I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat at InnerG Cafe Grand Opening
by James Coulter
What do barbecue, cheeseburgers, loaded nachos, and buffalo chicken pizza all have in common? They’re all food made with meat. So, they’re not exactly food you can eat if you’re on a plant-based diet.
Or can you?
InnerG Cafe in Winter Haven offers various menu items, from “burgers” and “chicken” sandwiches to “barbecue” pizza and “seafood” platters, that will make customers not believe that they were made without meat.
Everything at InnerG Cafe, from the macaroni and cheese to the “steak” tips and “calamari” fritters, is 100 percent plant-based and vegan, with plenty of alkaline-free, gluten-free, and soy-free options to best meet your dietary needs.
“We have so many great options that are healthy and delicious,” said owner Chef Eimi. “I put my heart and soul and all the love that I have into the food that I prepare because my goal is to convert everybody [to a plant-based diet]. I want you to be like, ‘This is vegan? I am coming back tomorrow and bringing back my friends.'”
Chef Eimi is a whole-food plant-based chef who received her certification from Forks Over Knives two to three years ago. She is also a self-published author who released her cookbook “Love Language of Food” last year and her other book “35 Days, 35 Ways” years previously.
Eimi was inspired to start her eatery last year. She was tired of having to travel to cities like Orlando and Kissimmee for plant-based vegan options. So, she decided to start cooking and serving food out of her own house for two months.
There was only one problem: she wasn’t allowed to sell food out of her house.
Still, she remained determined to start her own eatery. Even when she prioritized other matters like publishing her cookbook and hosting courses and classes on plant-based cooking, her dream was to start her own restaurant.
That dream was realized earlier this year when she was notified of a food truck for sale. However, she had also received approval to work as an instructor at the University of Miami. She was stuck with a serious dilemma: work as a teacher or start her own business.
“I prayed and meditated on it,” she said. “I heard God tell me if I wanted to be prestigious or do I want to be powerful. So I never contacted Miami. The next day, I picked up the keys and closed the deal on the food truck…[When I checked it out], I had the same feeling when I purchased my house. It was home. I knew it was for me. I knew it was the time.”
Since February, she has worked tirelessly at her new food truck located along Lake Alfred Road across the street from the Gill Government Building. The surprised reaction from customers learning that all of her food was prepared without meat remains satisfying for her.
She understands the many problems people face today due to their high-meat diets, from high cholesterol and blood pressure to diabetes and colon cancer. She wants to educate the public about the wonders of a plant-based diet and how one does not need to sacrifice flavor.
Their most popular item has been the cheezeburger eggroll, an air-fried eggroll prepared in such a way that it tastes like a cheeseburger. Ever since one customer shared a post that was shared more than 83 times, it has remained the number one requested item, Chef Eimi said.
“A fire has been lit under me, and the goal is to educate people about plant-based food,” she said. “It is good healthy food, an alternative to what you have been used to. It is like comfort food so it does not feel or taste like you are missing anything.”
InnerG Cafe celebrated its grand opening last Friday with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Northeast Polk Chamber of Commerce. Several chamber board members had the opportunity to sample the menu items, including the chickpea salad hummus and buffalo barbecue pizza.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” said Executive Director Lana Stripling. “We are excited for Eimi because the food is phenomenal. She will do very well and be successful, and we are glad she is a chamber member with us.”
InnerG Cafe is located at 3500 Lake Alfred Rd, Winter Haven, FL 33881. For more information, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/InnerGCafe