When a restaurant or brand describes their food as great-tasting that is also convenient, affordable and good for you, they have my attention. Well, they had it a great-tasting! I was invited to this event in June and want to report about this exciting venture that is about to start in our own backyard. I have borrowed some bits and pieces from their press releases. I spoke with everyone but didn’t get a chance to write everything down; there was quite of bit of information!
LYFE Kitchen stands for Love Your Food Everyday. The first restaurant will be opening in Palo Alto, California in late summer 2011 with more restaurants and ready-made meals available in grocery stores. The menu was designed by award-winning chefs Art Smith and Tal Ronnen and has roots in both healthy comfort as well as vegan. Some of the dishes will include Smith’s popular “unfried chicken” and Ronnen’s “ancient grains bowl”.
According to Mike Roberts, CEO, “With two celebrated, taste-making chefs and a talented team of leaders and advisers, we believe LYFE Kitchen is a response to one of America’s most significant unmet needs: the consumer’s demand for delicious, affordable food that is good for you.”
The restaurant concept has a whole team of advisors. Besides Ronnen and Smith, the LYFE ambassadors include Janet Evans with the National Mom Advisory Panel. The decorated 5-time Olympic medalist, world record holder, accomplished distance swimmer and mother of two will share advice and inspiration with other moms, including her own exercise tips and personal triumphs and struggles when making food decisions with her family.
On the LYFE Health and Wellness Panel, are Dr. Anthony Cardillo and Dr. Armand Dorian. These practicing ER doctors believe in the importance of balancing all aspects of one’s ‘LYFEstyle.’ From the foods that we eat to the things that make us happy, Cardillo and Dorian understand the many factors that affect our overall well-being and health. According to Dorian, “If you eat the proper food, you will not get sick. If you eat the proper food, you will get the right nutrition. But the best part about all of this is, it tastes great!” Cardillo said he was “humbled to know that there is a group out there of committed, caring, entrepreneurial executives who are willing to join our mission which is to help people live healthier lives.”
Also part of the team is Karen Knoblaugh, MS, RD. She is a a registered dietitian who specializes in food allergies and will be advising the group on special diets like gluten-free and dairy-free. Knoblaugh herself has a wheat allergy so she plans to make sure the employees understand the dangers of cross-contamination as it relates to special diets.
Right beside Mike Roberts, at the helm of the operations, is founder Stephen Sidwell and Mike Donahue, Chief Communications Officer. CEO Roberts is the former President and Chief Operations Officer for McDonald’s Corporation, Donahue, on the right, is the former Chief Communications and External Relations Officer for McDonald’s USA, and Sidwell, who has been an entrepreneur for the past 18 years, is CEO of Devante Capital.
During the ‘Fork Lifting’ event, Sidwell added, “LYFE is more than a restaurant. It is a ‘LYFEstyle.’ We have a saying that permeates every aspect of our brand: Eat Good. Feel Good. Do Good. Our team and the nature of the concept helps you to eat well while the menu and design of the restaurant helps you to feel good.”
LYFE will showcase great-tasting food that is natural, preservative and additive-free, enhanced with spices, herbs and other natural ingredients. No dish contains more than 600 calories and most offer less. LYFE Kitchen is also aware of social responsibility, like the welfare of animals.
LYFE has partnered up with the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit organization that has brought together expert leadership from so many sectors concerned about animals in agriculture–retailers, farmers, scientists, ranchers, and four of the world’s largest animal advocacy groups. To date, Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards program includes chickens, pigs, and beef cattle. According to LYFE Kitchen, they are the first restaurant chain that has committed to being 100% 5-Step rated for those products.
A little more about the chefs from a February press release:
Chef Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and a two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner, is a restaurateur and cookbook author known for his delicious, classic comfort food. He is also the founder of Common Threads, which strives to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking. Recently, he has received attention for his own 100-pound weight loss, which he achieved through a balanced diet and exercise. Chef Smith has appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and owns Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C. (by the way, he looks great!).
Chef Tal Ronnen is reputed as one of the most ground-breaking vegan and vegetarian chefs today. In addition to preparing meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day vegetarian and vegan diet exploration (and also being named as the “Best Vegan Chef” on her “Best Of” show), he has cooked for Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Arianna Huffington, and prepared the first vegan dinner at the US Senate. His cookbook, The Conscious Cook, was a New York Times bestseller.
LYFE Kitchen will open summer 2011 at 167 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA. As with most restaurant openings, remember to cut them some slack during the first couple of weeks. Personally, I plan to go in September. I hope you will give it a try. Here’s to LYFE!
Read my examiner article here about the Forklifting event.