VitaBowl is a subscription-based, nutritionist approved plant-based superfood bowl now serving the D2C market in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Headquartered in San Francisco, the hot new startup aims to mitigate the nationwide crises of health diseases through the production of wholesome, nutrient-dense meals. Boasting distinctive health benefits, each bowl is designed to serve a specific purpose such as boosting mood, aiding digestion, or enhancing gut health and comes in five plant-based cuisine varieties: Cali, Mediterranean, Latin, Indian, and Korean.
Millennial caught up with Dominique Crenn, Head of VitaBowl’s Culinary Council and the first 3 Michelin Star female Chef in the United States to discuss how she crafted the global-inspired meals and how she plans to spread her message that “food is medicine”.
What is your background as a Chef and what led you to start VitaBowl?
I never attended culinary school… I instead went to business school in France, but couldn’t ignore the call of cooking. I love comforting people, of nourishing them, of using my kitchen as a place to story-tell. This love has led me to having my own restaurants in San Francisco, including Atelier Crenn, which has three Michelin stars, the first female-run restaurant in the United States with that accolade. When the Covid crisis hit, I knew I had to share my love of cooking and nurturing with a broader audience who needed to be fed while also staying home. The partnership with Vitabowl was born out of that; Charles and I both wanted to create nutritious meals that people could access.
How has your food journey evolved over your career?
The ingredients have varied and evolved, but the vision is still the same. For me, food is a language and a platform. You share your life and your beliefs through what you put on a plate. My cooking has always been deeply personal and has been a way of me sharing memories from the past. It’s also been a way of me sharing my political convictions. For example, I took meat off of all my menus, not because I think no one should ever eat meat, but because meat is complicated and we have to be more strategic in the food industry if we’re going to serve it. We have to think of the impact it takes in raising these animals and in the waste created after we take our choice cuts. Now I’m extremely interested in vegetarian and vegan dishes…I think healthy and sustainability are the new luxury.
Explain the ethos behind VitaBowl’s beliefs regarding which ingredients you select and how you choose to prepare them.
I only want to cook with the best ingredients. Nothing ever has to be complicated if the base ingredients are high quality. So that thought process goes into it, as does choosing ingredients that are going to balance the body. Right now, we need to not only be thinking of flavor but of how healthful our meals are. They can be both delicious and nutritious (I actually think the more nutritious, the more delicious…)
What have been some of the challenges and rewards that have come with COVID?
We have had to completely slow down as a world. Staying home, cooking for ourselves…these are all good things in general, but of course we’ve all seen the costs. It’s had a huge impact on the restaurant industry and we are going to need our government to step in and help us as an industry survive. We are the backbone of this country. I love that people are home taking care of themselves and thinking of their help, but I want to find a way to balance that with preserving my beloved restaurant industry.
What is your personal favorite salad on the menu?
Don’t make me choose, it’s like picking a favorite child! But, because I love California so much, the Cali-style holds a special place in my heart.
“Ancient wisdom is best served in modern solutions.” Describe how you research food history and incorporate this “ancient wisdom” into the menu.
I am always telling my cooks to look back at history and at how people used to eat. Meat, for example, was a small and rare luxury that only the ultra-rich indulged in from time to time. Hard-working people in the past knew that they could sustain themselves with produce and with grains… so I think people need to think outside the box and stop looking for the animal protein in every dish. Let the beautiful fruits and vegetables and grains that the Earth gives us be the star of the show.
What are VitaBowl’s short and long terms goals?
Short term, we want to knock everyone’s socks off with our delicious creations. Long term, I think we want to be able to share these meals with more people. I love cooking for my friends and family in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but I’m excited by the idea of sharing food with people from parts of the country I’ve never even been to. It’s a way of traveling, another way of story-telling.