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Plant City couple brings vegan restaurant to Brandon

Raw Napa cabbage tacos are stuffed with walnut taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, kidney beans, corn and onions.
Raw Napa cabbage tacos are stuffed with walnut taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, kidney beans, corn and onions.
Published Jun. 11, 2015

BRANDON — What would cheesecake be like without cheese? Or how would fettucine alfredo taste without any cream?

According to customers who have tried these items at Taste of Eden Bistro in Brandon, these creations are just as delicious as their dairy-based counterparts, and much healthier, too.

Sherry and Dave Orcutt, who live in Plant City and operate the Hallelujah Acres Lifestyle Center, just opened Taste of Eden a few weeks ago.

The menu is entirely vegan: There is no meat or dairy of any kind. It is the first vegan restaurant to open in Brandon.

But don't expect the options to be limited to salad and tofu. There are plenty of creative options, such as an avocado Reuben sandwich, spaghetti made of zucchini noodles, veggie tacos and Japanese stir fry. For dessert, there are sweet treats, such as apple crisp with maple cream or carob coconut truffles.

"A lot of people that come here eat a regular diet, but they are looking for healthier choices," Sherry Orcutt said. "We're offering healthier versions of the comfort foods that they love so much."

In 2001, the Orcutts discovered that Dave Orcutt was suffering from multiple sclerosis. He had existing arthritis and acid reflux. Sherry Orcutt wasn't in top shape either. She was overweight and suffered from high blood pressure.

Sherry Orcutt prayed for wisdom and an alternative to risky medications and procedures, and soon after, she heard about the Hallelujah Diet, which is completely plant-based and promotes holistic healing by providing nutrients essential for the immune system.

"We decided to give it a try, and within days, we felt better," she said.

After a few months, Dave Orcutt's arthritis and acid reflux were negligible. Sherry Orcutt remembers wrinkles and moles disappearing from her body. And after just a year on the Hallelujah Diet, Dave Orcutt's MS symptoms had vanished. The couple also got their weight back to a healthy level.

They opened Hallelujah Acres Lifestyle Center in Plant City in order to teach others about the benefits of the Hallelujah Diet. But about three years ago, they started itching to expand their reach with a full-service restaurant that would provide dishes based on the diet.

After 10 years of attending vegan potlucks in Brandon and forming relationships with local residents, the Orcutts had built up a network of friends who were focused on health. They decided to look in Brandon for a place to open Taste of Eden.

When the space at 1107 Lithia Pinecrest Road, which was originally built as a residential house, went up for sale, the Orcutts took a look inside.

"I just knew this was it as soon as I walked through the door. It feels like a home," Sherry Orcutt said.

The house's main rooms were transformed into dining rooms, one of which will eventually serve as a classroom where Sherry Orcutt will give presentations on health-related topics. There is also a private dining room for groups to hold meetings or events, and a kitchen and separate food prep room. On the back porch, customers will be able to dine al fresco.

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The restaurant has been open for less than a month, but it already has a following. Some customers have driven two hours just to get a taste of what the Hallelujah Diet has to offer.

"I think vegans, especially, they will travel to go to a good restaurant," she said. "A vegan or vegetarian will come a long way for that food. Brandon needs this, and I think they're ready for it. A lot of our customers have never eaten this food before, and they've said they'll come back."

Amber Jurgensen can be reached at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.