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The New New Age: An Interview With Amanda Chantal Bacon Of Moon Juice

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A woman walks into Silver Lake’s Moon Juice. She very carefully pushes open the glass door to the space, a tissue coming in between her hand and the handle. She sneezes and says hello to chef and shop owner Amanda Chantal Bacon in a nasally congested chirp. Amanda greets her with a smile, saying hi and waving to her. “I have a cold,” the woman says. Amanda turns away from the low storefront table she sits at and points to a clear cold case of colorful juices: “The Strawberry Silver is good for a cold.” The woman nods, thanks her, and speeds to the counter for this natural medicine.

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This is a common situation in Moon Juice. Amanda crafted her Venice and newly opened Silver Lake culinary concepts to be a mixture of natural based soul nourishments and refined, fresh pressed juices. She finds it to be her duty to point people toward things she makes that will help them feel good inside and out. She finds that this approach to food and drink making is a result of California food culture and the lifestyle of the West.

“I learn a lot from the mad and crazy food scientists who are behind the cool stuff,” she says, pointing to neatly rowed merchandise in the store. “These are people you find hidden under rocks, only found at twinkling sunsets if you have your purple goggles on.”

She laughs. “They have been so influential. You don’t find these people outside of Los Angeles. There are a few in New York but they aren’t literally living on the side of a mountain or living in a van in a forest, coming out to talk about the new mono-atomic folds. This is why I live in California.”

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“Equally so, the California food movement has been influential. As passé as it is at this point—because no one wants to hear about goat cheese and beet candied walnuts and salad—it’s still real and important. I have to check myself when I start with these jokes about salad. It’s like Hemingway: everyone has read him and knows about it but he was part of a movement and he was really great. That is equally an influence on me. It’s as Californian and as it is uniquely LA.”

The irony in this is that Amanda is a New Yorker, one who has been transformed by California and similar cultures so much so that the East coaster has been stripped away. She’s found her way out West by way of experimenting in different cultures around the world. “I’m a New Yorker, originally,” she says. “I didn’t go to school, proper, but I did have some spotty education here and there.”

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“I took a one way ticket to Italy during the time of the lira. There was fun to be had and many adventures to play out. I went there thinking I would go into some sort of fine art but I ran with food and it hasn’t stopped. That made sense though as I remember looking back to when I was four and that I was most interested in the restaurants scene.”

Her growing up in Chelsea and witnessing places like Laurent become as successful as it was had an impact on her. She matured into a food person, someone obsessed with the art of food making and the art of entertaining. “I turned into an ingredient nerd, which I feel is so normal now,” she says. “It wasn’t so normal back then though. There was no farm to table or slow foods: those were not household jargon. That sent me on my path.”

She lived in Italy for over a year and then began to bounce around quite a bit, hopping from place to place to place. “I had my rolling stone moment. I was in Italy and then New Zealand and I tried teaching young children. I went back to New York and worked for a while and ended up spending a few years traveling through Central America, living between Buenos Aires and a beach in Uruguay called Ignacio for a few years.”

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“I actually learned a lot about food and ingredients and simplicity there,” she says. “There’s a very strong Italian influence and a very strong Spanish influence and, at the same time, it’s very Argentine and Uruguayan. That’s where I learned the beauty of something as basic as a grilled carrot: it’s about that simplicity of one thing. It was about the soil that the carrot was grown in and the wood you started the fire with and how you stoked the coals and what olive oil you were using and even what shape the salt is that you were using.”

“I wound up leaving and going to culinary school in Vermont,” Amanda says, noting that she went on to attend New England Culinary Institute. “I chose a school that had a food politics, food theory, and food history focus to it. I didn’t just want to learn how to cook an onion. The school is also tiny and all the professors are food activists or have come from great restaurants. I spent my time working at bakeries and dairies there. There’s such a great thing happening in Vermont! Before New York and LA hopped on the bandwagon, the culture was there.”

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She details the lifestyle of living in Vermont, one that you can see still present in her current work. “I spent a Winter eating food that only came from a ten to twenty mile radius. It was very interesting. There were a lot of duck eggs and root vegetables and bread and Green Mountain coffee and goat milk. It was an experience!”

“After that, I really wanted to got to California because that’s where the fruits and vegetables were,” she continues. “I was probably the only person who did that at the time!”

She arrived in Los Angeles seven years ago hoping to tackle the food scene headfirst. She ended up connecting with one of the best chefs in town, one who has a similar mind when it comes to food. “Suzanne Goin was my mentor and she was very kind to take me on and let me into the kitchen. I learned so much directly from her. She’s a genius. It was truly a mentor experience.”

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“She’s amazing, through and through. As someone who was all up in her grill for a couple of years, she’s still one of my favorite and most inspiring people. I’m forever grateful to her.”

Amanda eventually departed from working with Suzanne at Lucques and went on to work privately and in catering. She ended up working an assortment of jobs like being the food and wine editor of the LA Time’s now defunct LA Times Magazine and originating Forage’s initial menu. She wanted to get back to making food for herself and doing her own thing, though.

“I needed to get back into the kitchen and get my hands dirty,” she says. “After Forage, I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to do here. I throw myself full on at things so I took a moment to figure out what my dream come true would be…and here we are!”

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Moon Juice is the result of Amanda dreaming and imaging a concept reflective of her taste and style. It was also a response to her experience of Los Angeles, one that was particularly stunted when creating the concept and born of her constant moving around the city. “I was living in Laurel Canyon for a while and I was in Echo Park for a while and I was on a hill in Hyperion for a while and in Mount Washington for a while: they were all great! But I had this overwhelming feeling that I was in the ‘burbs and I was going crazy. This was during the conception of Moon Juice, which meant a lot of working from home. I’m very physical and very hands on: I like to be around people all day long. I’m a New Yorker in LA—or maybe it’s my personality or working hospitality. I need that beat and I need to be around people: I need the energy of people.”

Being tied to your car was challenging and seeing the same chorus of people at the Sunset Junction Intelligentsia was a challenge too. She needed a change—and West Los Angeles provided that. “I love slipping into all these different pockets of LA and letting them take me in, to learn things like which succulents grow best in which neighborhoods and who are the craft artists of the neighborhood. What is the coffee shop you go to? Who are the eight hipsters you will see everywhere? Those are things I want to find out. I also needed to walk and bike. And, for opening this esoteric, organic, premium, green juice temple, the Westside would be the place to do it.”

“I wasn’t quite sure it was going to work out!” she says with a giggle, gesturing to the space that has materialized as a result. “Who would want to drink organic green juice with me? Turns out there was a movement.”

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Now at the height of juice and health culture in Los Angeles, it’s time to push the concept even further. What else is there to this lifestyle and how can it become something more? Like learning that certain juices can cure a cold, Amanda wants to empower those who are fans of her work. “One of the things I’m definitely interested in is education,” she says. “That’s one of the major intentions behind the project. As there is a movement and our planet needs us to be drawn toward nuts and seeds and vegetables. I see Moon Juice as how we can bring education and information to people in a fun, sexy, easy, non-dogmatic way. With juice that has a 72 hour life (Well, a 24 hour life.), I’m working on making things so that they can be delivered elsewhere.”

This logic pertains to teaming up with potential hoteliers to figuring out how to bring it fans in Japan to starting a digital forum for get juice people talking. To start, she’s getting everything down, forming it into something that people will want to share and use and learn from. “I’m actually working on a book. I just stared that! It will have recipes and education and, again, it will great to bring a book to the health world that is fun and inspiring and delicious looking. That won’t be free but it is education.”

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If Amanda could, she would go up to every person willing to get involved with the brand and give them personal instruction. Like providing simple healing, holistic remedies through juice, she wants to provide those interested with the means to live the Moon Juice lifestyle in their own way.

“I feel like, if I could, I would hand each person a book and a nut milk bag and four jars,” she says with a lofty smile. “Go forth and prosper from there!”

For more on Amanda and Moon Juice, be sure to check out their website, Like them on Facebook, and follow them on Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter. Moon Juice is located at 2839 W Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake and 507 Rose Avenue in Venice. You can learn about their cleanses here and their packages here.

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