Raw Vegan Fast Food? Yes Please!
Edible Innovation at Rawdaddy Goods in Palo Alto
As a culinary movement, raw food can get a bad rap. Given spoilage concerns and steep pricing at many raw restaurants, everyday omnivores may struggle to understand the appeal. One Silicon Valley chef aims to change this perception, one crunchy cone at a time.
“I want to bring vegan raw food to the masses with an In-N-Out-style menu,” says James Hall, better known as RawDaddy, of Raw-Daddy Foods in Palo Alto. “I believe healthy fast food is the future, and it should be accessible to everyone.”
Through his Bay Area catering business and weekly farmers market stall, RawDaddy serves a colorful menu of savory and sweet raw food in flaxseed cones. With a few seasonal exceptions, all menu items are created from scratch and “simmer” in dehydrators at low heat for several hours to remove moisture and change the food’s texture. This slow process preserves naturally occurring enzymes and vital nutrients while promoting healthy digestion. Fans also rave about raw food’s flavor.
So how does James Hall apply the tenets of raw food to a fast-food format? With lots of prep work and the help of his family.
As a family-owned street food start-up, RawDaddy Foods depends heavily on James’s brother and sister, Doug and Allyson, to help prep and serve the food. Every Sunday, the three siblings work the California Avenue farmers market in Palo Alto.
“Family is everything,” says James, who is seeking a brick-and-mortar location in the region so he can continue working close to his parents and help raise his two sons.
Many of RawDaddy’s most popular cones–including the Thanksgiving Plate, featuring marinated mushrooms, quinoa cauliflower, truffled root purée, vegan gravy, cranberry sauce and more, all stuffed into a cone–are seasonal offerings. Others, like the savory Forest Earth Mushroom Polenta cone (raw polenta, marinated mushrooms, tangy sauce) and the sweet Mango Cheesecake cone (blended cashews, coconut, mango and agave, topped with macadamias), appear on the menu year-round.
Other crowd-pleasers include the Spicy Thai Salad, the Reuben and the new Barbecue Cone, which tastes remarkably similar to a smoked meat sandwich. For dessert, RawDaddy’s dairy-free ice cream–such as the Green Tea Pistachio ice cream, which helped Hall win the first San Francisco Vegan Iron Chef competition as sous-chef to Lisa Books-Williams–is a summer blockbuster that often sells out.
“Our goal is not to convert people to raw food or veganism,” he says. “It’s to show the world how delicious healthy fast food can be.”