Photographs by Bob Rozycki
Kylie Cappelli’s Lilli Pilli Health Bar in White Plains takes its name and spirit from the Australian Outback, where she was raised.
There, she says, “you had to be self-sufficient, or you’d die.”
She wants to bring that same independence of mind to nutrition.
“You don’t have to go bungee-jumping,” says the former model and actress, who’s been skydiving. “But what I want is to remind people to go outside the box and live life to the fullest. Go out and suck it up and live it, ’cause life is short.”
Hence the health bar’s motto – “Chug it. Live it. Love it.”
What people are chugging, living and loving is a way of eating that centers on whole, organic, clean food – cold-pressed juices and juice cleanses, organic frozen yogurt and such signature dishes as organic turkey chili, sweet potatoes stuffed with turkey and vegetables and Chinese chicken salad. Kylie knows what you’re thinking. But this isn’t trendy food for the perpetually noble dieter who’s willing to sacrifice in the name of health and beauty.
“I wanted to make stuff that tasted great,” says Kylie, a striking blonde dressed this day in a caramel and white palette that accents her coloring. “I wanted something everybody would enjoy. I don’t want to be a vegan. I want to drink a glass of wine or have a beer. I want delicious food.”
She knows that people enjoy fruits and vegetables. But she also knows that they can be time-consuming to prepare. That’s why she set out – with the help of her mother’s recipes and Anthony Goncalves, chef-owner of neighboring 42 The Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester – to create drinks and eats that combine fruits and vegetables in sweet and savory ways. Like the Absolutely Everything juice, with which Kylie starts her day (along with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal). The Absolutely Everything contains Swiss chard, celery, cucumber, kale, parsley, apple, lemon and ginger cayenne. (Think cucumber soup with a ginger cayenne kick.) Taking it down a notch but still refreshing is the Multi-Vitamin juice, made with Swiss chard, celery, cucumber, kale, parsley and apple. For a sweet treat, try Nourish (beet, carrot and pineapple.) Looking for a sports drink or an afternoon pick-me-up? Consider Replenish (young Thai coconut water, cucumber and pineapple with a hint of Himalayan salt). We also sampled and liked the tangy Green Lemonade (lemon, apple, Swiss chard, coconut nectar and ultra-filtered water.)
Over our juice-tasting it becomes clear that the seeds for Kylie’s 1-year-old health bar – named for an Australian berry – were planted in her mother’s vegetable garden in Kalgoorlie, a mining town 370 miles east of Perth on Australia’s west coast. There were no supermarkets for quick fixes. Out there, the family lived off the land and lugged water tanks and antennae for her father’s geological expeditions.
Kylie left home at 16 and ultimately became a model and actress. She met her future husband, Louis Cappelli, who developed The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester – where the couple lives – and neighboring City Center, among other properties. (They also have a house in the Hamptons.)
The dapper Mr. Cappelli stops by the cheery, mod Lilli Pilli – just under 1,500 square feet of lime green paint, exposed beams and pipes, chandeliers and reclaimed wood from Hudson, N.Y., plus an additional 4,000 square feet downstairs for the cold presses. Louis, however, is not there to be interviewed, just to pick up some juices and give his wife a quick kiss before heading off to work.
If the Outback looms large in the creation of Lilli Pilli, so does that frightening moment in 2009 when Louis suffered a brain aneurysm.
“His brain exploded, in my opinion, from stress,” Kylie says of a time when the recession brought the country to its knees. “That fear has become the new norm. What we thought was important then is not important now.”
Searching for a way to exert control over what she could, Kylie began to look at what and how she was eating. She and a friend experimented with making juices using a cookbook, but their initial efforts tasted terrible. It was only after trial and error and working with Goncalves, whom she describes as “like my brother,” that the pressed juices took hold.
And with them, a mission.
“I don’t know where all this will end up,” she says. “But what’s exciting is knowing I can change people’s lives.”
Lilli Pilli Health Bar is at 240 Main St. in White Plains. For a look at the menu, go to lillipilliberribar.com.