What happens when a chef, a wellness coach and a food photographer walk into a vegan restaurant? Sounds like a joke, but instead, it was a food adventure!
This month’s guest is Ken Immer (@culinaryhealthchief). The co-founder of Culinary Health Solutions (CHS), a Charleston-based company that helps individuals identify the strengths and weaknesses in an individual’s eating habits through a cool app they’ve developed, as well as coaching methods, which are designed to help people build new habits.
Our breakfast at Gnome was a fun experience from start to finish. We somehow managed to go down the rabbit hole of word definitions then made our way to what constitutes healthy eating.
Ken’s philosophy on healthy eating and wellness is at its very core simplicity and understanding what works for the individual. After one of his clients took the CHS quiz, Ken was able to determine that it wasn’t so much that the client didn’t like to cook or have the knowledge to do so, the client just wasn’t happy with his environment. Changing out the kitchen light fixture changed everything and from that point forward, the client was cooking up healthy foods in his well-lit kitchen.
Speaking of light!
Gnome cafe is a light and open space, located on the corner of President and Cannon Streets. The morning we visited the cafe, sunlight streamed through the windows that run alongside one side of the restaurant. We grabbed a table, then approached the counter to order, where we all chose something different to be sure we tasted as much as three people could in one sitting. Ken chose the breakfast burrito, Stacey had the hemp “sausage” biscuit with a fruit cup on the side and Danielle chose a Southern Kale Grits Bowl, the hemp “sausage” pattie and a chai latte.
Of course, when you have a meal with a food photographer, there’s no such thing as diving in as soon as the plates are set on the table. There’s arranging and staging, “napkin wrangling” and other tricks of the trade!
Once we were able to dive in, we enjoyed the tasty food that lived up to its promise of “quality ingredients and bold flavors coming together to create dishes to satisfy every kind of eater.”
Stacey says, “People are sometimes afraid to try unfamiliar foods, but I always encourage people to get out of their comfort zone for at least one meal a week. It’s amazing what you can discover just by venturing out of the familiar. If nothing else, you find out what you don’t like.”
Ken commented, “As a Chef, my measuring stick for amazing food is my ability to identify all the ingredients and processes in a dish, and knowing very quickly how I could recreate the dish. Gnome is a place where I am easily ‘fooled’ by their kitchen wizardry! Even though I have extensive experience cooking vegan foods, I’m never 100% sure how they make all of their items. Even something as ‘simple’ as their breakfast burrito can leave me wondering exactly how they made it so delicious!”
Danielle was impressed that the chefs at Gnome could make Portabella mushrooms taste like bacon in the Southern Kale Bowl. The entire dish had such a rich umami flavor that you didn’t even miss the meat! Also the portion sizes were so generous that all of us were struggling to finish our breakfast, even though it was all delicious.
The meal wrapped up with a the owner bringing us hot ginger water and energy balls. Ginger is a great for reducing inflammation in the body and easing muscle pains. More health benefits! Of course, we couldn’t touch anything until Danielle got a great shot of those too!
Looks like Gnome is on the list for future visits. It met all the requirements for healthier eating: natural ingredients, no additives and tasty combinations of spices & flavors. Thank you, Gnome.
And that’s a wrap!