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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Making Healthy Food with No Compromise: A Conversation with Rex Bobi, of SAVOR Healthy Organic

May 05, 2015 11:09PM

Q: What led you to understanding the importance of fresh, healthy food and created the passion you have for it?

My wife, Val, and I grew up in farming and gardening families back in Kosovo; almost everyone grows their own fresh fruits and vegetables, tends to their own animals – cows, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and more. So we were exposed from an early age to all-organic food grown using animal manure as fertilizer in home gardens. We simply didn’t know you were supposed to eat any other way.

As we matured, traveled around Europe and then came to America – I came in the mid 1980’s and my wife came in 2004 – we came to the realization that there are “other ways” people eat. We love America. We love a multicultural society with so much art and music; we integrated ourselves with ease. However, we couldn’t adapt to the mass-produced, highly processed way of eating. Luckily, I love cooking, reading and studying about nutrition. I never forgot helping my mom in her garden, watching her cook us fresh garden vegetables, bringing us freshly made yogurt or preparing scrambled eggs for us.. It just tasted so much better, it smelled better, and we felt so good afterwards. The love of cooking healthy never went away from childhood to adulthood. It stayed with me and it grew on me.

Q: What brought you to Norwalk to open SAVOR?

One day as I prepared a delicious healthy meal and we sat at our kitchen table, I asked my wife if both of us could open a little store to offer others what we eat. Her reply was a very long hug and nonstop kisses. I will never forget that moment.

One day, we came from the Hudson Valley to visit a friend in Norwalk and drove down Main Avenue. I saw a “For Rent” sign in one of the store windows. It was right after the crash of the economy in 2008 and everybody was still reeling – including us with very little money in our pocket. But nothing could stop us. We were both on a mission.

Q: Who were some of your early local connections and where are your ingredients sourced now?

Nancy Grant and her husband, Tom, from Weston invited us to see their small organic farm in back of their house, full of fruits and fresh vegetables. It was amazing. We also got to meet one of the sales reps from Albert’s Organics, operating out of Dayville, Connecticut. They are very dependable and now deliver twice a week year-round. We have been happy with their product and the services they provide to us. The United Federation of Independent Growers delivers all our bulk products like organic multigrain flour, organic canned goods, nuts, seeds, dairy, proteins and more.

Q: What kind of reaction did you get from friends and family when you unveiled your menu for SAVOR?

As we got closer to the opening date, some of the people that knew us got to see the menu my wife and I built. They flipped out and called us crazy. “No white flour pizza?” they said. “You’ll never survive on very thin multigrain only as a main crust! Who does that? You’ll never make it.

Offering a no-grain pizza crust made with almond and flaxseed, gluten-free and lots of dairy-free options, organic this, organic that… how many people do you think you’ll find that eat healthy like this?” They said we’d be better off to offer more of the regular type of pizzas people were familiar with and a little bit of what we eat. “You’d have a better chance of surviving,” they said.

I thanked them for their candor and I asked them to listen to my answer. “I will never make nor serve something that I don’t eat; I will always put health before money, and never, never the other way around.”

Five years later, after seeing zero compromises in our menu and seeing our success, the skeptics have come around to see there are plenty of educated and health conscious customers who don’t care for mediocre, substandard food, but certainly care for high quality, fresh organic fruits, veggies, meats and more.

Q: Who is the typical SAVOR customer?

The majority of our patrons are beautiful women who visit us on a weekly basis and to whom I’m forever grateful. They are the ones who are not only helping us stay in business but have even given us a good chance of expanding throughout Fairfield County and wider. They are the ones who have turned their husbands, families and friends on to eating like they do. They’re the ones who remind me of my mother, who truly care for the health of their own and one another. They are the ones who are leading us all on a better, happier and healthier path. They are the ones my wife and I owe our lives to.

Q: What else would you like Natural Awakenings readers to know?

I owe my life to my darling, beautiful wife Val, without whom none of this could have happened, with whom I’ve been married for 10 beautiful years. It still feels like we’ve just gotten married. I work with her about 90 hours per week and we still go home laughing and singing. I eat three to five meals with her each day and savor every bite and will continue to do so for years to come.

Please do the same, each of you. You know you deserve nothing but the best.

SAVOR is located at 430 Main Ave (Rte 7), Norwalk. Open Monday-Saturday 11am-9pm. Orders may be placed over the phone at 203-939-1666 or online at
SAVORHealthyPizza.com. See ad, page 3.

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