Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
More Than Just Salads: Casa de Luz
"I don't like using the word 'macrobiotic' to describe our food", says Eduardo (Wayo) Longoria III, "it sounds too science-y. Macrobiotic actually means 'great life' and that includes food, but it's so much more. It means to live every part of your life consciously."
Wayo, whose new dining room, Casa de Luz, on University Avenue in North Park, is scheduled to open in just three weeks, should know. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nine years ago, and after following conventional medical protocols for four years, decided that it wasn't working for him.
"MS is an autoimmune disease. My body was trying to kill itself. I kept asking, why is my body doing this? My body was telling me something, and I needed to listen to it."
Executive chef Denise Girard and owner Wayo Longoria
Wayo's father, (also Wayo), founded the first Casa de Luz twenty years ago in Austin, Texas, where it has become a local, and highly regarded, favorite. But Wayo III had his own destiny, working at the family's Burger King and Papa John's franchises, opening his own seafood restaurant, and "being young, doing what young men do".
When he began suffering from vertigo, and receive his diagnosis of MS, everything changed. He traveled to Amsterdam, Italy and France, where he studied at Cuisine et Santé in Saint Gaurdens, France. It was there he learned about using food to help heal his body and control his MS symptoms. He still has the disease, of course, but the number of "flares" has dramatically decreased.
So what does Casa de Luz offer, beyond the usual "local, organic"? For starters, it is affiliated with the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine's cooking school. The menu, breakfast, lunch and dinner, changes daily and is all plant-based, vegan, and macrobiotic.
There will be raw menu items when possible. Tables, which hold eight, are communal, though there will be a few smaller ones too. In addition, the upstairs area houses a full demo and teaching kitchen.
Full teaching and demo kitchen
Executive chef Denise Girard, whose prior positions included a stint at the Raw Kitchen in West Palm Beach, is committed to maintaining a "high taste profile. You have to create delicious food if you want it to be sustainable. Otherwise, people will just continue to eat as they did before."
Both Girard and Longoria emphasize that eating healthfully is no quick fix. "Give us a month (of consistent adherence to the lifestyle)" says Wayo, "We'll change your mind and you'll love it."
Casa de Luz is planning to be open for business in three weeks.
2920 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(No phone yet.)
Open daily from 7 am - 8:30 pm.
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