It is DAY 4 of the "Gluten Free Vegan Recipes" series and I am honored to feature one the biggest stars in the vegan community, the incredible Ann Gentry, founder of one of my favorite L.A restaurants, Real Food Daily. I honestly cannot rave enough about Ann, her delicious recipes, and her restaurants. I eat at RFD at least once a week, and always sit surrounded by other happy patrons all singing the praises of the fresh organic, local, vegan food. I swear I have contemplated selling my soul for the vegan crab cakes. I have been known to order four plates in one sitting! Oh My....
So who is the lovely lady that is nourishing so many people?
Ann Gentry was born in Tennessee, and grew up in a home filled with great food and a love of entertaining. Ann became interested in vegetarian cuisine whilst living in New York City during the 1980’s. She became fascinated with the relationship between food and health. So, she fused Eastern Macrobiotic cooking principles and a Western culinary style in spectacular fashion to create her own unique “gourmet whole food cuisine."
In 1986, after years of working off-Broadway as an actress and waiting tables in NYC, Ann relocated to Los Angeles and became the personal chef to Danny DeVito. Word quickly spread about Ann's incredible food, and for five years she ran a thriving gourmet home food delivery service with many loyal clients. With demand growing, Ann opened the first Real Food Daily in 1993. This original, successful Santa Monica location sill exists, and since then, Ann has opened RFD locations in West Hollywood and Pasadena, and hopefully more to come! Please please.
For the last few decades, Ann has been instrumental in raising the profile, standard, expectations, and perception of vegetarian food in America. She is widely considered in the culinary world as a pioneer of organic vegan cuisine. Her recipes have been published in countless publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Vegetarian Times, Cooking Light, Fit, Fit Yoga, Veg News; and articles and reviews of Real Food Daily have appeared in Esquire, Self, Allure, Longevity, Los Angeles Magazine, US Weekly, InStyle, Daily Variety, and many others.
In addition to this, Ann is the executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine, where she contributes recipes and articles about healthy living. Ann has also written columns for other publications, and been a spokesperson for various whole foods companies. She is in huge demand as as a guest chef, having appeared prestigious places such as Canyon Ranch in Arizona, Pritikin Longevity Center, Robert Mondavi Wine Center, Natural Foods Expo and the Environmental Media Awards in California. Ann is also a highly respected teacher, having taught at the annual conference of the North American Vegetarian Society; at Central Market in Texas; the World Arts & Cultures program at UCLA; and many other places.
Ann enjoys a wonderful on-camera career, having filmed 52 episodes of a half-hour cooking show called Naturally Delicious with Ann Gentry, which airs on the Veria channel on The Dish Network, Verizon FIOS and in Canada on The Brand New One. Ann has also appeared the Today Show; TV Guide show; the Discovery Channel as a celebrity chef host on Planet Green/Supper Club; and on several Food Network shows such as Bobby Flay’s Food Nation. Check out her many videos.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ann at IFBC in Santa Monica last year after being connected on Twitter, and it was an epoch in my life as a vegan food blogger. She is so knowledgable, kind, down-to-earth, relaxed, fun, and inviting. I just adore her.
We are so fortunate to have Ann and RFD in Los Angeles. But fear not, the rest of you don't have to miss out! Ann has authored three cookbooks, Vegan Family Meals, Real Food For Everyone, and The Real Food Daily Cookbook. Ten Speed Press has graciously granted permission to publish Real Food Daily's famous Vegan "Better With Cheddar" Nachos that are to die for! Cream dreamers, you are in for a treat! This vegan take on a classic Mexican favorite is decadent and delicious. You would never know this was vegan. The best thing about this wonderful recipe? You can make any of the components (the guacamole, sour cream, black beans, and pico de gallo) and enjoy them in a variety of other dishes.
Ten Speed Press kindly sent me a fresh copy of the book for the purposes of this post, However, I have owned a copy of this book since it was released in 2005. My well loved, dog-eared copy takes pride of place in my kitchen. This book is gorgeous, and full of accessible, easy, incredible vegan recipes. There are so many good ones (I have made them all - Yes, my name is Tess, and I am an Ann Gentry groupie) but some of my favorites include: the Lentil Walnut Pate, Mushroom Gravy, Asparagus and Cilantro Soup, Ying Yang Salad with Peanut Sesame Dressing, Indian Quinoa Salad, Red Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Okra, Tempeh Meat Loaf, and Tofu Cheesecake with Raspberry Puree. The stunning food photography by Jessica Boone entices the reader to try every single recipe, as does Ann's simple instructions.
This book is a fantastic guide to vegan cooking. Ann shares her personal journey with food, as well as handy tips on eating locally, organically, and seasonally. She also inspires confidence in the kitchen by sharing some practical cooking hints about shopping, preparing, and serving food; and provides an easy ingredient and kitchen tool glossary. I especially like her "Top Twenty Real Foods to Always Have in Your Kitchen."
I honestly can't rave enough about this book or Ann. She really is a rockstar of the vegan world. The best thing is, there is no ego with this lovely lady, She acts just like the happy mother that she is. Watching her cook, you can't help but wish she was cooking at home for you. Lucky family she has. For the rest of us, we will keep reading her books and her blog.
Ann, thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do to grace and inspire the world of plant based nutrition. You amaze me.
Special thanks to Kelly Snowden of Ten Speed Press for making this post possible. You rock!
Learn more about Ann Gentry at Real Food Daily
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