diet.