For all of those entrepreneurial spirits out there, this one is for you. We spoke to Johanna de Groot, the owner and mastermind behind Flourish Bistro, a plant-based eatery located in Woodstock (Cape Town) that’s committed to being deliciously conscious. Johanna is a passionate ambassador for all things that are good for the planet and is dedicated to pushing meat-free food forward in the Mother City. We talked to this inspirational beauty about how she got started, what her daily routine looks like, how she practices self-care while balancing her busy schedule and the importance of switching off.
Tell a little about yourself?
I’m Johanna de Groot, the 26-year-old owner of Flourish Bistro (@flourishbistro) in Woodstock, Cape Town. I started Flourish with passion and enthusiasm for all things healthy and sustainable. At some point in my life, I experienced health challenges that I overcame by implementing a healthy eating and healing regime. From then on, I became passionate about changing people’s mindsets to help them celebrate amazing natural foods, while also becoming more environmentally friendly. This is how the idea of Flourish Bistro came to be and providing delicious, wholesome, plant-based foods for my customers has become my way to help bring awareness on the importance of healthy living.
What has been the biggest hurdle of owning a business and what inspires you to keep moving forward?
Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! The short answer to this is: I was very naive. My family weren’t in the restaurant industry, I wasn’t a chef, I had never worked in a kitchen and I had never owned a business, so this new adventure has been a huge learning curve. Being blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead and having a raging passion gave me the drive, I needed to open my very own bistro.
Who is your biggest inspiration in the industry and why?
Definitely Ella Mills from Deliciously Ella (@deliciouslyella). Her story and cookbooks ignited an understanding for food and wellness in a whole new way. She made me aware of the fact that if you opt for an amazing, natural, plant-based diet, you can eat as much as you like and indulge in sweet treats that are not processed and sugar laden! Like her, I am all about abundance and living life to the full! Her sparkling joy and radiating passion for living a prosperous and energised life also helped me discover my mission in life, to build a meaningful career where love, happiness and joy are centre stage.
Tell us what a day in your life looks like?
Most mornings start with an early wakeup call at 5:30am. I usually take a few minutes to regroup and adjust my goals for the day. Then I oil pull with coconut oil while taking a cold shower (yes, this is a new thing and I love it), get dressed, brush my teeth with my bamboo toothbrush and tie up my hair. At 6:30am, I’ll drive to work while sipping on 1L of lemon water and listening to audiobooks/podcasts (The Plant Proof podcast, Deliciously Ella, Livegan and How Not To Die on audible). From 07:00am-08:30am, I have the kitchen and bistro to myself and do my favourite things; bake healthy and delicious sweet treats like BP and J cookies, chocolate brownies, blueberry muffins and rocky roads. At 08:30am, my best friend and sous chef arrives, Jordan. We always try make time for breakfast and a quick analysis of what we need to do for the day before we open at 09:00am. The rest of my day is spent cooking, cleaning and chatting to our wonderful customers. I make it home between 18:00pm and 19:00pm to have dinner, go to the gym, walk on the beach or head for a swim in the ocean with my husband. Hopefully, I’m asleep by the latest 21:00pm-22:00pm. I often struggle with anxiety when I get to bed and this is when I listen to Harry Potter in German on Audible to calm my thoughts while I fall asleep. I must have listened to all the books about 10 times by now.
How do you find balance between running Flourish Bistro and staying healthy?
The balance question, for me, is totally a function of mindset. There are so many women who struggle to be balanced. I know how lucky I am that I am so passionate about my work, have an extremely supportive husband and family, as well as having an awareness about self-care. Flourish Bistro is all about a healthy way of living, so it is a precept that I also want to live by. Setting very firm boundaries for myself I make sure to eat at least 3 balanced meals, move my body, practice self-care and spent a few minutes a day for myself, whether that’s reading or spending time with my hubby.
What does self-care mean to you? What do you do to keep sane? What products do you enlist to help?
Self-care to me comes in many forms. Eating well (no processed foods, no refined sugar, little added oils and no animal products, basically all beautiful growing things), moving my body at least 3-4 times a week, not using any chemicals on my body, reading before bed, sleeping at least 7 hours a night and keeping my daily routines simple. A lot of my individuality and creativity comes from being minimal in my choices. What I allow into my life has a great effect on me.
What are your ‘go-to’ snacks?
My go to snacks are organic cucumbers- they’re so sweet and good, apples/fruits in general, my own baked sweets like rocky road or cupcakes, cracker bread, carrots and bananas.
Something you can’t live without?
Can you share your favourite recipe with us?
Favourite recipe at the moment is my organic coffee brownie cups because they are fudgy, have an incredible depth of flavour and they’re simple to make.
Do you have any recommendations for the Capetonian home cook with a small kitchen but lots of motivation?
My passion started in a 1m kitchen with an oven that didn’t seal! And that’s still my home kitchen today, but I am lucky to now have my dream kitchen at Flourish. So, a big or small kitchen doesn’t matter, try and learn to make new things without the fuss. Use good utensils and appliances. Try new flavours and combinations with confidence because often you will come up with a winner. Ensure your food is simple and healthy by keeping a meal to 3-5 ingredients means you cannot go too wrong.
What is next for Flourish Bistro?
Next for Flourish Bistro and me is hopefully a cookbook. I have started moving towards creating something that will help everyone Flourish in their own homes!