I first had the pleasure of meeting Leith Hill when she was a guest speaker at the Natural Gourmet Institute. This NOLA native is bringing her culinary perspective to the streets of NYC. In 2013 Leith opened Ellary’s Greens, which offers an array of healthy, gourmet organic foods.
In the restaurant, Leith warmly greets every member of her team, from the head chef to the deliveryman. There isn't one person she doesn’t know by name. As guests enter, she waves hello and catches up with regular customers, making sure that every guest is properly tended to.
However, don’t let her sweet southern accent, and bubbly personality fool you. Leith is a busy and driven woman on a mission! Her mission? Serve quality sourced food, dedicated to nourishment.
I sat down with Letih to discuss how she’s accomplishing her mission and bringing foods with maximum health to the masses.
What is the concept behind Ellary’s Greens?
Just like the concept of Made Simple by Sarah, the concept of Ellaray’s Greens is that eating for optimal health can be simple! Everything you eat should be nutrient dense, delicious and again, simple. It’s about eating with integrity and connecting people to their food. Everything we serve here is completely recognizable as a food.
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I'm from New Orleans, which is the land of butter, booze, beignets and béarnaise sauce. But the nice thing about being from New Orleans is because we have Creole and Cajun influences in our food, and we’re surrounded on three sides by water, we have the opportunity to have amazing fish. Many of our dishes are tomato-based and rice-based. Growing up, we always had brown rice and wild rice. I never had anything fried, and it’s something that made a huge difference in how I looked and felt.
Who/what are your inspirations (in food and in life)?
My father was a health foods aficionado, very ahead of his time. He was born in 1923. When he was 12, he lost both of his grandfathers to heart attacks. He vowed that he would never let anyone he loves die of a heart attack. So at the young age of 12 he started looking into the link between diet and exercise, and heart health, which is pretty remarkable. He educated himself and raised us eating nutritionally dense, whole foods.
What is your favorite menu on the item?
I love our salmon burger. We use salmon from North America, sourced from a fully sustainable farm. We filet everything in-house and our salmon burger is simply filled with salmon. There is no binder, no filler - just salmon. All too often, salmon is substituted in a salmon bugger with fillers like rice, breadcrumbs, bread, you name it, to bulk up the burger. Our burger is completely gluten free and starch free. You don't have to compromise on taste and still have nutrient density.
What is the most popular menu on the item?
There are four: the bacon mac and cheese, chickpea fries, roasted chicken, and chocolate mousse. The bacon mac and cheese is made with gluten free pasta and organic cheese. Our chocolate mousse is completely vegan, organic, gluten and dairy free, and raw.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love to make sautéed okra and tomatoes. I also love making eggs- fried eggs, scrambled eggs, frittatas. Ellary’s has amazing house smoked deviled eggs.
Ellary’s highlights all organic ingredients. What is your favorite ingredient right now?
Coconut. We use all parts: milk, water, sugar, flour, and amino acids.
What is a staple in your kitchen at home?
Coconut oil. Whether sweet or savory I cook everything with coconut oil!