Chef Profile: Café Supernatural

By Jane Laird

Ancient healing cuisine is fresh, quick and convenient at the new Café Supernatural.

Utahns already admire entrepreneur chef Ian Brandt as originator of some of the area’s most successful vegetarian businesses, so isn’t surprising that his newly opened Café SuperNatural takes the commitment to healthy eating to a new level. Inside a casual, modern space adjoining Prana Yoga Studio at Trolley Square, guests benefit from fresh, plant-based choices that incorporate the planet’s most healing foods and cooking methods. Cafe SuperNatural is Salt Lake’s second entirely gluten-free restaurant.

Brandt developed an interest in healthy lifestyle restaurants around the country, particularly the innovative “yoga cafes” and was inspired by the blended café concept, but not with the food he found; “That part I wanted to fix,” he laughs. “I wanted to bring my own approach and style to this idea.”

popin brandtFor him, Café SuperNatural represents the next level of healthy eating: whole foods prepared simply that elevate the mind and are easily digestible. Diners should feel more balanced, cleansed and energetic from their experience.

Ian and chef Erin Hey designed the drink and food menu with that in mind: There are restorative beverages such as the Seven Chakra Elixirs ($7) and fresh pressed juices or lemonades ($3-7), in addition to raw almond milk and agave shakes ($7) that feature superfoods such as goji and acai. Coffee and tea ($1.85-$3) are available with soy, hemp milk and almond milk options. Prana Yoga class participants get $2 off shakes, juices and smoothies. Take a “Restore” class and finish with a Perfection 3rd Chakra Elixir (banana, almond milk, fresh mint and agave). Or, how about a Peruvian maca, almond milk, banana and agave shake after a Power Vinyasa workout?hey

As for the soups, salads and main dishes —one side of the menu is “From the Sun” —raw food items—and the other side is “From the Fire”—lightly cooked choices. The Eastern Sun ($9.75, add $2.50 for steamed tofu) is finished with artisan kimchi and nori. The raw SuperNatural Wrap ($7.75) is textured with collard leaf, avocado and artisan sauerkraut. The Machu Picchu ($8.75) is very popular dish: colorful steamed potatoes (or quinoa) served with steamed seasonal vegetables and a chili cashew cream sauce.

Chef Hey graduated from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Las Vegas in 2004 and has been working with Brandt since last fall. She has been instrumental in perfecting the seasonal and evolving menu. To make a batch of the café’s naturally fermented kimchi, Hey chopped 1,500 pounds of cabbage!

Everything offered at the café is chosen for health, sustainability and freshness. “There are no preservatives or artificial flavors. Our menu is gluten-free, dairy-free and only uses unprocessed sugars. All items can be made soy-free or peanut-free.” The juice is fresh pressed every morning and every meal is cooked (if required) to order at the walk-up counter. There are no microwaves, food lamps or warming dishes on the premises. Employee Janelle Popin says a lot of people come in for the juice. A frequent comment from repeat customers is how fresh and clean the food is.

Café SuperNatural’s outdoor patio will soon be open, and there is free parking in the Trolley Square underground garage just off 600 East. It’s an easy walk from TRAX. And, as a hub in the midst of downtown, Sugar House and the University, it’s a comfortable bike ride for many of their potential customers.

Brandt wants everyone to experience affordable healthy cuisine at a good value, so most menu items are under $10. As with his other restaurants (Sage’s and Vertical Diner), the café enjoys cost benefits from using the existing commercial network of sustainably produced bulk foods as well as organically grown local produce when possible. “We create our own supply chain and so avoid the big distribution companies,” he says. “The prices are then affordable and the quality remains great.”

Café SuperNatural. 600 S. 700 E. #P101, Trolley Square adjacent to Prana Yoga. Park free in new Trolley parking structure on 6th East. 801-363-1000. Mon- Sat 10a-9p, Sun 10a-3p. Counter service. Eat in or take out. Free WiFi.

This article was originally published on February 29, 2012.