Body Fuel Bistro fuels healthy eating in Port Hueneme
Angie and Hailey Wiggins are the mother-daughter team behind Body Fuel Bistro, a healthy-eating restaurant in Port Hueneme.
When the healthy fast-food restaurant you own with a family member is celebrating its first anniversary, do you serve birthday cake?
It’s a distinct possibility, said Angie Wiggins and Hailey Wiggins, the mother-daughter team behind Body Fuel Bistro in the Mandalay Village Marketplace across from Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme.
“We’re not about deprivation when it comes to food. We’re about balance,” said Angie, a former personal trainer who makes many of the restaurant’s cheat day-worthy desserts.
They unveiled its menu of salads, sandwiches, soft tacos, turkey chili, lettuce cups and signature Dream Bars last fall. On Sept. 22, first-anniversary observations at the restaurant will include a buy-one-get-one-free offer on entrees from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors from noon to 3 p.m. will also be able to spin a prize wheel for discounts and freebies.
More: Food-truck fire can’t keep local chef Tim Kilcoyne from cooking from Scratch
“It will be a big ‘thank you’ to our customers who have been with us from the start, and to those who are coming in for the first time,” Hailey said.
The event will also highlight a few updates. Since opening the restaurant’s doors, the duo has added a children’s menu and vegan dishes, with alternative preparations of dressings and sauces. They also offer catering and delivery services, the latter through 805 to Go.
The first-time restaurateurs say the past year has taken them through a steep learning curve. One “hindsight is 20/20” realization: The bistro’s name may have given some customers the incorrect first impression that it’s a supplement and/or meal-replacement-shakes kind of place.
A quick look at the menu — and its dishes named for family members — reveals otherwise. Angie’s father, Wolfgang Grunewald, is the inspiration for the Wolfie Chicken Sandwich, made with garlic grilled chicken and mustard aioli on grilled whole grain bread ($9.99), while daughter Lauren Reardon gets a shout-out by way of Lauren’s Bright and Bold Chicken Curry, a gluten-free dish that can be made vegan ($10.99).
Hailey Wiggins arranges oatmeal-mango spice and chocolate chip-toffee cookies at Body Fuel Bistro, the Port Hueneme restaurant she operates with her mother, Angie Wiggins. The healthy fast-food restaurant will mark its first anniversary on Sept. 22, then participate in The Star’s Nov. 10 Wine & Food Experience featuring celebrity chef Graham Elliot. (Photo: JUAN CARLO/THE STAR, )
But the women aren’t completely new to restaurants, either.
Angie worked as a waitress before she embarked on a career that has included running fitness boot camps and, along with Hailey, catering for health-minded clients who wanted help with their diets.
“We have a saying: The body is created in the gym and revealed in the kitchen,” Angie said. “You can work out and exercise, but if you’re not eating properly, you won’t see the fruits of your labor.”
Hailey was still a student at Oxnard High School when a neighbor took note of her interest in cooking and helped her land a job with James Sly, the veteran chef and owner of Sly’s, a steak-and-seafood spot in Carpinteria.
Thai chicken salad topped with corn, carrots, cabbage and tangy dressing is on the menu at Body Fuel Bistro, the Port Hueneme restaurant operated by the mother-daughter team of Angie Wiggins and Hailey Wiggins. Many of the other dishes on the menu are named for family members. (Photo: JUAN CARLO/THE STAR, )
“He took me under his wing. He was the one who inspired me to go on and learn as much as I could by working at different restaurants,” Hailey said of Sly, who with wife Annie Sly plans to retire after Sept. 23, the final day of service for their namesake restaurant at Seventh Street and Linden Avenue.
On Sly’s advice, Hailey decided to skip the expense of attending a school like the Culinary Institute of America in favor of learning from her time as a hostess, a server and in various management positions at restaurants like Lure Fish House in Camarillo and Quincy Street, in Oxnard’s Silver Strand Beach neighborhood.
Like her mother, Hailey led boot camp-style fitness classes and worked as a trainer at local gyms. She also participated in the bikini fitness competition circuit. “That’s where I went, ‘Oh, wow. So that’s what protein does for you.’ It was a first-hand experience with balanced nutrition,” Hailey said.
And it helped inspire the concept behind Body Fuel Bistro, for which the women spent nearly two years recalibrating their personal recipes to work on the public scale. With a year under their belts, they and the restaurant are taking part in a growing number of off-site events, including The Star‘s Wine & Food Experience on Nov. 10 at the Camarillo Airport hangar.
Body Fuel Bistro is located between a nail salon and Peebee and Jay’s at the Mandalay Village Marketplace in Port Hueneme. (Photo: PHOTO BY LISA MCKINNON/ THE STAR)
It will feature a cooking demonstration by celebrity chef Graham Elliot, appearances by cookbook author Jessica Gavin and Olympic-champion snowboarder Hannah Teter, plus samples from dozens of restaurants, caterers, breweries, wineries and more. (For tickets, $50-$160, click on https://wineandfood.vcstar.com).
More: Here’s how to see celebrity chef Graham Elliot in Camarillo
Hailey already has the menu planned for Body Fuel Bistro’s booth at the event: Roast beef sandwiches made with smoky aioli and caramelized onions, Thai chicken salad tossed with kale and carrots, and, for dessert, the restaurant’s famous Dream Bars.
“They start with a graham cracker crust, with layers of chocolate chips, toffee chips, coconut and pecans,” she said. “It all kind of caramelizes together, and … wow.”
In other words, who needs cake?
Body Fuel Bistro is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays (599 W. Channel Islands Blvd., 805-228-1554, http://bodyfuelbistro.com).
OPEN, SHUT AND IN BETWEEN
In Ojai, the previously reported Sept. 15 closing of Knead Baking Co. at 469 E. Ojai Ave. will pave the way for Picnique, a combination wine bar, bakery and rotisserie owned by Ojai-based chef Claud Mann and veteran restaurateur Larry Nicola. (Subscribers to the free, weekly VCS Eats newsletter can read more about the project in the Sept. 13 edition. To sign up for future issues, visit http://bit.ly/VCS_Eats and type in your email address.)
The long-awaited return of Hip Vegan Cuisine took another step toward reality with the posting of a “public notice of application to sell alcoholic beverages” at the restaurant’s still-under-construction home at 201 N. Montgomery St. in downtown Ojai. As of last weekend, brown paper still covered the windows while stacks of flagstone sat waiting in the corner-lot front yard at Montgomery and Matilija streets. A reopening date has not been announced (http://www.hipvegancafe.com).
From the archives: Hip Vegan Cafe is on the move in Ojai (2017)
In Oxnard, the Dutch-pancake restaurant Pancake closed last weekend, after about 10 months of serving sweet and savory pannekoek inside The Annex, the public market-style complex at 550 Collection Blvd. at The Collection at RiverPark. The closure comes three months after the restaurant’s chef and owner, Sandra Cordero, shuttered Gasolina Tapas at an adjoining space.
From the archives: Chef Sandra Cordero explores dual ancestry at 2 restaurants under 1 roof in Oxnard
Meanwhile, Cordero’s original Gasolina Cafe remains open for breakfast, lunch and the occasional paella dinner in Woodland Hills (https://www.gasolinacafe.com).
In Thousand Oaks, the previously reported-on MythPoint Bistro is tentatively scheduled to open in “two to three weeks,” according to workers seen wrestling with a deli-style display case outside the future North Ranch Mall restaurant this week. A peek through the front door revealed a dining room decorated with blue wainscoting, white tables and chairs, and a rustic “happiness is homemade” sign hanging over the order counter. The new restaurant will serve crepes, wraps, Greek and Turkish mezze and European-bakery items (3825 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Unit E, http://mythpoint.com).
Ventura will welcome the second Ventura County location of Firehouse Subs, according to a “coming soon” sign at what closed about nine months ago as Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch at 4020 E. Main St., Suite E10, in the Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping center.
Founded by brothers who are former firefighters, the Florida-based chain made its local debut in Simi Valley in 2014. The Ventura location has a tentative opening date of “between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” according to a spokesperson for the chain (https://www.firehousesubs.com).
Elsewhere in Ventura, the Coco’s Bakery & Restaurant that closed in April 2015 at 4095 Telegraph Road is slated to reopen as Denny’s, according to a city staff report posted in advance of an Aug. 15 meeting of the Design Review Committee. Preliminary plans call for removing a 300-square-foot sunroom from the front of the building.
Las Delicias Classic Mexican Taqueria is closed after about 5½ years of business at 2611 E. Thompson Blvd. in the Thompson Square shopping center. A July 17 photo posted to Yelp by a would-be diner shows a pair of “We have closed / hemos cerrado” signs taped to the front doors. The English version of the sign reads, in part, “Due to problems out of our reach, we have decided to close. … We hope this is not a ‘goodbye’ but a ‘see you soon.’ We plan on opening a new Las Delicias in the future.”
The signs have since been replaced by a bright green building permit notification card issued by the City of Ventura Building & Safety. It indicates that work is being done on the premises by a roofing contractor.
Published in The Star‘s Business section, the Sept. 8 Open and Shut column contained information about the soft openings of Da Hickory House BBQ in Oxnard and The Draft at Mupu Grill in Santa Paula, the closures of Little Thai Fine Dining in Camarillo, Akash Cuisine of India in Thousand Oaks and Rookees Sports Bar in Ventura, and more. To read it, click on https://bit.ly/2M78jGd.
After joining the Ojai Valley Inn‘s culinary team in time for the official August 2015 unveiling of its fine-dining, Italy-meets-California restaurant Olivella, Italian-born chef de cuisineAndrea Rodella is moving on — to Dallas, Texas.
Andrea Rodella is leaving his chef de cuisine post at the Ojai Valley Inn for a new job in Dallas, Texas. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/AMY K. FELLOWS)
Rodella will be the executive chef at Park House, a private social club that is scheduled to open in early December in Dallas’ Highland Park Village neighborhood. The club’s website describes it as a “home for creative and entrepreneurial patrons who come together to meet, exchange ideas, dine, dance and participate in one-of-a-kind events. …”
The cuisine will be inspired by Northern Italy with a coastal French flair, Rodella told me in a Facebook message.
Rodella’s time in Ojai coincided with Olivella receiving a four-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide and multiple AAA Four Diamond ratings from the Automobile Club of Southern California. The search is on for a new chef de cuisine for the resort, where the culinary team continues to work under executive chef Truman Jones (https://www.ojaivalleyinn.com).
Phyllis Vaccarelli, who as the long-time owner of Let’s Get Cookin’ / Westlake Culinary Institute in Westlake Village presented classes and book-tour appearances by Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Anthony Bourdain and other luminaries, died Sept. 7, a day after suffering a stroke. Plans for services had not been announced before the deadline for this column.
Andrew Pedroza, a graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena who worked in Napa before heading to Ventura County and becoming a familiar face at several Camarillo restaurants, died Sept. 9, two days after being admitted to a Ventura hospital.
After a stint at Sheila’s Wine Bar, Pedroza was named executive chef for Bella Victorian Vineyard Tasting Room & Bistro at 2135 Ventura Blvd. in Old Town Camarillo. (His wild boar stew earned the now-shuttered Bella Victorian the Judge’s Choice Award at the 2013 Local Food & Wine Challenge presented by the Ventura County Wine Trail.)
Chef Andrew Pedroza, who worked at the former 805 Pour House and other restaurants in Camarillo, died Sept. 9. A fundraiser to help his family cover funeral costs will take place Sept. 17 at BLVD BRGR. (Photo: LISA MCKINNON/THE STAR)
Able to make everything from sashimi to chocolate truffles in the restaurant’s tiny, behind-the-counter kitchen space, Pedroza stayed on as the business changed hands and became Bella on the Blvd. and then 805 Pour House. The address is now occupied by the craft-brew taproom for BLVD BRGR, which from 2-6 p.m. Sept. 17 will host a fundraiser to help Pedroza’s family with funeral expenses. All proceeds from food and soft drinks, plus tips, will go to the cause (2145 Ventura Blvd., http://blvdbrgr.com).
Lisa McKinnon is a staff writer for The Star. To contact her, send email to email@example.com. To have the VCS Eats newsletter delivered directly to your inbox, visit http://bit.ly/VCS_Eats and type in your email address.
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