Where Are They Now? Kushi Institute Level 3 Graduate Andrea Beaudoin

Just over a year ago, KI Level 3 Graduate Andrea Beaudoin opened her food truck Hearty Eats. This spring, she added a permanent restaurant in Shelburne Falls, Mass. Now, shes heading back to Kushi for the first ever Local Berkshire Food Fair on Sunday, August 10. We caught up with her to talk about then and now as well as her continuing vision for the future.

How did you discover Macrobiotics?

I was working in Boston when I started having health issues. I was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of HPV, so I was trying to understand my health better. A friend introduced me to macrobiotics, and I launched into my own process of discovery through books. I changed my diet and ate really narrowly for a little while so my body could start detoxing and healing. I also quit smoking. Eight months later, I conceded to having a cold knife cone biopsy, which looks for deeper cancerous development, but there was no evidence of cancer or even a sign that there had ever been a problem. So, I really believed in what I was doing.

When did you decide to start the Level Program at KI?

Basically, I decided that if I was going to live this way, I needed to understand it on a deeper level. I took the first week of Level 1 to get a taste of it while I was still working in the corporate world back in Boston. In January 2013, I left my job and completed the program through Level 3. I was getting an in-depth understanding plus time for healing and changing the direction my life was heading. I didnt come from the food industry, but I knew I would use what I learned from Kushi for the rest of my life, whether I made a career out of it or not.

Why a food truck?

Even before I left my job, I was racking my brain: “What am I going to do? What am I going to do?” I spent a lot of time reflecting on who I am, whats important to me, what the world could benefit from and how to succeed in doing what you love while paying bills – because theres a balance there. I had always wanted accessible healthy food while I was working in the city. So I ended up buying a food truck with no solid plan.

Can you let us in on the name “Hearty Eats”?

Hearty Eats is a joke. The name came while laughing over the health food/fast food/drive thru concept with friends. We imagined the golden arches bending further, turning into a green heart. So “Hearty Eats” comes from that ongoing joke. Also, the food is hearty. A lot of people think health food is salads. I think whats really key about Macrobiotics is the food is hearty. Its not leaving you hungry. Its healing, nourishing food. Heart health is another. I just couldnt get away from the name because of all of the meaning in it.

What was the initial response to a Macro-friendly food truck?

We put clean, digestible, balanced food out into the world without a label. Macrobiotic, vegan, gluten-free – our food is all these things yet its presented in a format regular people relate to. We soak our rice and use kombu. We pick high-quality fresh ingredients. Everything is from scratch. People know it when they taste it and they comment all of the time that its the “best” or the “cleanest” or the “healthiest” food without us telling them. So we dont scream “Gluten-free!” We dont scream “Vegan!” We dont scream “Macrobiotic!” Instead, were saying, “Why cant this just be the norm?” At our first event it was just us and three BBQ trucks, and we had a line all day.

Other than the upcoming Local Berkshire Food Fair at Kushi Institute on August 10th, where can people generally find Hearty Eats?

As for the truck, weve been doing music festivals, the Brimfield Antique Show, Wanderlust VT, etc. Increasingly, were sticking to local events in our area, especially daytime events centering around lunch. We just opened a restaurant in Shelburne Falls, Mass. at 24 Bridge Street.

Whats next for Hearty Eats?

Theres nothing static about our vision. Our plan is to evolve as things make sense. We hadnt planned on a restaurant just a year after the truck. It came together with the good response to our food and the timing of the Shelburne Falls space. Wed like multiple locations. Long term, wed like drive thrus. Healthy fast food is not the solution to the worlds problems, but its a place to start. If youre too idealistic, you cant reach the people. Wed also like to add fish to the menu and get through the winter on exclusively New England produce.

Whats next for you?

Farming is a huge passion of mine. I am extremely energized by time spent in nature and in the garden. My partner, Colin Bargeron, and I live on seven acres, and weve been growing rice. We have two little paddies now, planted from the rice we grew last year with the help of Christian Elwell at South River Miso. As time goes on, wed like to start supplying produce for Hearty Eats. When it comes to all of these personal and professional pursuits, Colin and I have accomplished them together. Before we really got going with the restaurant setup this spring, we took the winter to man a sailboat from Los Angeles to Guatemala.

Looking back, what has guided you through this time of expansion?

My greatest inspiration from macrobiotics is that everything is always seeking balance. The middle is a constantly moving point, so being awake and open and clear enough to realize where that point is and maintain it is an everyday undertaking. Its my intention with each dish.