Real Food Eatery was founded on July 20th 2016 with a simple mission: create delicious food from the highest quality ingredients possible, brought from Mother Earth to your plate with minimal adulteration. We are forever grateful for our amazing team and the supportive guests who have made this mission a success since we opened our doors.
I decided to launch RFE in order to change the way that Philadelphia thinks about food.
Over the last decade Philadelphia has been lauded as a food destination, a haven for foodies. I’ve come to resent this term immensely. It’s often interwoven into a chef culture that prides style over substance. Restaurants and “foodies” go to extreme lengths to beautify a dish, often interspersing frou-frou for the sake of photography. Worse yet, low quality ingredients are worked into a dish to achieve maximum flavor, shifting real food to the backseat.
Theater has long been a part of the restaurant experience. Ambience and décor are key reasons why some restaurants thrive and others fail, and when executed properly while coupled with top-notch hospitality, a restaurant can literally transform itself into performance art, elevating one’s dining experience to great lengths. It’s now commonplace for the theatrics to reign supreme. But at its core – at least for me – the experience should really revolve around the quality and integrity of the food that is being served. However, with forces like social media where aesthetic is given top priority; and review sites like Yelp where everyone’s a critic and most are seeking some type of umami flavor explosion – this style over substance movement doesn’t appear ripe for change anytime soon.
RFE seeks to throw a wrench in this trend. Menu integrity is paramount, but not at the sacrifice of hospitality and ambience. Why can’t all three exist in harmony, where the menu guides the aesthetic? Our goal was to create an atmosphere that is a natural realization of real food: authentic and vibrant. The food comes first. Then everything else begins to take shape.
But what about real food? What is so unique about our food ethos?
Our co-owner John defines our food ethos as ingredient driven cuisine. This is the antithesis of chef driven cuisine. In our kitchens, all ingredients are thoughtfully procured with our customers’ well being in mind. 95% of ingredients found in traditional grocery stores are off-limits. Example: it is common chef wisdom to resort to the likes of canola oil for use in high temperature cook cycles due to canola oil’s high smoke point. All in the name of obtaining the perfect char. However if you spend five minutes researching how canola oil is made you’ll see for yourself that it’s highly unnatural. Spend another five minutes and you’ll understand its propensity for turning rancid before it’s even been bottled, due to its high heat extraction method. So rather than reverting to a product of this sort, we instead stick to our exclusive use of extra virgin olive oil, and explore lower temp. methods aimed at achieving the same finished product. This epitomizes the thought process behind each and every menu decision we’ve ever made.
Mother nature has a wonderful way of properly guiding our food choices. It presents us with a slew of amazing options, namely vegetables, which nourish us in a variety of ways and have tremendous synergy when combined together. There is an old adage that suggests a balanced diet is as simple as eating the rainbow. It is under this guidance that we espouse the virtues of real food. And it’s a fitting irony that this particular ethos provides. When you embrace real foods, the rainbow opens itself up to you, allowing for beautiful style and photography without any compromise to food integrity.
I decided to create Real Food Eatery because, well, someone had to do it. And Mike made me.
I had the good fortune of being raised by people with above average nutritional and lifestyle wisdom. My mother has been riding the anti-sugar bandwagon since the late 70’s, when most Americans were focused on eating low-fat diets. She’s also a great cook and put real food on the table nearly every night of my upbringing. My stepfather is a lifelong fitness coach who introduced me to a plethora of ways to care for the body.
Despite having a massive advantage, it took me nearly 15 years of daily reading and experimenting to land on the dietary and fitness lifestyle system that works for me today. Not too long ago, a switch flipped when I was introduced to the concept of looking backwards for answers and modeling my modern lifestyle around how our ancestors evolved. This was a total paradigm shift which lead me to question my entire belief system. I ditched the food pyramid, fired the government as my nutrition and lifestyle advisor and started paying close attention to Mother Nature’s wisdom.
It turns out that what works for me runs counter to most of the “expert recommendations” that were promoted by popular media throughout the majority of my life: I don’t eat breakfast, I don’t fear fat, I don’t eat whole grains, I don’t fear the sun, I don’t count calories, and I don’t do “cardio”. Yet I feel so much better than I did when I paid attention to those things. How could such popular beliefs not work for me? And why are the “answers” I discovered so rarely talked about in the public?
I can’t help but think how puzzling this must be for the bulk of our planet -- people who have no nutritional role models and lifestyle informants in their life. Or, perhaps worse yet, people who are diligently following the wrong set of rules and never reaching optimal health. I felt a responsibility to apply what I’ve learned (more accurately, un-learned) within the food industry and Mike basically forced me to take action. If it weren’t for him, RFE would still be a “cool idea”. His courage and entrepreneurial prowess made this a reality.
What makes Real Food Eatery Unique?
The food industry is strange. It is responsible for providing one of the most foundational components for human health and happiness (nourishment). However, it’s largely operated by people who know nothing about the topic. And that’s OK for some reason.
Other industries are constructed to protect the consumer. Consider financial services. Investment Advisors have a legal duty to provide advice that is aligned with the best interests of their client no matter how much the client understands about the advice given. This is called a fiduciary duty. The mechanism doesn’t always work, but it certainly helps. Where are the nourishment advisors in the food industry? Can you think of a restaurant that is owned and operated by people who have devoted their lives to studying Mother Nature’s wisdom? Why is this such a rare concept?
My purpose in creating Real Food Eatery is to serve as the world’s first Fooduciary; an organization designed from the ground up to protect and nourish our guests -- regardless of their knowledge level. People who know nothing about eating well can walk into our restaurant, enjoy a delicious meal, and be nourished -- no homework required. Or, a lifestyle enthusiast can study our menu, read every single ingredient that goes into every single dish (literally), talk directly with our chefs and owners about our cooking methods and rest assured that they are in good hands.
This is all possible because we have Mother Nature at the helm of our operation. All of our menu decisions are driven by her wisdom. Our job is to make the food taste amazing with the least amount of adulteration and bring it to the table at the most affordable price possible. This is an insanely hard job, but someone has to do it.