Regulars and Shorts

Chef’s Profile: Real Foods Market and Café

By Jane Laird

The omnivore’s solution.
by Jane Laird

Redmond Heritage Farm in Redmond, Utah, was founded with the aim to supply the most healthful, nutrient-dense, natural and wholesome meat, dairy, eggs and poultry possible. Employing humane, low-impact and sustainable agricultural practices, Redmond first distributed farm-fresh foods through a community co-op that evolved into its current four Real Foods Markets. These Utah-based stores all offer products, such as their farm’s raw milk from pasture-fed cows, that meet strict standards for food “realness.” In the words of founder and CEO Rhett Roberts: “In theory, if you cannot pick it, gather it, milk it, or hunt it—it is not real food.”sweaterduo

Last summer Real Foods opened its first market and café in Salt Lake County. The Sugar House Real Foods Market features an in-house cafe that uses only ingredients that meet Real Foods’ standards of what constitutes real food in terms of nutrient value, purity, taste, quality, local, organic, minimal processing, fair trade and humanitarianism. Leslie Smoot, who helps organize events, education and PR for Real Foods, says this café is one of the most genuine farm-to-table restaurants in Utah.”Every single product is something to proud of, from the real salt to the fresh butter.”

Ryan Staples is the in-house chef who splits his week between the Sugar House location and the Orem café. He helped design the kitchen and creates the ever-evolving seasonal menu. A thoughtful and quiet man, Staples confides that he is really excited for spring and its produce: “The menu is a living thing,” he says.

Staples’ interest in world cuisines stems from having spent his childhood in foreign countries. His interest in pure food comes from how it makes him feel. “I’ve always been able to tell the effects of food on my body and my health.” While studying culinary arts at Utah Valley University, he applied to join the team at Real Foods Market Café in Orem, knowing these were the people who shared his philosophy.

The café is an unassuming and casual place; the friendly counter staff and chefs help you pick from an array of pure food choices: fresh-pressed organic fruit juices and smoothies; organic vegetables; local, grass-fed meats; fresh-milk cheeses; eggs from the farm, wild-caught fish, traditionally made dishes such as oat pancakes and saag paneer. Breakfast is served all day and there are organic, free-trade coffee drinks. Quality details, such as house-made sprouted hazelnut milk for the coffee, are found throughout the menu and kitchen.

Each meal order is freshly prepared from scratch as you wait, and the café caters to special diet needs, such as gluten-free, vegan, paleo and soy-free. This type of preparation takes extra time, but food-purist fans like it that way. The cafe can accommodate customers in a hurry, though, with fresh soups by the cup or bowl and with a selection of to-go items that include the popular fresh-pressed organic juices plus salads, sandwiches, roasted free-range chicken, desserts such as crème brulee, drinks such as coconut water and kombucha, and more. Staples says that the second most popular item—after the juices—are the naturally sweetened cookies, muffins and other “treats.”

“One goal of our store is that a customer trusts that we’ve eliminated any food containing harmful chemicals, trusts that we’ve done our homework,”

Smoot says says the staff has investigated every product and supplier thoroughly so that products in the store and café are free of artificial ingredients, fillers, additives, hormones, pesticides and GMOs. “For example, there’s not one drop of artificial coloring in the entire store and café.”

Smoot’s career as a food educator has meant sampling many cafés in many cities. And to her, it is a rare restaurant that features wild-caught seafood, farm-fresh eggs, nitrate-free bacon and 100% organic, fresh-pressed juices on the same menu.

Real food is hard to find, and can take more time and expense. However, she stays inspired by the life-changing stories told by customers who have found that food is sometimes the best medicine. “You want your food fully charged, like a battery. When you start with the high energy food, you feel good.”

Real Foods Market Cafe Sugarhouse

Cafe hours (slightly different from the Market): Mon-Sat 9a-7p, Sun 10a-5p. Breakfast all day. Juice/smoothies/coffee. Readymade to-go items and soup station.

Free and inexpensive classes—pick up a flyer at the market

2209 so. Highland Drive, SLC
Tel. 385.351.2664

Real Food Markets are also located in Orem, Heber City, and St. George. They are owned by Redmond Heritage Farms, Redmond, Utah, which supplies many of its products.

This article was originally published on March 30, 2014.