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Interview: Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice

A culinary approach to the juice phenomenon takes Venice, California by storm

by Julie Wolfson in Food + Drink on 14 May 2013

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Amanda Chantal Bacon’s little juice bar on Rose Avenue in Venice, California has turned into a thriving mecca for raw food. This summer will see Moon Juice expanding, with an opening in Silver Lake, and Bacon is feeling inspired. In addition to juice, her menu will soon include more yogurt, cheese and puddings that will both appeal to raw food devotees as well as anyone just looking for a healthy, tasty snack.

The original Moon Juice menu offers up several cold-pressed options including Burdock Daikon Citrine and Fennel Frond and Herb. The Cucumber Pineapple Jalapeño juice tastes like a perfect spicy cocktail, but with no spirits—just clean fresh flavors that work as an anti-inflammatory and help boost metabolism. And the Moon Milk defies gravity with a light fresh taste made from sprouted raw organic California almonds, available as milk or in one of several shakes.

Bacon, who has cooked alongside Chef Suzanne Goin at Lucques, approaches all of her offerings from a culinary angle. While sipping a shake, Bacon shared her journey to launching and expanding Moon Juice.

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How do you feel that your time in the kitchen with Chef Goin and others influences what you are doing here at Moon Juice?

Suzanne Goin was my main mentor, but I have also spent time working with the Chez Panisse and Outstanding in the Field people. I specifically came to California to work with 'that camp' and my inspiration even before that was living in Italy and Uruguay—places where they put three ingredients on a plate. There, it’s all about getting the perfect carrot, grilling it, seasoning it and drizzling it with olive oil to make a plate of carrots be the most delicious thing you could have.

When did you originally plan to open Moon Juice? What was the process for readying the company?

I worked with Suzanne. I worked with the LA Times and I was the assistant food and wine editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine and a food journalist for a while. That was a great experience; getting to explore ingredients that I am so passionate about, but I really missed food. I missed the high-paced environment. I missed managing 35 things at once and being on my feet. So I helped develop another restaurant project in Silver Lake. Then I wanted to do something different that was true to myself that would sustain me for a long time.

How did you plan the Moon Juice menu?

When I decided to open Moon Juice, I thought it was going to be a little juice shop here on Rose and it would be a small thing. Now it has really blown up and turned into this huge thing. I planned the menu the same way I would plan any other menu: looking at what is going to be organically available and abundant. Everything we serve 100% organic. I look at it the way I would make a salad, having that same kind of culinary eye for it and feel.

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Where did the name Moon Juice come from?

I love the moon. I am so driven by the moon. I get into the science of the moon. The fact that we are on this planet that is more that 80% water and that our bodies are more than 80% water and the moon's gravity is pulling the water—I think that is so part of our daily life. I was up in San Francisco and it was one of those things where you are just relaxing not thinking about it. A truck came down from the beach and drove under the fog and had a beautiful mural—this oil painting on the side of some crazy hippie bus with the moon in the night sky.

How was the design and logo developed?

I found an amazing artist named Joel Speasmaker in Brooklyn. The inspiration was a moon-rock. I really wanted to look like it was almost a potato-stamp. One of the inspirations behind the logo itself was Sister Corita. I love her work; not too lofty. Not too wordy. Not too out there. Just the facts.

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Your Silver Lake location is opening this summer. What does expanding mean for you and the company?

I am excited that we are also opening our kitchen workshop. We make a raw, cultured yogurt made from coconuts—they are actually live with probiotics; it’s delicious. We have more puddings coming in. I want to do a whole line of actual live-cultured cheeses using things like pili nuts and hazelnuts with nut milks. I come from fine dining, I love cheese. But this is also an options for somebody who is just not wanting to have a whole bunch of dairy. We have granolas coming out, cookies, crackers and fig newtons.

Is everything raw?

Everything here is our version of raw foods. Things that are very toned down palate-wise, more like a fig newton that is sweetened with Turkish figs and maybe a little bit of apple juice. The intention with Moon Juice is to not to take your spaghetti, wine, steak and cheesecake away from you, but it is to support you in it. You know you can come somewhere like this and have salvation and feel good and get back on track so that by Friday you can go out and eat again. Other people eat raw all the time, some people eat like this once in a blue moon. What I am finding is a lot of people are the same customer here as I had a fine dining restaurant. It’s the same person. I just catch them in the morning or the afternoon. We get so many people that keep coming back to us.

Visit Moon Juice at 507 Rose Avenue, Venice, California. Images courtesy of Moon Juice.

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