Chef Ann Gentry

by Amy Harrington | September 20th, 2012 | Chef Interviews

Looking for a restaurant that is clean, tasty and makes you feel good after you eat it? Real Food Daily has three locations in California, which are the leaders in the green food movement. You do not have to be vegan or even a vegetarian to enjoy the delicious food. Although they started with a narrow niche twenty years ago, things have grown since then. Between Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Pasadena, and LAX airport (coming in 2013), they are expanding to reach a broad clientele of healthy eaters.

Ann Gentry, the creator, founder and operating owner spoke to me to express her passion for vegan cuisine in efforts to learn more about the opportunities at Real Food Daily. She is also author of Vegan Family Meals, real food for everyone and The Real Food Daily Cookbook.  You can follow her on Twitter @AnnGentry or Like at Facebook at AnnGentry.RFD

AH: What made you decide to become the creator, founder, and operating owner of Real Food Daily?

CG: I was living in LA, and there were no places to eat the kind of food that we cook at Real Food Daily. There were other people like me who wanted a choice and opportunity to eat vegan cuisine.

AH: What kind of vegan foods are you growing exclusively with organic farming methods?

CG: We are very blessed being in California, which feeds most of the country. Los Angeles is a big hub of so much food, coming through and going to the rest of the country. Availability is very high here and if you want it, it’s here. There are food markets in downtown in LA that get organic food to myself and others like myself.  

AH: What local produce items are you currently using in your dishes?

CG: We try to focus on foods grown both seasonally and regionally. Seasonal foods will keep you in the region. In California, we have four distinctive seasons, not as extreme as the East Coast, but still different temperatureS. Right now we are going into our fall season, including fall vegetables, winter squashes, butternut squashes, etc. They are very sweet when cut open which is on their way to full ripeness. Also, apples, pears, and lettuces are changing moving towards a winter mix. What we do is have specials that are focused on seasonal produce.

AH: The menu varies from TV dinner to Supreme Burrito. What are some of the perks of having such a variety?

CG: We will be open twenty years next summer, and the variety keeps people interested. Half of our clientele are regulars; some people get the same thing over and over again, while it also keeps the regulars who like change interested. The menu is used to keep showing people how creative vegan and vegetarian cuisine can be.

AH: The restaurants’ interior has a common theme of organic and natural materials. Is this design influenced by the food of Real Food Daily?

CG: Well, sure, we are definitely serving very real food, fresh, organic, and clean. We want our environment to express that. Color is a big thing, and the color reflects the color of food: reds, oranges, greens color.  The natural tabletops and environment are reflected of the menu. We want to make people feel good when they are in our restaurants.

AH: What makes your restaurant unique?

CG: Real Food Daily has many things to make it unique. It’s a restaurant that obviously on a food level offers a 100% vegan menu with the commitment of sourcing organic products.  Customers go for the food but they also get a sense of community, education and spirit of celebration in the culture. The waitstaff shares a great connection with the guest. The customers are able to pick up on the energy and vibe. Real Food Daily focuses on the uniqueness that is more than just the food.

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