Text by Alex Schechter
Images courtesy of Les Aperizes and Moon Juice
Illustrations by Lauren Trangmar
When I reach Amanda Chantal Bacon, the 36-year-old founder of Moon Juice, Los Angeles’s most renowned space-age apothecary, she, like the rest of us, is at home. “Can I call you back in 30?” she asks. “I’m just in the middle of putting the baby down for a nap.” Juggling a company with nearly 100 employees, an 8-year-old, and a 10-month-old is no easy feat. But Bacon, a self-professed homebody, seems to take it in stride.
Rustic Canyon, the neighborhood where Bacon has lived for the last six years, is barely on the map. Just north of Santa Monica, tucked under the Pacific Palisades, it’s full of eucalyptus trees and giant redwoods and has drawn vague comparisons to northern California. “I spend a lot of time traveling to Big Sur and Marin, and I had never seen an area like this in the city,” she says. A narrow creek runs between the houses, perfect for toddler-friendly excursions. “You can go down and find tadpoles; it has its own little microclimate.”
Bacon is a born-and-raised New Yorker, though after working in various fine-dining kitchens in Europe and South America—and a brief stint as a food reporter for the Los Angeles Times—she opened the first Moon Juice shop in Venice on Rose Avenue in 2011. Back then, she says, “Wellness was not cool.” But Venice’s knack for adopting New Age trends made it the perfect testing ground for the novel juice bar she had in mind. “If [Moon Juice] was going to work anywhere, it would be Venice,” she reasoned.
With her silky tresses and earthy glow, Bacon exudes a serene glamor that feels at home in L.A. Yet much of her culinary growth has taken place outside the city. During frequent food-focused excursions abroad, she has spent countless hours wandering through farmers markets, studying the use of whole fruits, fresh herbs, and other local remedies.
On a two-week trip to Indonesia in 2018, her diet consisted almost entirely of fruit. “My favorite was durian,” she quips of the spiky, sharp-smelling fruit, which required plastic gloves to handle. Outside the temples, she frequented the fruit stands, whose vendors cut up heaping portions of dragon fruit and mangosteen to eat fresh on the curb. “I rarely eat in restaurants when I travel,” she explains.
Back home, Angelenos have embraced Bacon’s international buffet of holistic remedies. Plant-based cuisine has become its own micro tourist attraction. Items like Moon Juice’s Blue Matcha Pearl latte and Silver Strawberry (a strawberry-infused almond milk containing colloidal silver) fly off the shelves; in 2017, a K-pop star posted the latter on Instagram, and international foot traffic to the shop nearly doubled. “I get it,” she says. “It’s pink. It’s beautiful. It turns out the whole world loves strawberry.”
Rarely glimpsed in her three shops, Bacon works quietly behind the scenes while playing the part of lifestyle guru for the collagen-thirsty masses. In her Rustic Canyon home, the cupboards are stocked with Moon Juice Magnesi-Om supplements and SuperYou adaptogenic capsules. Yet, for a woman who champions obscure ingredients like schisandra berry and reishi mushroom, and exotic remedies like Moon Juice’s Sex Dust, Bacon’s connection to wellness is surprisingly straightforward. Inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s wholesome açai bowls and the fields of turmeric and ginger she witnessed growing in Indonesia, her at-home regimen consists of seasonal produce, fresh herbs and spices, and not much else.
“India and Italy both have a culture of using fresh herbs in food,” she says. “It’s very much steeped in the culture. At the same time, it’s medicinal.” Spending time in such places has informed Bacon’s approach to health—namely, that enjoyable food and nutrition don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “It’s always good to tune into simple remedies,” she says.
A few of Amanda’s West Side favorites:
Owned by a French family, where everything is organic. “They have a gluten-free croissant that’s amazing. The location was designed by Commune, and it’s just a really pretty place. Also check out their chestnut-flour bread.”
A grain-free bakery in Pacific Palisades. “They have really great cakes, where everything is made with almond flour and cassava flour. It’s beyond gluten free—it’s grain free and vegan and sugar free.”
A deli, bakery, café, and market with a mission to source locally. “It’s not the Moon Juice version of health, but it’s another way to experience California produce. Get one of the salads or the fresh-baked rye bread. If you’re avoiding gluten, that’s a really great option.”