Roxanne’s Café, a Food Oasis
Chef Roxanne Lapuyade has some cooking advice for you: “Feel free to bend and change the rules,” she encourages while explaining the organic development of her own food backstory. From Monday to Saturday, Roxanne performs lunch in the tiny kitchen and beautiful sunny courtyard of Roxanne’s Café behind Smiling Dog Yoga in San Luis Obispo (1227 Archer Street).
Growing up, she learned about the strict rules of baking from her dad who owned a French bakery in San Mateo. From an early age she preferred the freedom of cooking which has fewer rules than baking and, if done well with a foundation in flavor and technique, can flow like the best improv. “There are no rules for what I’m doing,” she smiles, “because it’s all up to me.” Her signature Kitchen Sink Salad offers a delicious illustration of how good flavor can happen differently every day through a creative approach to fresh, local ingredients and a commitment to organics.
The Power of Local Produce
Which leads us to Roxanne’s next piece of cooking advice: “Use fresh organic ingredients from local producers whenever you can.” Roxanne’s Café employs local organic vegetables and fruits from a variety of sources including the farmers market, the Natural Foods Co-op (where she worked for years as produce manager), and new local farming ventures such as Big Tony’s Organics. She’s been cooking with farmers market produce since she was a teenager. Once she discovered the farmers market, she shopped there every weekend to discover new flavors and ingredients for cooking.
Click to listen: “An essential part of my life.”
Before discovering the variety and flavor of farmers market produce, she ate a rather limited vegetarian diet since deciding to become vegetarian at 14 after learning about vegetarianism at a punk rock show. As she came to know the farmers, they would point her toward new flavors: “Here, try this, it’s good!” With a strong network of organic and local suppliers for Roxanne’s Café, “If you have any questions about any fruit or vegetable,” says Roxanne, “I can tell you about who produced it and the farm where it grows.” Her personal knowledge of local organic producers helps root Roxanne’s Café in what we hope remains a fruitful space that supports this new business and invites it to thrive.
Family Roots of Loving Food
When Roxanne’s mother told her daughter that, if she wanted to become a vegetarian she’d have to cook for herself, they both agreed to this new paradigm because, as her Cuban grandparents observed recently, “it’s in your blood—it’s just in there!” Roxanne’s family history is steeped in food and flavor: her father’s Lapuyade side of the family includes several relatives who owned Bay Area French restaurants while her mother’s Cuban side of the family spiced their family food history with pulled pork and beans and rice.
“A true Lapuyade!”
After learning to cook out of vegetarian necessity, Roxanne began to discover more about healing food when she lived with a roommate who had developed food-related health issues. Armed with the knowledge she had gained recently from a 9-hour marathon session reading Susan Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions based on Weston Price’s research, Roxanne agreed to make creative, flavorful food without using white flour, white sugar, and other heavily processed items for her roommate and herself. In return, she was liberated for three years from doing any housework: good trade!
“I just like playing with food all day,” says Roxanne, who has channelled her expansive food experiences into delicious, healthy dishes at one of our favorite new places in SLO for lunch. Roxanne deeply appreciates the help her friends provide in making it possible for her to focus on the food.
Generally, every menu item is vegan. We’re partial to her spring rolls that feature a striking pattern of beautiful fruits and vegetables peering through the rice paper wrap and accompanied with a cashew dip and cilantro. These spring rolls look like something served at a Mad Hatter’s organic lunch. Fresh!
Roxanne’s Café hopes to provide a food oasis for those who desire flavorful, healthy, responsible food. She brings to this sincere venture skills and experience she developed from her lifetime of cooking experience, including most recently as sous chef at Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles. “I have this fabulous cookbook memory,” Roxanne declares, which is music to our ears as we look forward to more creative cuisine from this food oasis and its creative chef.