True Food Kitchen launches New Orleans location

Patrick Miller, Contributing Reporter

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, True Food Kitchen opened its first Louisiana location. Before the launch date, the restaurant held soft openings for press and friends of the restaurant’s ownership, one of which Arcade attended on Saturday, Sept. 21. 

The expanding chain is currently spearheaded by Christine Barone, the former CEO of Starbucks up until 2016, and will open its 29th branch under her direction. True Food Kitchen first started in 2008 in Phoenix, founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician who focuses on nutrition and the possibility for food to act as a preventative defensive measure against disease.

Arcade had the chance to speak to both Barone and Weil at the soft opening about the vision behind True Food Kitchen as well as the kind of role they hope to play in the community.

Elana Bush | Photography Editor

The New Orleans location on 801 St. Charles Ave. opens to a large seating area distinguished by its paneled wood, with a bar in the center shielding the art piece made of recycled material from the city that is supposed to represent Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid. 

In conversation with Dr. Weil, he styles his approach to health and nutrition as preventative. By eating foods that counteract inflammation, he claims, the amount of diseases the body is vulnerable to decreases. 

Discussing his beginnings in this field, he describes the process: “It looks like containing that inflammation is your best shot at health. There are many influences on inflammatory status, and diet has a huge impact, and that’s one that you have total control over. And the mainstream diet in North America is full of inflammatory foods.” This belief of Weil’s is reflected in the kind of food that appears on the restaurant’s menu. 

Dr. Weil has faced criticism from medical professionals, who are weary of his tendency to dismiss evidence based medicine in favor of alternative medicine practices. Dr. Barry Beyerstein of Simon Fraser University argues that, “In advocating emotional criteria for truth over criteria based on empirical data and logic, New Age medical gurus such as Andrew Weil … have convinced many that ‘anything goes.’”

Arcade was first given a Wellness Shot, which is a small shot glass filled with a mixture of pomegranate juice, sea buckthorn juice and ginger extract. While incredibly bitter, it purportedly offers a myriad of health benefits. After that, one of True Food Kitchens’ traveling chefs brought out a gluten-free blueberry muffin, which the restaurant cooks fresh but only offers on Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

Both Weil and Barone stressed throughout the interview True Food’s ability to blend healthy food with delicious food. 

“[Y]ou might be eating something delicious, but we know that behind it we’re doing something great for your body,” Barone said. This approach is evident from the get-go. 

After Arcade finished speaking with Weil and Barone, the chefs brought out toast with fresh avocado and fried egg. The toast embodied everything the founder had said it would: it tasted fresh and was filling, but at the same time it still felt like a health-conscious meal. 

Elana Bush | Photography Editor

Barone also expressed her view of True Food Kitchen’s place in New Orleans.

“I don’t think you can come into a city like New Orleans without a really unique point of view on food and on something that’s very different and additive to what’s already here.” 

In this sense, Barone makes it clear that True Food has a respect for the existing paradigms around food in New Orleans, something deeply tied to the identity of the city. With this in mind, though, True Food seems poised to make a successful launch into the New Orleans food scene. 

Sporting mid-range prices and enjoyable, healthful food, True Food Kitchen is gearing up to introduce something new to New Orleans diners. 

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