I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of my favorite restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina a few weeks ago. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner, Chef Peter Pollay. Posana Cafe opened its doors in 2009 in downtown Asheville. It has seen wonderful success since it opened its doors. When I asked Chef Peter where the name Posana came from he said that Posana means “to nourish.” That is exactly what his restaurant sets out to do in a very beautiful way. Posana Cafe is a 100% gluten free, farm to table restaurant that features a locally inspired seasonal menu. Yes, you heard me right. 100% Gluten Free and locally inspired. Posana partners with local farmers and producers to bring fresh and inspiring dishes to the table. Their website lists their local partners offering customers the experience of knowing exactly where their food is coming from.
Newly Renovated Eco-Friendly Space
Not only does Posana turn out some of the best food in the area, but it is also a Certified Green Restaurant. One interesting fact about Chef Peter is that he used to be in Real Estate and his former passion paved the way for the changes he brought about at Posana. Did you know that Asheville is the Nation’s Greenest Dining Destination and Chef Peter was very involved in making that happen. Posana was newly renovated and is absolutely beautiful! The restaurant has reduced their environmental impact through the following:
- full scale composting and recycling program
- sourcing local foods
- 100% sustainably raised, hormone and antibiotic free fresh meats and fish
- auto sensor faucets to improve water conservation
- energy star appliances
- hot water on demand and auto sensor lights to reduce energy consumption
- re-utilization of original tables, chairs, and bar stools
- low VOC paints and sustainable material selections for interior decor
- solar-powered hot water systems
You can find out more about restaurants going green at Dine Green.
Brunch was Top Quality
For our visit we decided to try out Brunch. We were VERY excited to have some of our favorite comfort foods while not having to worry about gluten, as we eat gluten-free. That meant everything on the menu was an option! If any of you eat gluten free or deal with food intolerances/allergies on a daily basis then you can understand the burden that is lifted when a restaurant is able to provide you with food choices to help you honor your body. That is what Posana did for us. I ordered the Southern Style Benedict and my husband and Mother-in-Law ordered the special pancakes for the day. My husband treated himself to a chocolate scone while us ladies enjoyed a beautiful and delicious cappuccino. Brunch did not disappoint. I could have eaten another plate of my Eggs Benedict, but I decided against it.
Posana’s food really is exceptional. I’ve eaten there a handful of times for lunch and have never left disappointed. It of course is not only the gluten free thing, but also the fresh and local ingredients. Posana refuses to compromise on quality and it shows. All of Posana’s dishes, desserts, and pastries are made from scratch and feature natural and locally available ingredients. According to Posana’s Website they say:
“We see ingredients as those items which require a little washing, trimming, and seasoning- not something from a box or can.”
As far as quality goes Chef Peter is very particular about what he allows to come into the restaurant. He said that he is very involved in the process of finding the right farmers and producers that he does business with. He asks the tough questions about how the animal was raised, what it ate, and how it died. Seafood is sustainably harvested. Chicken, pork, and eggs are cafe free. Beef is pasture raised. Veal is crate free. All meats are hormone and antibiotic free and are certified humanely raised.
My Interview with Chef Peter
Let me just tell you that sitting down with Chef Peter once brunch was over was such an honor! I found him to be personable, humble, and inspiring in many ways. Chef Peter was educated at the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated with honors. He has worked in both New York City and Chicago with some of the greats in the restaurant industry: including WolfGang Puck, David Burke, Waldy Malouf, and Larry Levy. Chef Peter described moving to a smaller city as something very special to him. He loves the smaller community and local partnerships he has developed.
The choice to go gluten-free came upon Chef Peter and his family suddenly when his wife became diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease while pregnant. It was the only obvious choice at the time. When I asked Chef Peter about this transition he described it as one that was “easier” for his family to make. They were already cooking with fresh ingredients and simply just needed to change the type of grains they were eating. I asked Chef Peter if he noticed any personal health changes when he started eating gluten-free and he said that he found he had more energy. I loved hearing that response because it is one I often hear from people who make the switch.
One of the philosophies that Chef Peter shared with us is that they simply “do what they can.” He said that it is something his family does as well as the restaurant. When I asked him to explain more he said that he tries to prioritize his purchases in this order: 1) Organic, 2) Local, and 3) Fresh over Frozen. He explained that an individual cannot be perfect all the time as it is just impossible. Seasons change as well as the farmers market options. Location plays a huge role in how people obtain their food as well as budget. I could not have agreed any more with the “do what you can” statement as this is something we here at Considering You try to emphasize.
He described the overarching philosophy or goal of Posana as wanting to:
“Nourish everyone who walks through our doors including my wife and I, all the employees, and all of our customers.”
I really enjoyed picking Chef Peter’s brain and I asked him what tips he could give to our readers (you) for cooking gluten-free/whole foods. He gave some pretty cool advice:
- Prep before to save time later.
- Use thinner cuts of meats to cook faster.
- Fish is always an easy, fast, and healthy choice.
- Get the kids involved by letting them participate in the shopping and cooking process.
- Get to the farmers market for good deals and fresh ingredients.
- Keep things simple: season smart and create really good tasting dishes with a few ingredients.
- Remember to do what you can.
Thank you Chef Peter for taking the time to sit down with me to chat and share your wisdom! Thank you for creating a restaurant that really serves people and for changing the culture one small step at a time! I wish you only continued success in the years to come! If you all ever get out to Asheville, NC be sure to stop by Posana Cafe for a wonderful dining experience. Tell the staff that Considering You encouraged you to go! Check out Posana on the web or follow along on Facebook: Website | Facebook