Exclusive first look: True Food Kitchen opens today in Cherry Creek
There's been a lot written about Dr. Andrew Weil, a bestselling cookbook author, the founder and director of the Arizona Center for integrative medicine, and a partner in True Food Kitchen, which opens today in Cherry Creek. And most of what's been penned about the doctor, who holds a medical degree from Harvard, advocates his healthy foods philosophy, which revolves around an anti-inflammatory diet.
But while there are plenty of self-described "experts" who extol healthy diets, not all of them practice what they preach. Weil, however, has a confession that leads credence to his mission: "I have the rare distinction," he declares, "of never once eating a McDonald's hamburger or French fries."
Weil, for the record, is seventy years old.
"I'm very conscious of what I eat," admits the doctor, whose diet precludes meat, but does include fish. And he cooks, too -- and well, apparently, since his dinner guests strongly encouraged him to open a restaurant. "I love to cook and I love food, and over the years, I was told I should open a restaurant, but I didn't know anything about the business," he says.
But Sam Fox, the founder and CEO of Fox Restaurant Concepts, the company that owns NoRTH in Cherry Creek, and a three-time James Beard nominee for Restaurateur of the Year, does, and when Fox and Weil met several years ago through a mutual business partner, Weil attempted to sell him on a concept that would promote healthy eating. Fox wasn't interested. "Sam was really skeptical," remembers Weil. "He absolutely didn't think it would sell."
The tide turned when Weil invited Fox and his wife over for dinner, turning out everything from a curried cauliflower soup to a frozen dessert made with cashew mill. "He definitely liked the food, and I could see his wheels starting to turn," Weil recalls.
Fox eventually acquiesced, and the first True Food Kitchen, a restaurant that serves seasonal foods that follow Weil's anti-inflammatory diet, opened in Phoenix in 2008. Still, Fox wasn't convinced. "From the moment it opened, it did really well," says Weil, "but it wasn't until the sixth month, when people were coming up to Sam on the street and hugging him for opening the restaurant, that he became convinced." A year later, recounts Weil, Fox woke up with chest pains and subsequently had a stent placed in his coronary arteries. "When that happened, Sam started eating at True Food Kitchen more than any of his other restaurants."