Everytime I am back in the states visiting family, I always try to make it out to the Mosaic District in Fairfax. Now don’t get me wrong – one of the best parts of coming home is slipping back into a place still full of small pockets of quiet southern charm. (Northern Virginia might not be the deep south, but we still have rolling hills, stunning national parks, and lots of farmland.) Still, there is no denying that I am a city girl at heart. Which is why I love the Mosaic District so much. When I can’t be arsed to take the Metro into Georgetown, I opt for a relatively short car ride to Mosaic.
Mosaic is a mixture of entertainment (the Angelika Film Center resides here and weekend events like Sunday Yoga in the Park and the Mosaic Farmer’s Market are a reguular thing), food, retail, and residential apartments. It is also home to one of my favorite restaurants on earth, True Food Kitchen.
True Food Kitchen is a restaurant which places healthy eating at the top of their concerns while refusing to sacrifice flavor. True Food Kitchen follows Doctor Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid, while still creating food that excites. And with vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free options, everyone is bound to find something here. They are also very attentive to those with various food allergies (trust me, I have a ton of them, and they always make sure to bare them in mind).
While in my hometown this past winter, I got a chance to sit down with the Manager of True Food Kitchen in Mosaic to learn more about the restaurant and everything behind it:
LFB: Could you please tell me a little bit about how True Food Kitchen got started and what the concept is behind it?
True Food Kitchen: The idea was thought up by Doctor Andrew Weil, who is a natural health doctor out of Tucson who focuses on an anti-inflammatory diet, as his belief is that all disease starts from inflammation. With that, he has done a lot of research over the last 30-40 years about different areas where people tend to live a little bit longer. There are about four to five blue zones where people live to be over 100. So he has done a lot of research about what those people eat, and we have taken those ingredients and incorporated them into our meals.
LFB: True Food Kitchen is clearly all about how we can keep our bodies healthy but clearly there is also a direct connection to the environment as well. Could you tell us a little bit about the company’s ethos when it comes to environmental protection or using organic ingredients?
True Food Kitchen: Definitely. We try to source things organic for everything. We buy off of the dirty dozen and the clean 15 from the Environmental Working Group, we use re-claimed wood floors, our chairs are made from recycled water bottles, and we definitely try to do our part to be as sustainable as possible. It’s not always easy in a restaurant, just because of the amount of food that comes through here, but being in Northern Virginia we are able to get a lot our stuff organic and from local farms.
LFB: Is local produce very important to True Food Kitchen as a company? Do all of True Food Kitchen’s locations try to source locally?
True Food Kitchen: As best we can. It is hard to get everything that we need organic, but we will go to California or Mexico if we cannot get it organic here in Virginia. We will never take a pass on something if we can’t get it organic or if it isn’t part of the clean 15. We just won’t put it on the menu, or we will let the guests know we do not have it at the moment.
LFB: Along those lines, do you guys tend to stick to seasonal things as well? Does the menu rotate quite often?
True Food Kitchen: Yes, we do seasonal menus which change four times a year, going off of what is in season. We also incorporate ingredients that are not only in season but also popular for that time of year – for example squash and Brussels sprouts in the winter. We have done a beef short rib for the menu in the winter as well. Which is a hearty dish.
LFB: In terms of proteins, could you talk a little bit about how the body processes animal products? Because True Food Kitchen also definitely caters to vegetarians and vegans, so I am curious to hear about the company’s opinion on animal product consumption. Are vegan and vegetarian elements a very important part of an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle?
True Food Kitchen: It’s not 100% vegan or vegetarian. We do believe that meat is part of an anti-inflammatory diet, so our restaurant is not 100% vegan or vegetarian, but we want to keep balance. That is key to us. So we list everything on the menu that is vegan or vegetarian but we also keep our meats as lean as possible. The bison that we source is grass fed and we just switched to a beef short rib that is grass fed all the way through, which is fantastic.
LFB: True Food Kitchen is definitely the kind of place though, where a lot of people can come with various dietary preferences and find something they are bound to enjoy.
True Food Kitchen: Yep, we cater a lot to allergies and take that stuff very seriously. Obviously with celiac disease being in the forefront these days, we really try to cater to these allergies. We have to respect everyone’s different dietary needs.
LFB: Could you also tell me a little bit about the kind of people that come to True Food Kitchen? Do they tend to be very health and environmentally conscious?
True Food Kitchen: It’s great because we get to somewhat giveback and guests come here because they are trying to live a lifestyle that is healthy and change the way they are eating. Sometimes people are coming back from a major disease that they had been battling like cancer. It’s nice to be able to offer them several different things they can eat that we believe in. We see some people come in four to fives times a week even.
LFB: Do you think you generally see a trend right now with people in the food industry becoming more conscious about what kind of ingredients are really going into thing, or that the public is pushing for more organic options and restaurants are trying to be more conscious of that?
True Food Kitchen: Sure, as a whole, exercise is becoming very popular. Everyone is running marathons these days, so I think that a lot of people are just paying more attention to what they eat and what they put in their bodies, trying to eat as clean as possible and people are starting to get it. You only get one body. Not every is necessarily living longer, but they can live a more fulfilling life into that 70-80-90-100 years. They are stronger and can hang out with their kids when they are older.
LFB: Oh totally, I mean 40 is not what 40 used to be 20 years ago. It’s great to have food that is going to fuel your body and help you live longer.
True Food Kitchen: And that is what we are trying to do. We are going to open six more restaurants this year – there is a clear demand for it. Obviously it’s not not for everyone though – you do get some guys that come in and they look at the menu and they do not like it, but they don’t know that we have a bison burger that is excellent and that it is leaner than chicken.
LFB:I actually think that True Food Kitchen is great though, because it is not a full-on hippie restaurant. It isn’t the kind of place that scares people away from trying to take on a more healthy lifestyle. People can feel comfortable and sort of explore what is on the menu and be introduced to things that they normally would not be.
True Food Kitchen: I know when I started working here there were several items on the menu that I had never heard of before even though I lived a very healthy lifestyle before I started here!
LFB:Could you tell me a little bit about what True Food Kitchen is doing differently than other restaurants out there at the moment?
True Food Kitchen: Sure. I definitely think farm to table is a very hot word at the moment and everyone is doing that now. We consider that as well, but what we do with the ingredients and the food is something you just don’t see on other menus. I feel like with many restaurants you find very similar items on the menu so there is not a whole lot of variety, but when you come here you can definitely get something different, like a quinoa burger – something you do not necessarily find at every restaurant.
LFB:Lastly, a lot of LFBers are very interested in living healthy lifestyles. What kind of suggestions would you give to people when they are looking for what to put on their table and where to go out to eat if they want to stay healthy?
True Food Kitchen: Eat as clean as possible. Cooking at home is a great way to do it but when you go out to a restaurant really look at the ingredients.
True Food Kitchen
2910 District Ave #170 Mosaic District
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
For more locations, please visit True Food Kitchen online.
LFB always discloses all partnerships. Thank you so much to True Food Kitchen in the Mosaic District having me! It’s partnerships like this that allow LFB to bring incredible adventures and experiences to the LFB community. (I was not paid for this post)
Photography: Rae Tashman
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