Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, June 2020
Written by Gail G. Collins
After building a successful brand nut butter brand FBOMB, husband and wife duo Ross and Kara Taylor shifted gears to open their first restaurant , The REAL Kitchen. Expanding on their healthy, high fat snack business, The REAL Kitchen was opened to create clean, quality meals for busy families like themselves. The soft opening, which tested the a la carte menu, had been a happy event. But the restaurant opened its door just five days before Flagstaff’s city-wide shutdown in March to slow the spread of COVID-19, leaving the savvy small business owners a bit blindsided.
“No one expected that, and we are wholly invested—we don’t have financial backers,” Ross explained.
The pandemic instead led the Taylors to focus on one of their secondary goals to keep the restaurant afloat.
“We had planned all along to do heat-at-home meals,” Kara said; it just came into play sooner than they had anticipated.
The restaurant’s heat-at-home meals come as family style dishes, like beef stroganoff, smoky molasses pork tenderloin or custom choices with an array of sides, like quinoa and a solid selection of drinks. The meals also offer a wide selection of drinks from chardonnay and ginger beer to bubbly waters and kombucha.
The benefits in picking up dinner from The REAL Kitchen are convenience of preparation—flash-thawing flat pack boil-in-bags that go to the table in 30 minutes or less—and quality food options with minimal additives and processing. As their Website suggests: Don’t compromise, order online.
“We’re trying to offer value meals for the checkbook squeezed,” Kara said, but there is no skimping on ingredients.
Ross and Kara began their quest for clean eating with their first business, FBOMB, which has been praised by Forbes, Men’s Health, Popsugar and ABC News. Their low-carb, high-fat snacks, like keto-friendly bars, crisps and nut butters are naturally good and packed with energy.
The same attention to detail is applied at The REAL Kitchen. Finding suppliers that were up to their standards proved more difficult than first imagined, and they emphasize the importance of product quality all the way down the supply chains. Items are as organic and local as possible, from sources such as Arizona-based Shamrock, Grand Canyon spices, NexVeg, Drinking Horn and veggies grown in Yuma. The result is a gluten-free baseline utilizing only avocado, coconut and extra virgin olive oil in their recipes.
“There is something for everyone from vegan to carnivore,” Kara said. “A group with disparate needs can all eat here.”
Whether the dietary restrictions are self- or health-imposed, there is a variety of appetizing dishes available to diners. The goal is accessible food that is fast, but not fast food. Batch preparation streamlines the practice for efficiency and no waste. Enjoy dairy-free chicken masala, Austin steak bites or NexVeg plantballs, or nosh on coconut oil-roasted cashews sprinkled with Redmond salt and smoked black pepper that taste magical.
“We oven roast everything,” Ross said. “The labor is in the scratch sauces with better oils and quality ingredients, preparation and simplified cooking for consistency.”
Even The REAL Kitchen’s décor benefitted from the team’s ingenuity and handcrafting. Ross and Kara brought in a crew of FBOMB employees to gut the space and rebuild it. A color scheme of scarlet and ebony is edgy against sleek steel and slate, but finds harmony in organic overtones. A leaf motif is found in the lighting, beneath the bar and table partition. Each leaf was hand-drawn and cut from sheet metal.
“That was Kara’s idea,” Ross said generously. “Every good idea was Kara’s.”
The REAL Kitchen reopened for Happy Hours on May 22, showing off a striking patio with its signature colors. A hotshot stopped in after a busy day and sampled the pork chili verde and sighed. She took a nourishing flat pack home to the family. She will be back.
“We are the little gem in Sherwood Forest,” Ross said with a grin. NAMLM
The REAL Kitchen is open Monday-Sunday 3-7 p.m. at 2509 S. Milton Road in the Sherwood Forest Shopping Center. Visit www.eatatthereal.com for more information and to place an order.