Raised in Memphis on convenience foods, chef Ann Gentry acquired her culinary passions after she left college to pursue acting in New York. That's when she first encountered delicious vegetarian food—on the plates she served in a Greenwich Village restaurant between gigs. Around that time, she took her first yoga class and was smitten.
For Gentry, who now owns two Real Food Daily gourmet vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area, the connections between yoga and food have deepened over the years. At first, back in New York, as she taught herself to cook, her practice made her more conscious of what she was cooking and eating. Soon her appetite for creating taste and texture overtook her acting career.
Gentry's menus marry vegan cuisine with an Asian influence. Diners can choose grilled teriyaki seitan skewers with sweet rice and pineapple, or butternut squash, corn, and cilantro phyllo rolls. Her new book, The Real Food Daily Cookbook, reveals her secrets: fresh organic ingredients plus confidence and intuition in the kitchen.
Through good food, Gentry hopes people will find the balance she's discovered in yoga. "Most people are in a cycle with food, using it to stimulate and to pacify themselves," she says.
Thirty years ago, it was yoga's physicality that attracted her. But now she sees that the heart of the practice centers on quieting the mind. "What I'm serving here is food that wants to do the same thing—to nourish people at a deeper level," she says.