When Nancy Weagant gave up her three-decade dental career five years ago, she decided to head into the kitchen. "I grew up in San Francisco, and I watched my mom cook forever," she says. "And I studied abroad in France and Italy. I just knew this is what I wanted to do." And so she enrolled at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, where she studied "fast and hard" in anticipation of working the burners after graduation.
When she finished, though, she didn't move directly into the restaurant industry. "I didn't want to go into a big kitchen," she explains. "So I was a personal, private chef for five years." But last year, when she was visiting her sister in Alaska, Weagant's career took a turn when she realized she was gluten-intolerant. "My sister put me on a gluten-free diet," she recalls, "and I realized I wanted to help other people with this problem, too."
She partnered with Jessica Cloutier, a Johnson and Wales graduate, and hatched a plan for Thyme To Eat Now, a food cart dedicated to serving "fresh, ever-changing, gluten-free, clean food." And on June 1, they'll unveil the fruits of their labor in the same courtyard at 16th and Arapahoe streets that's home to the original Biker Jim's cart.
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"The menu will be a different thing every day," Weagant explains. "I don't like to eat the same thing every day, and I imagine others don't, either. One day will be Moroccan or African-type food, another day will be Asian food with different teriyaki sauces. We'll have chimichurri and fresh fruit chutneys, roasted vegetables, roasted protein, fresh produce, fresh seasonal fruit and sweet potatoes stuffed with everything you can think of." She plans to buy her ingredients twice a week at the local farmers' markets, she adds, striving for seasonality and giving precedence to foods that are Colorado-grown.
hyme To Eat Now will also offer some gluten-free baked goods, icluding a cast-iron pan, gluten-free cornbread, which Weagant plans to serve with a variety of chilis. "It was difficult to learn to use the flours, especially at altitude," she notes.
Thyme To Eat Now will focus on the lunch crowd, though Weagant is pondering extending the hours until 6 p.m. to provide an option for people looking for a healthy dinner. "I watch people go home with bad bags in their hands," she says. "We're all worried about our weight, and a lot of us have a problem with that. I would like to help people with that problem."