Laura Incognito and Little Tucker
When Laura Incognito first moved from Australia to Canada on a whim, she found the health food industry lacking what was so abundant in Australia.
In her native home of Australia, easy, ready-made, grab and go, vegan and raw food options were everywhere, but in Calgary, they were next to impossible to find, and over the next three years, she set out to correct that problem.
Incognito first came to Canada as part of three months of traveling through North America. What started as a vacation, turned into working at a ski resort in BC for a season. During her time in BC, she met her current boyfriend, who lived in Calgary, and thus started a year long, long distance relationship.
“It’s really not an exciting story, but after a year of doing long distance I decided to move to Calgary and be closer to him, and that’s kind of when I was at a stage in my life where I had no idea what I wanted to do because I was now in a city where I didn’t know anyone,” Incognito recounts.
Starting from scratch allowed Incognito to reinvent her life. After studying for work in the media, and realizing it wasn’t for her, she looked for something she was passionate about to refocus her life on, and that turned out to be food.
“I kind of decided that I wanted to start something on my own, and I think food was the only, thing that’s ever kind of made sense to me,” she explains.
With that in mind, Incognito created her business, Little Tucker, a food service that focuses on raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, options for people with dietary restrictions or alternative diets.
“I kind of just identified when I moved to Calgary that there wasn’t a lot of options out there for things that I enjoy eating. […] I come from Australia where food options for raw vegan, gluten free, healthy it’s just everywhere and I found that when I came to Calgary that it was there, it was just really hard to find and it wasn’t a convenient option for people.”
Starting off in Calgary’s farmer’s markets, Incognito began with what is now Little Tucker’s signature, energy bites. They were unexpectedly popular, and it encouraged her to explore further into the other raw snacks and desserts that she’s become known for.
Incognito’s enthusiasm for alternative food options, comes from her home in Australia. Growing up, she always had a healthy relationship with food, and the market in Australia for raw and vegan foods, vastly outstrips that found in Calgary.
“A vegan raw restaurant is on every corner, it’s actually really hard like not to eat that way.”
As alternative diets go, veganism, and the rules of a vegan diet are fairly well known, as more and more people switch over. According to the Telegraph, in Britain alone there has been a 360% increase of vegans over the last 10 years. A raw diet however, while on the up and up, still remains mostly unknown to people.
“It [raw] basically means that you don’t add any heat or anything to your food and you’re eating it in it’s 100% natural state. It doesn’t kill all the live enzymes and nutrition in your food, so you’re eating everything in it’s natural state, and your body can absorb all the goodness.”
Incognito concedes that a raw diet in a climate like Calgary can be impractical to maintain. With colder weather, and fresh foods and vegetables not locally grown throughout winter months, it can be harder to follow, and unlike Calgary, Australian heat can make cooking an unappealing option and a raw diet more agreeable.
Besides the cultural aspect, Incognito maintains that after switching to a more plant based diet, her energy levels sky-rocketed and she found herself with more energy than she had ever had before, although she had always eaten healthy.
Australia’s food culture, is something that Incognito wants to bring to the Calgarian market. The majority of her inspiration for her future food projects comes the social media accounts of companies back home, and as evidenced by her success have been well received by Calgarians.
Although the Canadian and Australian food markets have their differences, Calgarians are beginning to embrace the ideas that Incognito is bringing over from her homeland.
She explains that her ideas and food are being embraced because “Calgarians and Australians are so similar in that they’re very active, health-conscious people, they’re always on the go.”
While Calgarians may still be hesitant to make their foray into vegan, and raw foods, their slowly changing perception is evidenced by the growing number of vegan, and raw food restaurants and companies popping up around the city. Businesses like, Wild & Raw in Kensington, and The Coup on 17th Ave, have found unexpected success, just like Incognito’s Little Tucker.
Incognito hopes to expand her business within the next year, venturing further into meals, and grab and go savoury options, after her recent success with prepackaged lunches that have been stocked around the downtown area.
“It’s exciting to see people’s perceptions changing, and kind of knowing that you have a small difference in that, and educating people,” Incognito says.