One fateful day in the emergency room, Ned and Lisa Heath heard the words no parent could imagine, “You could have lost your daughter.”
At only six months old, the Heath’s middle child, Sarah, was diagnosed with a nut, wheat and kiwi allergy. At the time, they didn’t realize how serious it was, nor were they educated on life-threatening food allergies. However, everything changed on that day. The day Sarah took one bite of a granola bar at preschool.
The Heath’s quickly learned how scary and isolating food allergies can be. They wanted to protect their daughter and ensure they’d never hear those words again. They immersed themselves in the allergen community, learning everything they could. They also found themselves spending a ton of time in the kitchen, preparing meals that were safe to eat, and that their whole family would enjoy.
As this new world became their reality, they found themselves asking the same question. How do we keep this from happening again while still allowing their daughter to have a normal life? They also wanted to help kids like Sarah and their families. So they began to wonder, “What IF?”
What IF there was a safe place to eat? What IF those with allergies could have everything on the menu? What IF nobody had to eat at a separate table? What IF everyone could enjoy a meal again with family and friends?
Fast-forward five years. In December of 2018, the Heath’s opened Intentional Foods Café & Market in Mesa. The restaurant was born out of a desire to provide the community with allergy-friendly meals and foster an inclusive dining experience. Prior to joining the real estate world, Ned was a trained chef, finishing his culinary career (so he thought) as an executive chef for Hilton Corporation. Lisa had also switched gears from front of house restaurant supervision to managing vacation rentals. The two always had a passion for the restaurant industry, and they knew they were uniquely prepared to be the change.
At Intentional Foods, everything is made from scratch. The Heath’s ensure that every product brought into the restaurant is manufactured in facilities they can trust, down to the salt and pepper. The menu is free from the top food allergens: wheat, peanuts, eggs, dairy, seafood, shellfish, soy, sesame, and tree nuts. They also use as much locally sourced, organically grown, and responsibly farmed produce as possible. If they won’t feed it to their family, you won’t find it on the menu.
With counter service ordering and a homey, farmhouse chic vibe, the restaurant is equally equipped for quick grab-and-go orders or a leisurely meal with family and friends. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is even a small market that sells allergen-free snacks and beverages.
Fan favorites on the breakfast menu include the Hacienda Hash Bowl with grass fed shredded carne, roasted sweet potatoes, unfried beans, salsa fresca, pickled jalapenos and green cabbage, finished with a house-made garlic-lemon aioli and garnished with cilantro and shaved red onion. The Smashed Avo Toast features smashed avocado, tomato, micro greens, seasoned with pink Himalayan salt, pepper, and granulated garlic, topped with radish. The gluten-free sourdough bread is baked fresh at a bakery in San Francisco and sent directly to Intentional Foods.
For lunch and dinner, guests can select from a variety of bowls, plates, salads and sandwiches. Kids can choose their own adventure by creating a meal from a selection of proteins and sides, all served with organic fruit and veggies.
A signature entrée, the Island-inspired Pulled Pork and Cabbage dish showcases slow roasted and hand shredded pork simmered in a teriyaki-style reduction, served with organic short grain rice and macaroni salad. The House Chop Salad is a spring mix of lettuces, marinated artichoke hearts, tomato wedges, broccoli, carrot ribbons, and sliced radishes, tossed in creamy balsamic vinaigrette. Chef Ned suggests adding turmeric seasoned chicken. Served on the same delicious, chewy sourdough bread, the Chick Salad Sammy features organic chicken mixed in house mayo with celery, onions, carrots, and pickles, spread with lemon aioli and kale.
Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy a chef’s daily selection of baked goods, including donuts, cookies, cupcakes and other assorted pastries.
The Heath’s have built a family-like community at Intentional Foods. Guests return again-and-again because of their welcoming personalities and of course, the amazing food. And, one thing is for sure at Intentional Foods. Ned and Lisa’s unwavering promise is simple: allergy-friendly, safe and delicious…always.
Intentional Foods is located at 1837 W. Guadalupe Road in Mesa. For more information, call 480.264.7002 or visit http://www.intetionalfoods.org
By Holly Harmon
Photo Courtesy of Intentional Foods Café & Market