Andrew Weil, head of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, had a long-held conviction that food could be both healthy and tasty enough to be served in a restaurant. But convincing Sam Fox, head of Fox Restaurant Concepts -- which owns NoRTH in Cherry Creek and Bloom in FlatIrons -- that the two should partner on True Food Kitchen, a proposed chain of restaurants based on Weil's anti-inflammatory diet guidelines, took a demonstration.
"Andy invited Sam and his wife out to his ranch for dinner, and he cooked for them," explains Mike Wilcox, vice president of operations for True Food. "He's a great cook with a great palate. It took them by surprise, and Sam said, 'Let's make it happen.'"
In 2008, the partners launched the first True Food Kitchen in Phoenix, which they've since grown into a small chain in Arizona and California. And this summer they'll open the first Colorado outpost in Cherry Creek. "Denver, Colorado is such an active community," explains Wilcox, who used to live here. "There are people on paths running and riding bikes and coming from yoga. That's really our demographic at True Foods."
Like the other locations, this restaurant will feature a menu of salads, sandwiches, pizzas and entrees that draw inspiration from all over the globe while remaining rooted in healthy ingredients. "We feature mostly local produce and a lot of it's organic," explains Wilcox. "It's very seasonal. We use grass-fed beef and bison, and the fish is wild-caught or sustainably farm-raised. It's very environmentally conscious."
That food, he notes, will pair to a full bar (the liquor-license hearing was earlier this month) that, like the rest of the concept, focuses on fresh ingredients that are sustainably sourced. "We feature all fresh-squeezed juices that are made to order, and that trickles over into the cocktail program as well," he says. "Our most popular juice is kale-ade, made with kale, apples, celery and cucumbers. Most of our wines are biodynamic and organic, and we'll have some gluten-free beer, too."
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But what really sets True Food apart, says Wilcox, is the transparency. "It's true food, really," he says. "Our prep tables are in the middle of the dining room, and we don't hide anything. Our servers and cooks live the lifestyle. It puts us on a whole different level."
Wilcox says they're shooting to have Denver's True Food open the Friday after Labor Day, on September 7.