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Southwest Florida's natural foods chef finds a way to keep fans fed

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 12:00:10-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chef Brooke Wagenheim knows a thing or two about rebounding when the chips are down.

She opened her cafe, Chef Brooke's Natural Cafe, during the Great Recession.

Before then, Brooke was the head chef at Ada's Natural Food Market. She presided over a dramatic expansion of the store during Southwest Florida's boom time.

When the bubble burst, Brooke and the other Ada's employees found themselves on their own - facing the challenge of finding work during a time when foreclosures and layoffs were happening everywhere.

Where others may have seen a hopeless landscape, Brooke saw opportunity.

She opened her cafe in an easy-to-miss strip mall on Boy Scout Drive between US 41 and Summerlin Road.

It didn't take long for Brooke's former fans at Ada's - and legion of new ones - to discover where she had set up shop.

Her niche of offering natural and organic meals, desserts, smoothies and juices was something Southwest Floridians were clearly ready for.

She has become Southwest Florida's go-to chef for those seeking food that's exactly what they're looking for - from vegetarian and vegan to gluten-free, to marcrobiotic. And the list goes on.

She's now been open more than 10 years.

And these days, she's finding new ways to pull off another rebound.

Now that she's back open after closing for the Safer At Home order, she's offering contactless pick-up delivery and family-style take-out items for those who'd like to make her memorable meals last for more than just a day (or in the case of one her famous Faerie cakes, more than a few minutes.)