Michael Stebner is executive chef at True Foods Kitchen, a chain of restaurants developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and Phoenix restaurateur Sam Fox with the goal of serving great-tasting food that also happens to be nutritious. After the successful opening of the first True Foods Kitchen in Phoenix, the restaurant has become a popular dining destination in many locations in the southwest with a long-term goal of going national.
At True Foods Kitchen, Chef Stebner prepares creative, delicious recipes using as much local, seasonal, and organic ingredients as possible. He incorporates a variety of whole and cracked grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices into each dish to create better-for-you menu options that nourish the mind, body, and spirit.
Was cooking always a passion for you?
Yes, I was always interested in cooking. My mom was a great cook and I helped her a lot while growing up but never knew that I could make a career out of it.
Can you tell me more about what the True Food philosophy is?
The True Food philosophy is about making great tasting food from nutrient-dense ingredients with minimal manipulation. At True Food Kitchen, we believe that whole foods speak for themselves.
What is one of the most rewarding aspects of working as a natural, health-conscious chef?
Feeling like you are actually helping people to live better. I enjoy being able to educate other culinary professionals and our guests on the True Food philosophy.
What is your favorite meal this time of year? Do you have a favorite dish at the restaurant?
I love holiday feasts because they are about sharing with the people you care about. At True Food Kitchen, I love the Autumn Ingredient Salad because it's pure, satisfying and an awesome way to eat several servings of vegetables in one dish.
Where do you like to find inspiration for new recipe ideas?
I read a lot, eat out a lot, and conspire with other chefs and our founder, Sam Fox. I also find inspiration while cooking for my own family.
Is there a dish that you are looking forward to preparing for your family and friends this holiday season?
I'll be cooking dinner this year in our outdoor pizza oven. I'm really looking forward to preparing brick oven–roasted Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard gratin, and sweet potatoes.
Talia Fuhrman, daughter of Joel Fuhrman M.D., has a B.A. in nutritional sciences from Cornell University and is currently working on a psychology, nutrition, and healthy recipe book for young women called Love Your Body to be published early next year. Visit her website taliafuhrman.com and her Facebook page for nutrition advice and yummy vegan recipes.