About Me 32

Why “Urban Paleo Chef”?

Cut LimeI absolutely love to cook. I love everything about it: I love selecting the produce which will become my food, I smile while unpacking it after a successful shopping trip, I delight in selecting the ingredients for the next meal, I am soothed by the prep work of chopping and slicing, and finally I am excited to see the response my food brings. The art of food is one of my most rewarding past times.

UPC-1LacingVibramsI am neither a professional, nor professionally trained. I became a chef the old fashioned way: my mother taught me. To be fair, my father taught me too, but it was mostly my mother who instilled the values of the kitchen in me, and I carry those same values throughout my life.

In addition to cooking, I spend my time running, maintaining my plants, and doing the best that I can to maximize the minimal living space that a NYC area Urban Life offers. I like spending time out on the town, sipping a nice glass of red wine, and tasting the latest or newest food. I spend time with friends and family at every opportunity. But, this site is about food, so let’s get back to that.

Prep Work: Before, or during?

BaconYamMashGingerOk, you caught me… I’m a prep-while-you-cook kind of guy! I like the hectic busy-ness that only comes from frantically trying to keep up with boiling pots, dinging ovens, sizzling pans, and chopping, dicing and slicing all at the same time. From time to time I get burned, and occasionally, that can be taken literally! But most of the time the scramble to finish each task as or before it’s due works out, and I love the challenge it presents!

Kitchen knives: Self-sharpened, or professionally sharpened?Sharpening

Ahh, knives are often the easiest way to differentiate between how you should refer to someone. If they have their knives professionally sharpened (or not at all) then it’s ok to call them a cook. If they sharpen their knives themselves, then you had best call them a chef… -Notice the pause for dramatic effect? As for me: I do them myself. I have 3 sharpening stones (and yes, you can call me a geek just for knowing about this stuff – a Chef Geek!):

  • A 600 grit diamond stone for when I’ve been terribly busy at work and have neglected upkeep. This stone is for fast cutting and heavy shaping, and should be used very sparingly on high quality knives!
  • An 800+ grit diamond stone for normal shaping and sharpening. This is for when I’ve been a little remiss in my maintenance, and let a blade go for a week longer than it should have, or if there is a part of the blade that has been used more than the rest and needs a little extra attention.
  • And finally my pride and joy: a 1200 grit Novaculite finishing stone. This is a beautiful stone, and the edge it allows me to put on my blades is very nice! I use this for my normal maintenance of my knives, every few days, and as a finishing stone to smooth the blade after using my 800 grit diamond stone.

For more on knife maintenance and tools, see here for a complete understanding on my tools, what kinds of knives and blades I choose, who I look at for knife advice and sharpening tips, and how I sharpen my knives.

Is there any part of cooking that you don’t like?

StewedShankSteak2Actually, yes. The unfortunate reality of most people’s lives is that they have to buy things when they’re on sale, and store them frozen until they’re ready to be used. I really dislike thawing my food. Not that I let me distaste for thawing food keep me from being practical; I still buy food when it’s on sale, and freeze it until it’s time to use it. But I just don’t like leaving my food out for hours to make sure it’s ready for cooking!

But I don’t have time to cook a gourmet meal!

I’m so sorry to hear that!! See, if I thought that there was anything standing in between me and the food that I want to eat, well… You did read that I sharpen my own knives, right? On a more serious note: I work a full time job, just like most other people here in the NYC area, or most people I know. And my full-time job doesn’t leave me the countless hours in the kitchen that I would like. The truth is that a gourmet meal takes planning, training, and knowledge. But most of these meals don’t need to take hours of prep and cook time. And the few that do (among my favorites: crock-pot meals!!!) can often be done in a way that they cook while you’re at work, and are ready for you when you get home!

Choc_Power_Bar Why Paleo:

Above is a link to a separate page, where I discuss and share a select few of my personal thoughts on the health media and public health policy, as well as how I came to the Paleo diet, and why it makes sense to me.

About Paleo: What do you miss the most?

This has got to be the most frequently asked question about Paleo! I’ll be honest, it’s been 2 years now and I don’t regret my decision to give up grains or beans in the least. But there are some things that I miss, just a little bit. And first on that list: Bread. It’s not that I liked eating bread, nor the flavor… No, the thing I miss the most is the practicality of it. Making a sandwich is just a totally different proposition without bread. But, yeah, I miss the practicality of bread the most.

Paleo bread: What are your thoughts?

You’re looking to trap me in a corner here, aren’t you?! Alright, I’ll answer it. But don’t go complaining about this – you asked! I think that the “Paleo Bread” and similar Neolithic Paleo products out there are a great tool to assist people who are having a really difficult time converting from a SAD diet to a Paleo diet. And in line with that, like any “conversion tool,” I think that people should stop using “Paleo Bread” as a crutch once their bodies have gotten used to the new diet, and they have started to feel the benefits of grain-free living!

CoconutChocolateLychee-FinishingTouchesIs Paleo for everyone?

Ahh, the question for the ages! The media-doctors out there are raging against the Paleo movement with the honest fear of someone who sees their job vanishing underneath their feet! The talking heads are doing their dead-level best to put a stop to this information as fast as they can! I have seen websites proclaiming lists of absurd assertions that the Paleo diet (and similar diets) will cause this and that kind of damage. And all of this merely makes me shake my head, disappointed that they are so deep in the pockets of big-pharma that they’ll rail against the best thing to happen since sliced bread!!!!

But getting back to the food: Who doesn’t love a steak?!? A grass-fed steak with some quality veggies on the side, and perhaps a salad as an appetizer… Well, I can’t really think of any meal I want more often than that one! Does that make it my favorite? I don’t know. But it’s the food that we, as humans, were literally designed to eat! So, to answer the question again: yes. Paleo is for everyone. And there is no good reason anyone can’t make it work.

GVine_GinMargaritaHow I started out:

I was just like any other kid, more interested in playing outdoors than working in the kitchen. I was also just like many other kids in that I loved to be helpful. So when my parents would ask me to go to the garden and pick out a few cucumbers for dinner, I loved it, and did it with pride. Then, at the dinner table, my parents would give praise to young me, saying things like: “Everyone thank your brother for the salad.” As little as my part in the salad had been, that little gift of recognition was enough to encourage the behaviour. The next time, I was bringing in the carrots and lettuce too. Before long, I was participating in growing the garden. And thus they encouraged my participation. But none of that amounts to the big step, from participation, to Chef.

PulledSmokedBeefOne holiday at my house, there was a large gathering. I couldn’t tell you which holiday, nor who was in the gathering – I simply don’t remember that part. What I remember is the hustle and bustle of people participating in the creation of the meal for that day. Now, remembering above that I had been rewarded for participation, I wanted to be in there, hustling and bustling just like everyone else. I wanted to participate in that group. And for whatever reason, the salad was no longer enough participation for me. I wanted more. Well, my mother saw me working my way in to the kitchen, and looked at me and said: “Only the chefs of the meal can be in the kitchen right now.” And that was it. I knew, then and there what the rules were. And since I wanted to be in that group of hustling and bustling Chefs, the only solution to my desire was to satisfy that rule: I needed to become one of the Chefs. And so I have.

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32 thoughts on “About Me

  • Reply

    Nice! I know nothing about knives so I guess I’m your garden variety cook. I have some Henckles knives. Wondering if I should get the Henckles sharpener or not. What do you think? Also, how do you sharpen knives with the curved edges?

    • Reply

      Great question, and I am so glad you asked! By the way, I would love to be “garden variety”! I’m unfortunately stuffed in a box in the middle of a city; nary a garden in sight!

      In order to answer your question properly, I would need to know which sharpener you’re looking to buy. I would also need to know which Henkel knives you have, there are many. And finally: I need to confirm that you asking does indicate that you’re interested in learning?

      For a bit of info on knife sharpening, while we’re caught in the cyberspace tag game:
      Bob Kramer is one of the world’s few master blade-smiths. Check out this video which gives a detailed basic instruction on why and how to sharpen knives (he also tries to sell you his stuff…).

  • Reply
    Evans Tang

    Great blog. You got a new eager follower on email.. looking forward to more great posts :) If you are interested, you may also check out my blog for exercise and diet articles.. Thanks and God Bless

    • Reply

      Welcome to Urban Paleo Chef! I am delighted that you like it!
      I will definitely be checking your site out – thank you for the invite!

  • Reply

    You said you live in a urban area with limited space to grow, have you seen a Tower Garden? It’s been shown on CNN, and is used by restaurants, chefs, foodies and the everyday man to grow your own organic fruits and vegetables and it takes 2.5 sq ft of space. think veritcal! check out http://www.eatyourgreens.towergarden.ca take a look and you can contact me there from that page for more info.

    • Reply

      Thanks for the link Roxanne! I am an avid gardener in my own way, and do grow what limited amounts of greens that I can. I would be delighted if there were more people who spent time gardening like you advocate on your page!
      To all you who see this: please visit Roxanne’s site – there are some great ideas there! And for the other ways to garden in small spaces, I am sure that Roxanne can help you find more resources!

  • Reply
    Ani Danelz

    You know how much I love your blog, so I nominated you for a Liebster Award!


  • Reply
    dedy oktavianus pardede

    Great to know you..
    i think i’m not ganna ask my buther to shapen my knives from now on….

    • Reply

      Thanks for the comment – and it’s been great getting to know you through your blog too!

      Knives are a big part of being a chef – I spend about an hour every week on mine, and really enjoy the work. Once you’ve got the right shape on your knives, then you can keep them in tip-top shape with just a polishing stone every week or so. And it feels great to know that you did the work yourself, and you can do it any time you need to!

  • Reply

    You write really well. It’s been a privilege to read about your experience, history, likes and dislikes… with tips involved also! I’m not a huge fan of frozen ingredients either. I do freeze some meats and vegetables that can endure the extreme cold… like you, only because I can’t access them at other times of the year. Defrosting isn’t fun though. I try to do it in the refrigerator overnight :) Anyway, I like your blog! Following you from now on (I don’t follow a paleo diet but it’ll be interesting to read more of your thoughts and recipes. You may convince me, who knows!)

    • Reply

      Thank you Laura – that’s such a wonderful compliment!
      As for convincing you: I’ll leave that job to someone else… My mission here on UPC is to share my love for food, my recipes, my thoughts, and to occasionally get out my gripes regarding the things that companies are trying to get away with. Most of what I have to say I try to make attractive to Paleo and non-Paleo alike – because everyone should appreciate quality ingredients and care taken in the food that we ingest!

  • Reply
    My little jar of spices

    Just wanted to stop by and say congrats on having your recipes featured in the Fat-Burning Chef Cookbook! Just bought it and I’m so excited, can’t wait to go through it and start trying out the recipes! Great job!

    • Reply

      I’m so excited to hear that you got it, and that you’re enjoying it! I can’t wait to hear how you like the recipes!!

  • Reply

    Great Blog! Can you help me find a Paleo personal chef on the Main Line in Philadelphia? I’m at a loss and need to find one convenient to 19096 zip code. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Now wouldn’t that be an interesting yellow-pages service!! “Paleo Personal Chefs – 1-800-….”

      I would guess that most of the personal chefs out there are already qualified and capable of cooking Paleo meals. My suggestion: hire a younger personal chef, give him/her some of the best Paleo literature out there, and instruct him/her to do Paleo meals for you. In addition to the dietary research that I would recommend for this chef, I would also suggest some of the leading cookbooks available today, including the Fat Burning Chef cookbook: https://urbanpaleochef.com/2013/06/16/fat-burning-chef-e-book/

  • Reply

    Hello! Is the fat-burning chef available in hard copy? I have a hard time reading in e-format. So excited to dig in. Thank you!!!

    • Reply

      Hello Lynn!

      Thank you for writing in, and that’s a great question! I have a word out to the publisher right now, and I’m waiting to hear back. In the mean time, I’ve been looking for ways to take my copy to a book-maker and have someone print it and bind it for me as a hard-copy version.
      It’s such an amazing book, I just don’t want to be limited to the e-book copy alone! I will make sure to share whatever solutions I can come up with, as well as what I find out when the publisher gets back to me.

    • Reply

      Ok, I have an update: this can’t be purchased on paper. But the publisher did say that he has taken his own e-book to a printer, and has had it printed and bound for his own purposes. I’m looking in to viable internet options on this – we will find something!

    • Reply

      Hi Lynn,
      I have an update: this can’t be purchased on paper. But the publisher did say that he has taken his own e-book to a printer, and has had it printed and bound for his own purposes. I’m looking in to viable internet options on this – we will find something!

  • Reply

    Oh thank you so much for the update that is great news!! I look forward so much to hearing more soon. Thank you also for responding to me so quickly and personally, I really appreciate your time. I am really looking forward to refining my diet and busting through this stasis I find myself in. You are the best!!

  • Reply
    Hari Qhuang

    I just nominated this blog for the Liebster Award. I believe my readers would enjoy this blog as much as I do. I have put a link to this blog from the post I wrote:
    Have a wonderful day! :D

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    • Reply

      Awesome BG – welcome! I am so glad that you’ve found me!
      I just stopped by your blog and noticed that you’re coming to Paleo from CF. It’s surprising to me how quickly the Paleo word is spreading in CF! I’m not a CFer myself, but my workouts look quite a lot like a CF-Endurance workout.
      Also, should I call you BG or Kelly?