Sapiens Paleo Kitchen, a recently opened restaurant in northern Scottsdale, may specialize in paleo-friendly cuisine, but it’s more than that for owners Aurore de Beauduy-Yasinsky and Roman Yasinsky.
They consider paleo a lifestyle.
“What Paleo taught me is that our objective is not to merely survive like our ancestors, but to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life,” chef Aurore said.
Aurore and Roman began paleo while battling health issues — thyroid deficiencies for Aurore and chronic gastritis and acid reflux disease for Roman.
They sought out not only their origin, but cures with the right nutritional methods and diet.
After almost a year of research, the couple determined that the paleo diet was the answer.
“We began to notice a difference in how we felt two months after we’d been following paleo nutrition principles,” Roman said. “Many symptoms that we had previously began to subside.”
After three months, he said, they stopped taking all prescription medicine and focused instead on improving their dietary habits.
“It’s been almost two years since we’ve started to eat mindfully. Now we can attest that we are both symptom free and say with confidence that paleo diet and lifestyle is worth following,” Roman said.
Since Sapiens opened in February, Aurore and Roman said they have attracted many customers who share their philosophy about mindful eating.
“However, the majority of our customers are people who simply enjoy Aurore’s French cuisine. Many of those customers learned about the health benefit accidentally and appreciated our effort to bring the best ingredients to the table,” Roman said.
At Sapiens, a quaint restaurant that seats a maximum of about 20 guests, chef Aurore uniquely combines the paleo diet with French cuisine.
“Surprisingly, there is more in common between French cuisine and paleo than one may think,” Roman said.
According to Roman, French cuisine is defined by a deep understanding of how ingredients work together, how they complement one another and how they elevate the dish.
“Understanding those principles makes it easy to substitute one ingredient for another to achieve that perfect balance,” he said.
The paleo diet avoids processed foods and focuses on healthy, whole foods.
Paleo-friendly foods include meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies, along with healthy fats and oils.
“Most diets imply short-term events, typically focused on restricting food consumption to achieve a specific goal, like weight control,” Roman said, adding:
“Paleo is not about restricting how much food should be consumed. Paleo is about eliminating food groups that cause problems.”
Aurore is committed to using high-quality, unprocessed, locally sourced ingredients, grass-fed meats and fresh produce.
“We don’t put any chemicals into our food,” she said. “We make our own mayonnaise and we make our (own) ketchup — we make everything in-house.”
The Sapiens Paleo Kitchen menu features a wide array of poultry, from roasted chicken, grass-fed calf liver and filet mignon to leg of duck confit and rabbit.
All meals, which are made from scratch, can also be adjusted to cater to the keto and autoimmune protocol diets.
“Although we haven’t been open long enough to see a measurable progression over time, we’ve been told multiple times that our food feels light and fresh. Most importantly, we’ve been told that our food inspires people to make the necessary changes in their diets to lead them onto the path of healing,” Roman said.
Sapiens also has a paleo bakery, where customers can purchase freshly baked paleo bread, waffle tartines and desserts.
Like all dishes on the Sapiens menu, all baked goods are made with gluten- and grain-free flours derived from tubers and root crops, like cassava, chufa and Peruvian maca.
Sapiens also uses free-range eggs.
What customers won’t find in Sapiens’ baked good are soy, dairy, processed sugar, GMO or trans fat.
“Our bread is significantly more nutritious than any traditional bread. It contains high amounts of resistant starch, high-quality dietary fat, insoluble fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients,” Roman said.
“Nobody knows how to make grain-free bread. I think it makes us so unique,” Aurore added.
Roman said their goal is to expand the bakery.
“We’ve developed many amazing recipes for our grain-free baking products,” he said.
Sapiens also offers catering, which has been “very active,” according to Roman, and accounts for 30 percent of their business.
But it’s Sapiens’ meal prep that Aurore and Roman are particularly excited about.
“The meal prep is a very exciting new direction for us,” Roman said. “We feel that in this world of deceiving marketing and confusing messages, many people find it difficult to maintain healthy nutrition.
“Our meal prep offers people who want to eat well and healthy a perfect solution: freshly prepared food of high-quality from the place they can trust.”
Sapiens will deliver to the East Valley and central Phoenix, and meal prep online ordering should be available sometime this month.
The menu will include à la carte items, as well as seasonal combos with seven paleo and seven vegan choices.
It costs $11 per seasonal combo meal, with the à la carte menu varying in price.
To those interested in transforming their favorite dishes into paleo-friendly meals, Roman has a few tips.
“Use organic, high-quality vegetables, nuts and seeds, grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood, if available. No grains, no sugar, no dairy, no soy or beans, no processed food,” he said.
“Creative substitution is the best way to convert any meal to paleo,” he added.
For example, cream can be replaced with coconut cream, unhealthy soybean oil can be replaced with avocado oil, rice can be replaced with “riced” cauliflower, and sugar can be replaced with monk fruit sweetener or coconut sap.