RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- This report is revealing a few of the secrets behind some of your favorite dishes at Great Full Gardens, but the existence of this local restaurant chain is only possible because of one man in Reno and the sickness he says he endured roughly ten years ago.
Inflammation of the intestines and ulcers hospitalized Gino Scala in 2006 when he was only in his early 40s.
"I was dumbfounded because I didn't eat meats. I really had done well as far as sports and athletics and diet, but the doctors were telling me I would have to be on medications the rest of my life to control those symptoms," he said.
"At that point I shifted my eating habits, went radical in the beginning so I did live green foods."
Within six months he says he was healed. Gino says his doctor was amazed. "He said I don't know exactly how it happened, but keep doing what you're doing, and that got us looking more deeply at foods."
Gino says this sickness led him to create Great Full Gardens.
"My wife and I chatted and we said you know we want to do something to make a difference and let's birth Great Full Gardens and give people the opportunity to have the kind of food that healed me," said Gino.
Today he and his wife own and operate four Great Full Gardens restaurants.
We're taking you behind-the-scenes to "The Kitchen by Great Full Gardens at 5220 Longley Lane Suite 100 in Reno where many of the foods are prepared for each of the locations.
Lets start with dessert and no ordinary cheesecake. It's actually made of raw healthy ingredients. Pastry chef Kristen Miner often makes a raw Mint Chocolate cheesecake. It's paleo, gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, and organic.
The crust is made of cashews, cacao, water, and agava. The mint layer is colored with spinach to keep all the ingredients natural.
Kristen layers the mint and then cacao over and over and over again. A simple toothpick design on top is followed by cacao chips on top and then it goes into a freezer to set up. The Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake is the most popular flavor.
"To be able to have a dessert like that-- that's decadent and everything she's making is off the chart," Gino said.
Next up is Juli's Famous Apple Chai Cookie. It gets its name from the chai tea powder in the dough and the apple pie filling baked into each cookie. The dough is made from oats, flour, and sugar, among other ingredients.
It's rolled out and pressed. Apples are added and a rounded cap of cookie dough is placed on top before they're baked.
"When it's baked you basically have a baked apple pie in the center and I like to eat it. Like I take a little piece of the flower each time and then I save the center," said Gino.
You can buy it a la mode with a scoop of ice cream and delicious topping.
Across the kitchen another group of workers is preparing kale for the four local restaurants.
They're removing the stems, washing the leaves, cutting them into small pieces and then placing them in a large spinner to remove the water. Each week, 450 pounds is processed for the locally-owned and operated restaurant chain.
A third place in the kitchen is where 18 Great Full Garden soups are made. "It smells nice, doesn't it?" Gino said while using a large whisk to stir a large vat. "This is the totally tomato. It's made with organic tomatoes and carrots, onions, celery, herbs de provence and you can smell (is) the oregano and basil."
A little earth balance butter is added to soften the soup.
"This soup is served every day everywhere and it's the number one seller in our quarts as well," he said.
Gino and his employees make the soup's base from whole foods because he believes they're important. He held a cup of sauteed vegetables as he said, "This is carrots, onions, celery. We chop them up. We add water, herbs de provence and a little sherry wine."
This is cooked down in a big skillet until it's condensed and full of flavor. Healthy nutrients for you to enjoy.
Another popular product is the Aztec Soup. "These are the green chilis, and then we have our wild rice and our organic tomatoes and this is actually a product called soyrizo. It's one of the flavoring systems in the Aztec Soup."
The impossible burger is another favorite on Great Full Garden's menu. It's made entirely from plant-based foods.
"I'm not vegan and I love the impossible burger," said Great Full Gardens employee Sandra Villa.
The burger's patty is made of soy, the cheese is Daiya (a plant based cheese substitute), and the toppings are all there.
Gino is in negotiations to open a restaurant at The Outlets at Legends. He is hopeful it could open by October. He says he would also like to open restaurants in Carson City, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and Northwest Reno.
555 So Virginia #107
Reno, NV 89501
748 South Meadows Parkway Ste A-14
Reno, NV 89521
1664 N Virginia St,,
Reno, NV 89557
5220 Longley Lane, Ste 100
Reno, NV 89511