Dr. Andrew Weil is certainly an icon of health. He is known as the founder of integrative medicine, which seeks to combine alternative and conventional medical practices. As an author on healthy lifestyles, he has sold 10 million books and has been featured twice on the cover of Time magazine. He has also been a frequent guest on Larry King Live, Oprah and theToday show.
Recently, Dr. Weil made an interesting business decision. To demonstrate to the public at large that healthy eating did not mean boring eating, he opened True Food Kitchen—a restaurant offering fine, tasty cuisine based on his anti-inflammatory diet. The diet is predicated on Dr. Weil’s conclusion that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses.
“Having spent a lifetime trying to persuade people through books, articles and speeches that healthy food can also be delicious, it’s wonderful to finally have a way to reach the public via the most persuasive medium of all: the food itself,” Weil told Organic Connections.
Healthy doesn’t mean tasteless
“Too often the words healthy food conjure up images of strange-looking, tasteless meals served in a bare-bones setting where customers might rightly anticipate a less than satisfying experience,” Weil continued. “At True Food Kitchen we start with great-tasting food that happens to be good for you, and work from there. At each location the chefs create satisfying fare influenced by Mediterranean, Asian and Californian cuisine in an engaging, environmentally friendly setting.”
True Food Kitchen has been an unqualified success. Beginning with its original Phoenix location, there are now five restaurants in Arizona and California, with many more in the planning. “From the outset my partners and I have worked hard to ensure that True Food Kitchen would be a new kind of restaurant: one in which delicious flavors, healthy nutrients, environmental awareness and an inviting atmosphere come together to create an unforgettable dining experience,” said Weil. “I think that people are attracted by the authenticity behind our message of nourishing food, environmental sustainability and good health. Of course, the delicious food speaks for itself.”
Adherence to Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet is key to the creation of all of True Food Kitchen’s fare—much of which was created by Weil himself. “The anti-inflammatory diet that I promote is the nutritional component of a healthy lifestyle and can be used to prevent and treat the type of chronic age-related disorders that afflict so many, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Weil explained. “Combined with regular exercise, adequate sleep, appropriate stress management and avoidance of toxic exposures (including tobacco smoke), these healthy lifestyle habits give us more control than our genes over our health destiny. But of all these activities, following a healthy diet represents the most profound lifelong environmental influence on our health.”
Local and organic
Dr. Weil isn’t just providing healthy food, however. He also integrates sustainability into food sourcing for the restaurants. “True Food was designed not only to please customers with gourmet fare served in a warm and engaging setting, but to do so in a vibrantly healthy way that is based on environmentally sustainable principles,” Weil said. “We source locally and organically wherever possible, thereby expending fewer natural resources, supporting regional farmers, and encouraging sustainable farming practices. I believe strongly in taking responsibility for my own health, and also in taking responsible action that supports and sustains the health of the planet.”
A personal mission
Being a pioneer and prominent spokesman for healthy living, Dr. Weil additionally sees the restaurant as an extension of his own personal love of great food. “I travel widely and have been influenced by many wonderful culinary experiences,” he said, “especially elements of Mediterranean and Asian-style cuisine, the two healthiest food cultures in the world. I enjoy cooking for friends and family, and I like to experiment with various flavors and textures that are both delicious and healthy. In fact, the people for whom I have cooked have long urged me to open a restaurant.”
But Dr. Weil didn’t stop at the restaurants. In October 2012 he published a cookbook, True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure, which is based on the restaurants’ recipes. Between True Food Kitchen and the book, Weil hopes to bring society up yet another notch in terms of a healthy lifestyle. “My hope is that the restaurants and cookbook will convince people that delicious food and food that’s good for you are not in opposition,” he concluded. “I believe our success will influence other restaurants to move in this direction; and I want to see more people learn to make simple, easy dishes at home that conform to the principles of cutting-edge nutritional science.”
For more information on True Food Kitchen, check out www.foxrc.com/restaurants/true-food-kitchen.