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Cooking Vegan

Love Is Served

Inspired Plant-Based Recipes from Southern California

by (author) Seizan Dreux Ellis & Café Gratitude

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Apr 2020
Vegan, Individual Chefs & Restaurants, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2020
    List Price

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Bright, clean, and hip recipes to enchant vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, from plant-based haven Café Gratitude.

Before it was a fixture on the LA dining scene and a magnet for celebrity diners, Café Gratitude was founded with the simple ethos that joy derives from loving and being grateful for food, health, and good company. The dishes are named to double as affirmations of self. "I Am Fearless," "I Am Humble," and "I Am Open-Hearted" nod to the restaurant's core belief that food is just as much about spirit as it is about appetite. Since its beginnings, the café has changed locations, expanded, and been the backdrop for countless paparazzi shots. But the founding principles have remained the same, and the food continues to celebrate the flavors of plants with organic, from-scratch, and healthful ingredients free of animal products, gluten, processed soy, and, in almost all cases, refined sweeteners.

Now, with Love is Served, Dreux Ellis, executive chef at Café Gratitude, brings Gratitude-quality meals to your table and the soul and mission of the restaurant to your home. Indulge in café favorites "I Am Awakening" (raw key lime pie) and "I Am Passionate" (black lava cake) while cooking up hearty, nourishing dishes like Grilled Polenta with Mushroom Ragout ("I Am Warm-Hearted") and Radicchio, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Sundried Tomato Pesto Pizza ("I Am Gracious"). With unfussy methods and easy-to-access ingredients, this cookbook makes the wholesome satisfaction of the restaurant as accessible as ever for the home cook as it charms and inspires readers to change the way they look at food.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

CHEF DREUX ELLIS oversees the development and execution of the organic, plant-based menu at all Café Gratitude restaurants in Southern California. In April 2012, Dreux went to Venice, California as Executive Chef of Café Gratitude in Southern California, bringing his health-based, flavor driven cuisine to a wider audience. He now oversees the culinary direction at all the restaurants in Southern California. Café Gratitude is a vibrant global community of joyous gathering places where people come together to enjoy food and life.

Excerpt: Love Is Served: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes from Southern California (by (author) Seizan Dreux Ellis & Café Gratitude)

Café Gratitude began with a very simple mission: to serve as a gathering place—one where people could walk in feeling instantly accepted, discover a path to elevate their perspective on life, and connect with a like-minded community. That goal didn’t necessarily include having six locations throughout California, almost daily celebrity sightings, and a devout following of customers who treat our restaurants as an extension of their own kitchens and homes. But over the last seven years, that’s what our company has miraculously witnessed. While we of course owe much of that success to Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis’s inspired and enlightened plant-based offerings using ingredients that are just as kind to the Earth as they are to our bodies, we also trace these accomplishments to our humble and most dependable guides: love and gratitude. They are what permeate our culture, from the people who grow our food, to those who prepare and serve it, and to those who eat it. They are what inform our choices as a company, whether it’s supporting regenerative agriculture, consistently finding new ways to leave a smaller footprint on our planet, or serving foods that function as both indulgence and medicine. They are what saw us through the evolution from a small raw food café in San Francisco to an internationally recognized restaurant group. They were the beacons that fascinated Chef Dreux and allowed him to fill our menu with dishes that energize, comfort, and inspire; and they are what have knit a community from the millions of people who have graciously allowed us to serve them.

But to us, success is not just measured by tables filled or by anyone entering our spaces feeling welcome, appreciated, and satisfied. We believe that the true success of our mission is when these same individuals go out into the world ready to pass on those exceptional feelings. And so a more beautiful world is made. Now we’re passing on that love and gratitude to you, in the form of this book and our most treasured recipes that we’ve served over the years. As our food is just as much about spirit as it is about appetite, we invite you to welcome these recipes into your own home and, in turn, create and share the abundance.

Our Evolution
Café Gratitude’s founders, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, have always believed that given an open, supportive, and loving environment, people could be inspired to transform their lives. They also believe that changing your outlook and, in turn, your life, begins with a focus on gratitude—and that each of us has much to be grateful for, no matter our circumstances. To their minds, turning our attention from what we don’t have to all that we have been given is a foundation for meaningful human growth. Although they weren’t necessarily looking to open a restaurant as the encapsulation of these ideas, that’s exactly what they did. The first Café Gratitude opened in 2004 in the Mission District of San Francisco. They served 100 percent plant-based, organic, from-scratch, raw foods—being among the first in this country to do so. They coupled that with the concept of Sacred Commerce, or the philosophy that a functioning business can also be a place of empowerment, giving employees—or Advocates, as they are referred to—a place to feel heard and appreciated. The idea was that this acknowledgment would be passed on to the customers, who in turn would feel nourished, both physically and emotionally, and bring that feeling with them out into the world. Matthew and Terces planted the seed that love is a contagious way of being.

In 2011, Terces and Matthew partnered with CEO Lisa Bonbright and her husband Chris to bring Café Gratitude 2.0 to Southern California. Along with the Engelhart’s adult children Cary and Ryland—now our Chief Operations Officer and Chief Inspiration Officer, respectively—the team opened our first Los Angeles restaurant in Larchmont Village. Over the next seven years, our company Love Serve Remember opened 5 more locations in Venice, the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Diego, and Newport Beach. But despite our growth, our core values and mission have remained the same.

Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis joined the endeavor to open more hearts and minds to plant-based food in 2008. After helping the Engelharts and Chef Chandra Gilbert (now the Executive Chef at our sister restaurant Gracias Madre) deliver their vision in the Bay Area, he stepped into the role of Executive Chef in Los Angeles in 2011. While still honoring the founding principles of Café Gratitude, Chef Ellis expanded and evolved the menu to include cooked foods in addition to some of the beloved original raw offerings (including the then-trailblazing selection of raw desserts—Gratitude classics have never come off our menu for fear of revolt, and are included in this book). He brought with him a deep understanding of how to celebrate the flavors of plants in their most natural state, while also creating dishes that scratch the deepest of indulgent itches for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike. But no matter how seemingly naughty—Cinnamon Rolls, ‘Chicken-Fried’ Oyster Mushrooms and Waffles, Eggplant Parmesan, Mole Abuelita Enchiladas, Black Lava Cake—each of these offerings call for organic, from-scratch, healing, and healthful ingredients free of animal products, gluten, processed soy, and, in almost all cases, refined sweeteners. Testament to just how inventive, satisfying, and full-flavored the food is: only 20 percent of our customers are vegetarian or vegan.

Throughout the growth of Café Gratitude, there is one thread that has continued to firmly connect us to our founding principles: our affirmations and Questions of the Day. Looking at our menu—and through this book—you’ll notice that each dish has its own unique pronouncement: “I am Thriving;” “I am Open-Hearted;” “I am Powerful.” These affirmations have been a part of the Gratitude culture since day one and are a special part of the transformative process. There’s something subtle yet powerful that happens when you say to your server, “I am Serene,” and they then say back to you, “You are Serene.” It’s then repeated as the server passes the order on to the kitchen, back to the server as the order is ready, and again to you. It’s a series of simple moments that manage to create a tangible energetic shift, and it’s a reflection of one of our guiding truths: You are nourished just as much by your food as you are by your thoughts. The same goes for the Question of the Day, which our servers share with our guests if they’re interested in receiving it. “What’s something that brought you joy today?” “What are you afraid of?” “What are you most grateful for?” Our guests are invited to discuss among themselves, and it’s an opportunity to open and reflect. If you’re interested in creating that space in your own home, we’ve included both our signature affirmations as well as some sample Questions of the Day throughout the book. We encourage you to take a moment before your meal—whether it’s just you or a gathering of family and friends—to consider the question, share your findings, and say aloud the affirmation. Should you not want to partake, we assure you that your food will be every bit as soul-stirring as it is delicious.

Our goal for this book is to bring the expression of love from our restaurants into your home. Eating living, plant-based foods has had a profound effect on all of our lives, which we want to extend to you. It’s also challenged us to find new, delectable ways to share these plants. This book is the culmination of that effort, offering you the ability to make Gratitude-quality food in your own kitchen. The dishes you’ll find here are handpicked, first and foremost, because they are Café Gratitude favorites. They are recipes that our guests have grown to crave over the years and have requested time and time again. We’ve taken care to make them as home cook-friendly as possible, while still staying true to the from-scratch essence of our food. They are recipes for all day, every day, featuring easy to access, easy to use ingredients. We’ve also included a few more challenging recipes for special occasions and gatherings, though nothing we won’t help see you through. We invite you to play with these recipes, dabbling with individual sauces, dressings, or cheeses; making them your own and tailoring them to your tastes and preferences. We are honored to be a part of your journey and wish you fulfilling, delicious success!

Editorial Reviews

“I've been a fan of Café Gratitude's restaurants for years, and now, I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy their inventive, delicious food at home! If you love creative, nourishing everyday cooking, you need this book.”
—Jeanine Donofrio, author of Love and Lemons Every Day

“Out of all of the food and restaurants I've experienced around the world, Cafe Gratitude is still one of my absolute favorites.”
—Woody Harrelson 
“Café Gratitude is a restaurant of the future. Plants have never tasted so good with their focus on clean, healthy ingredients and delicious flavors. As we heal our bodies, we heal our relationship to Mother Earth. ”
—Gisele Bundchen

“Café Gratitude is hands down my favorite restaurant. This cookbook brings their delicious food home to you. ”
—Jaden Smith 

“Café Gratitude's food philosophy embodies the message I've spent most of my life trying to convey. Food is our medicine. They not only curate the most delicious, organic, nutrient-dense meals, but they use their business to remind us of the essential ingredient in life, gratitude. ”
—Mark Hyman, M.D.
“Café Gratitude has been a leader and innovator in growing the plant based movement. Whether you're a chef or new to the kitchen, this book will have you successfully enjoying delicious, wholesome, plant-rich meals. ”
—John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods
“Featuring bright plant-based recipes to appeal to vegans and omnivores alike, Love Is Served brings Café Gratitude’s wholesome recipes directly to home kitchens.”
LA Weekly

“Long-time plant-based eatery Café Gratitude’s new cookbook . . . brings its most popular recipes into the comfort of readers’ homes with un-fussy methods and accessible ingredients. We can’t wait to whip up the ‘I Am Passionate’ (Black Lava Cake) for a special Valentine’s Day treat!”
Veg News