True Food Kitchen Opens in UTC
As we head into the holiday season healthy diets and exercise tend to take a hiatus until January. But if you want to simultaneously indulge and eat healthfully you can do this at True Food Kitchen. The 21-restaurant chain just opened its newest outpost last weekend in UTC (the other one is in Fashion Valley).
One of the founders of True Food Kitchen is Dr. Andrew Weil. A Harvard-educated medical doctor, Weil said he developed the health-driven concept in partnership with Arizona restaurateur Sam Fox of Fox Restaurant Concepts.
“I’ve had a very active role in its development since the beginning and continue to today,” he explained. “I work on recipe development, ingredient sourcing, and nutritional direction. I continue to oversee the menu, work with the chefs, and help promote the restaurant.”
The foundation of Weil’s approach is integrative medicine, which he described as the way of the future: “The intelligent combination of conventional medicine with natural therapies and other systems of treatment.” He explained that IM focuses on prevention, lifestyle influences on health, and the innate healing power of human beings and absolutely defines my philosophy and the ethos behind everything I do.”
For Weil, his anti-inflammatory diet, reflects his IM principles as a means of disease prevention and helping the body avoid or counteract chronic inflammation which he has said is at the root of heart disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions. The ingredients that make up the anti-inflammatory diet are established in a food pyramid—not unlike the Mediterranean diet—with the base being fruits and vegetables, followed by whole and cracked grains, pasta, and beans and legumes; healthy fats, fish and shellfish; whole-soy foods; cooked Asian mushrooms; other sources of protein (such as dairy, natural cheeses, yogurt, omega-e enriched eggs, skinless poultry, and lean meats); health herbs and spices (emphasizing garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon); tea (white, green, and oolong) red wine, and healthy sweets (think dark chocolate) at the top. And, water, of course.
Lest you think this food pyramid leads to dull dining, in fact, Weil was keen on proving that good dining and good nutrition are a natural pairing. The menu’s dishes—from a fabulous Winter Squash Toast appetizer featuring roasted Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, lemon, saba, and toasted hazelnuts to the Moroccan Chicken main course featuring tender chicken slices resting on a rich chermoula, along with mission figs, heirloom carrots, chickpeas, olives, spinach and Greek yogurt—are decadent and not at all a cliché of health food. The menu is clearly vegetable forward but with plenty of diversity in the ingredients. In fact, there are likely to be ingredients you’ve never heard of, such as sea buckthorn (a leafy shrub known for its antioxidant properties) and sambal (a spicy, chili-based sauce). Even the desserts—yes, desserts—are decadent. I dined there last week with my mother and she barely let me have any of her flourless chocolate cake, that included crunchy cocoa nibs, caramel, and vegan vanilla ice cream. And, as a precursor to Thanksgiving, I had their dense squash pie—and even walked away with the recipe (below).
While Weil is an advocate of eating locally grown and produced food, believing it tastes better and is more nutritious, True Food Kitchen isn’t strictly local. But Weil said that they try to establish relationships with local growers and producers “to get the best fresh ingredients in season for our dishes.”
The newest True Food Kitchen is located in UTC at the corner of Genesee and La Jolla Village Drive on the second level. The address is 4303 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 2100.