Chefs Without Restaurants

Farm to Table, Indian Cooking, and More Than Masala with Chef Keith Sarasin

September 28, 2021 Chris Spear Season 2 Episode 111
Chefs Without Restaurants
Farm to Table, Indian Cooking, and More Than Masala with Chef Keith Sarasin
Show Notes Transcript

This week my guest is chef Keith Sarasin. With his business, The Farmers Dinner, Keith and other guest chefs bring a multi-course dinner out to the farms of New England. Keith also has a deep love and respect for Indian cooking, which he expresses through his Indian-inspired pop-up experience Aatma. On his More Than Masala podcast, he and co-host Ragini of Third Culture Cooks, take a deep dive into a singular spice. And while we didn’t even get into it on the show, Keith has published a number of cookbooks

On this episode, we discuss farm-to-table cooking, and being a responsible chef as it relates to your community and the environment. We talk about food waste, educating your customers, cultural appropriation, and mental health. And of course, we talk about Indian cooking, and his podcast. 

Looking to hire employees for your restaurant? This week's sponsor is Savory Jobs, a job site only for restaurants. For just $50, get unlimited job postings for an entire year. Use discount code SAVORY10 to save 10%.

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Keith Sarasin

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Keith's Instagram
Keith's Website
Keith's Facebook
Recommended Reading: India: The Cookbook, The Illustrated Foods of India, Prashad Cooking with Indian Masters
Chef to Know: Chintan Pandya

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Chris Spear:

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris Spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. There caterers research chefs, personal chefs, cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers, and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. We'd love it. If you supported the Chefs Without Restaurants, podcast, and community, there are a few ways to help. First, if you have a business or product, we're always looking for sponsors. You can also support our existing sponsors like savory jobs. If you shop on Amazon, we have our own affiliate link, or be like cool kids Matt Collins and Justin Khanna and consider joining our Patreon. If nothing else, it would be great if you subscribe to the show, rated it and reviewed it and maybe share your favorite episodes on social media. The links to all these things are in the show notes as usual. The support means everything to me. And now here's a word from this week's sponsor savory jobs. Are you shocked at what it costs to post a job ad. Instead, imagine a job site for restaurants only where you could post as many jobs as you wanted. And it only costs 50 bucks. Not for each job you post. But for all the jobs you post for an entire year. Well, my sponsor savory jobs has made that a reality. They've launched a revolutionary easy to use job site just for restaurants. And it only costs $50 for unlimited job posts for an entire year. Plus, for our loyal listeners use the code savory10 and get 0% off. So go to savory jobs. om and discover the job site t at's shaking up the restaurant industry. Forget the big corpora e sites like indeed and onster during the revolution at savory jobs calm and remember to use code savory, 10 for 10% off. And now on with the show. Thanks so much, and have a great week. Hey, Keith, how's it going? Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Keith Sarasin:

I am so so so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Chris Spear:

I'm looking forward to talking to you. It's been a while since we've chatted. But I've been following along on your journey, listening to the podcast and seeing all the cool food that you're making. So look forward to sharing that with the community here.

Keith Sarasin:

Thanks so much, man. I appreciate that.

Chris Spear:

We are guy with a podcast about spices. So I'm going to just jump right into this if you describe yourself as a spice.

Keith Sarasin:

What would that be? Who, man, you know, there's so many podcasts as you do great questions. And I love this one. I would say I'm probably probably a green chili. there's times where I get fiery. there's times where where I'm ready to to just go and I feel like it's a staple for so many South Asian dishes.

Chris Spear:

little kick to you not too hot, but enough to know that you're not messing around. Exactly.

Unknown:

I'm here for it. Well, I

Chris Spear:

like to keep it weird. So you know, I figured I'd just jump right in there. We'll get into the whole space thing in the podcast thing and a little bit, but I usually start the show by getting into your backstory. How did you get into food and cooking? I mean, did you always want to be a chef or is that something you fell into like many of us do.

Unknown:

You know for me, I always envy the people who have these stories of like I knew, you know, I wanted to be a chef. When I was younger, I didn't have that. Cooking to me was a way that I could pay my way through college. So I go to school in the morning hours and through the afternoon, and then at night, I would pick up shifts and just cook. I didn't have that, like love with cook. Cooking, to me was a necessity. So I grew up with a single mom who worked a lot. And it was my way of being able to help out. And, you know, I didn't fall in love with cooking until cooking changed for me. So for me, my friend Steve, he was the one who wanted to be the chef. Man was absolutely incredible. So I'd follow him from job to job. And he would end up being a kitchen manager, you know, and things like that. And he just inherently tagged me along and run me through the mill. But his food was always really great. He had the love for it. And years later, you know, as we continued in our career, and I eventually graduated college, ended up getting really sick, and he came down with stage four cancer. And when I was there kind of visiting and helping him through chemo appointments, he would always kind of look back and be like, Hey, remember that chicken dish we did you want to make that. And cooking change. It wasn't about food anymore. It was about serving somebody from a soul level, right? It's about taking care of it. Like we all have that memory of, you know, a grandparent or a loved one who serves us, you know, chocolate chip cookies, or something indelible, that we can close our eyes and relive that moment when we smell that thing. And that's what cooking became to me. After Steve got diagnosed, I realized it was so much more than just the bowl that we deal with on the line, you know.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I mean, I think that's what connected me to food and like, it's amazing how much a smell can transport you to a place like there's definitely smells and not just food. But I mean food is the biggest one where it's, you know, like for me doughnuts, my great grandmother used to make donuts. And it's really just the smell of like, grease, right? And like fried food. But something about that, like when you smell it, it's like I can almost feel like six years old and like her kitchen, you know what I mean?

Unknown:

And it's so cool, because there's there's a famous psychologist named Dr. Prevost, and I tell the story a lot because I love it. One day, he was dipping, you know, matalin cookie into tea, and he ate it. And it brought him back to that moment in his childhood. And it's called the Provost effect, where you actually go to that moment where you can relive that memory. And as chefs, we always talk about flavor memories, right? We like how do we elicit those responses in our diners. And I think that's what the mark of a great chef is really it's eliciting those things,

Chris Spear:

you know, something I've talked about with other chefs is how can you kind of tap into that nostalgia and someone you don't know. So I think, you know, quite often you make a leap that like, you know, most people have had this dish. And if I do this, you know, even in a playful way, like maybe I can transport them back to their childhood. But you know, like, for me, I grew up in New England and things like baked beans, like I know if I make baked beans for customers down here in Maryland, it's not necessarily going to transport them to the same place in time that when I have a bowl of them, Well,

Unknown:

yeah, it's the fluffernutter right? It's Yeah, like we love like us. As New Englanders we love fluff. And if you don't love fluff, you just you can't be part of our crew in New England.

Chris Spear:

I did my culinary internship in Minneapolis and I couldn't find fluff out there. And I was like, like, what? And someone finally told me you had to look in I think it was like the ice cream aisle. Like they kept it on top of the freezers like with Hershey syrup as an ice cream topping. And that was the problem but they it took me forever to figure that out. And I still don't think everyone even had it there.

Unknown:

What an abomination that is I mean that thing deserves to be top shelf right next to the peanut butter because every every new one litter knows that combination of fluff and peanut butter is so iconic to our childhood.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I gotta go buy some I haven't I haven't had in a while and I have to make sure my kids grow up with that. But they're gonna have their own weird Maryland food things that I didn't grow up with, I guess.

Unknown:

Can we get fluffed to sponsor this at this point, because I just want to fluffernutter Now I'm gonna reach out to them when the show's over, please do.

Chris Spear:

So. You said you went to college? Did you go to school for culinary? Did you go to school for something else?

Unknown:

Yeah, I actually went to school for psychology. I always wanted to be a marriage and family therapist. I think it was it's partly because I grew up with a single mom and I wanted to make sure that other people didn't have that same sort of experience of not having two parental figures. Turns out my mom was amazing and fulfilled both those roles like so many powerful single women do you know raising kids?

Chris Spear:

Now have you used that in any respect in your professional career or is it just something that's kind of like good to know how to understand i think

Unknown:

i think people think psychology a lot like magic tricks. Like we can just sit there and like boom, all of a sudden somebody like our beckoned, you know will. I think for me, I use psychology mostly on keeping myself sane. I certainly I think The most important thing, or one of the most important things I learned is day one. In psych 101, Dr. Cunningham was my professor at the time. And he said, You know, you're all here because you want to figure yourself out. And I thought about that a lot. And it was really true. And I think I've spent most of my life trying to do the exact same, which is why I have this deep passion for, you know, mental health, mental awareness, self love, and actual healthy sort of way and things like that.

Chris Spear:

Which are all becoming much bigger topics, not just in the food world, but especially the food world. I'm seeing a lot of conversations around mental health, but I just think everyone with work life balance and environment and all the stressors of everyday life, you know, more people, thankfully are starting to focus on mental health and well being. Yeah. And

Unknown:

a man I'm so so so encouraged by that. I mean, the industry teaches us a lot of things that are counterintuitive to being a healthy, successful human being real quick, for instance, that is, you know, we we go into the line, it's like a foxhole, right? Everyone knows what Mother's Day is like in the restaurant industry, where it's just you hear the ticket printer, and you get PTSD. But you know, you band together. And at the end of the night, what do you do you celebrate by tying on a bunch of drinks, we're taught that rewards are alcohol, when a lot of us struggle with addiction. We're taught that in the middle of a rush, if you hurt yourself, you see that on a planche. And you keep going because these customers need to be fed, we always in our industry of hospitality, we are drilled that the customer is right, that the customer comes before us. And if you think about that, from a mental health perspective, it really is opposite. If we aren't our best friend, if we actually don't stand up for ourselves, and learn to put healthy boundaries in place that that bleeds into our food. it bleeds into our leadership styles, and it bleeds into the environments and cultures in which we try to to create once we are a restaurant horse.

Chris Spear:

Oh, yeah, I mean, I was at work. When I found out my dad passed away and I still finished out my shift. You know, like, instead of dropping everything, it's like, well, he's already gone. What can I do? Like I'm just going to finish out at about six hours left. You know, I remember just a couple of years ago, a chef I was working with cut himself really bad went to the ER got stitches. He was back for dinner service. You know, like any normal industry people would just take the night off. It's like, Oh, no, it's three o'clock. I can be back for dinner. Yeah, it's

Unknown:

weird that we roof reboot, we reward bravado on this level that isn't healthy, dude. Like, I love being in that foxhole with a great crew. Right? I love that feeling. And I think that's why we, we kind of strive to go into this industry, we find this, you know, broken ish family in the best way. And I don't mean the people are I mean, we're all we're all messed up, right? We all have baggage. But I think we learned camaraderie, we were in leadership, we learn all these great things in our industry. But it becomes this self destructive imploding thing when we don't put ourselves first and take care of ourselves. And that's been, I'm so sorry for your loss. And like that's, that illustrates the moment where a leader needed to step up and be like, Hey, bro, I see you. I feel you. I've got you go.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I mean, it made me change. I mean, it changed everything. Like basically after that, my mom had already passed away. So it was like, I had kids. And I've said, You know, I wasn't gonna make the same mistakes with my kids. Like, I didn't spend enough time with my parents when they were sick and not doing well. And you can't get that time back. But like, when I had kids, that's when I decided like, as long as I was at that job, I would do what I needed to do, but no more bending over backwards, you know, it's like, I had a weekend planned with the family. And then it's like, Hey, can you switch and work another weekend? It's like, No, I have plans. Whereas, you know, when I was married, but no kids, I'd say, you know, sure, we'll figure it out. But then, you know, just like, I'm not gonna be that guy who's going to be divorced, and their kids aren't going to know them. Like, for what, for a job that pays you like, $50,000 a year that they don't even really care about you, you know?

Unknown:

Yeah. And it hurts me because like hearing that story, it's, it's a lot of what I feel is a part of the industry that's so wrong, right? Where it took you the loss of your father, you know, without a doubt one of the most, if not the most pivotal person in your entire life until your kids came along, for you to put up that boundary. And I want to create an environment in the restaurants that I open in the businesses that I run, I want to create an environment where we don't have to teach people to put up that boundary after the fact. We're there for them, helping guide them so that they put up that boundary naturally before they have that regret.

Chris Spear:

Well, I look forward to you being one of the people in the industry that we as cooks and chefs can all look up to I'm optimistic because it seems like there's a lot of people who are just going out there changing the way the whole food industry is running. And that makes me really hopeful. So what do you do what is your day to day job,

Unknown:

gas. So for the last coming up to decade, which is crazy to say I've owned and operated a company called the farmer's dinner. The farmer's dinner is this beautiful multi course meal that we present on various farms throughout New England. We basically came up well, I came up with a concept in 2012 where I was, you know, I spent a lot of time in restaurants and I was so tired of sourcing ingredients from you know, 1500 to 3500 miles away and I was like, there's got to be a better way. And you know, the owners of restaurants are always like, Well, hey, you know, Dolan Bailey and all these great companies, which are really great, my view, they show up the next day, and bam, you got everything there. We have a global supermarket at our fingertips. But I I wanted to know, you know, Maya Angelou has this great quote, she says, you know, you did what you knew how to do. And when you knew better, you did better. And so I wanted to know better, so I up and quit. And, like we always do, and I spent about six months on local farms across New England, getting to know the farmers getting to know growing cycles, like I was the chef, you know, and I didn't understand when apples came, I knew it was like a fall thing. But I didn't know that there's an early, you know, Bloom of apples that happens. And you know, really the first couple of weeks of August, I didn't know that there was you know, 41 different varieties of heirloom apples, like grow literally miles from where I was cooking. I didn't understand that strawberries have a two week cycle, and it's the call these micro seasons. And it always happens right at about Father's Day, you know, so it's like, I didn't know this stuff. I knew how to make mother sauces and all this stuff. But I didn't know how real food was grown. And that that changed my world. So I you know, I I wanted to basically on our local farms, so we through the first farmers dinner in 2012, in Nashua, New Hampshire. And it was in this restaurant run by a great chef named Joe drift. And we The concept was simple. I wanted to bring the farmers out to tell some stories of what it's like to farm nowadays, I wanted to source everything that I possibly could within a 50 mile radius. And I wanted to have an interaction between real farmers and the and the people who are eating their food. At the end of that night, it sold out which I was crazy, I didn't even think it was gonna sell out. I had no idea what I was doing. And I didn't cook it, Joe cooked it and did a great job. And I was just kind of like the facilitator. At the end of the night, people kept coming up to me, and they were like, you know, Keith, like, this was incredible. Like, this was this great event. I really didn't think about it like an event to be honest. And I certainly didn't think about it like a business. I just had this passion, you know, to support local farmers who are so cool and took me in, we decided to throw the next one about three months later. And when I put it on sale, within 24 hours, it sold out. And we ended up having about 110 person waiting list just for that event. So it was really crazy. And then as as we kind of went on, I always said this would be incredible outside, like let instead of bringing the farmers to the restaurant, why don't we bring people to the farms, because my goal was to support farms. And if farmers are donating food to us, that doesn't help them. If farmers are coming out to the restaurants, that's great. But the key here is once you get somebody in the door for the first time, especially at a farm, they're going to start to feel comfortable by about going back and meeting these people. And then they can say, Oh, I know Carl hills at Kimball fruit farm. I'm gonna shop there. That to me was the missing linchpin. And here we are. 10 years later, I've hosted that 92 sold out dinners fed over 17,000 people and given about $200,000 back to the local economy.

Chris Spear:

Wow, that is amazing. I mean, you know, farm to table has been a topic that's gotten or a phrase that's been thrown around a lot over the years, but this sounds like truly kind of farm to table.

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, it's funny, like farm to table. You're right. It's so cliche. You know, what we do now is we bring tables to farms. Like that's the reality of what we do because if you can get to the farm and overlook this beautiful vineyard or this apple orchard while you're eating ingredients picked just feet from where you are, that's the connection I wanted to make.

Chris Spear:

You know, and it's really hard when you're working for larger operations even if you can get the products I feel like there's so many things in your way like I was working for Sodexo, and we had to get most of our food through Cisco. I did know a local farmer who is raising heritage breed pigs he had worked with a broker to get the product in stock and every time I went to order it there was a problem and I feel like it was on the side of like the Cisco side and I would talk to them were like oh well you know it was held up in shipping and we can't get it but we've got this really great you know, Packer pork product, I'm like no, like that's not what I want. And then my company's like, Well, you know, it's really not the spec product. It's like, you know, we have the budget for this. If I can clip money from somewhere else, why can't I use this I just felt like all these forces were pushing against me to use this really amazing product from a really awesome low Coal farm and it's just a shame.

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, that's honestly a really great point that gets that needs to get illustrated more. A lot of people are like, you know, I want to source these products, but like, it's such a hassle. And it is, you know, when you there's major food store, major grocery stores that if you want to get your product, and they have a lot of regulations, you know, there's food stores, produce is a really good example of this, you go into Whole Foods, and everything is perfect, right? Like it and bless them for doing it. I mean, their produce section is literally flawless. Like, every time I walk in there, I always laugh, because that isn't reality. For me, I spent a lot of time on farms, you know, still to this day, getting my hands dirty and enjoying that process. Like anyone who's ever been to a farm knows that there's a lot of one of the biggest issues is, is waste. So about a third of what a farm produces, actually goes to waste, whether that's insects, whether that's crop failure, whether that's, you know, Colorado potato beetle or fungus, a third goes to waste, well, all those drops from an apple as well can't be used. So you think about all the apples that fall to the ground and really can't be used. All of these things create this clustered and clogged up system, where people don't have access to the food at an affordable price that they really should. And I think you illustrated that point perfectly. It needs to get better even today in 2021. I was just

Chris Spear:

at the orchard two days ago, and there were a ton of apples just like laying on the ground under the trees starting to rot. It's like, man, I just want to go around and collect them and do something with them. I hate seeing like all this food sitting here rotting.

Unknown:

Yeah, and let's, you know, I think one of the most important things facing our generation and future generations is absolutely climate change. I think that you know, most people in this world can agree that this point, and I think about the amount of food waste that happens when still in this country, the wealthiest country in the entire world, there's still people going to bed hungry. And these are the things that keep me up at night. Now, you know, like, next year, we're going to have the beautiful opportunity to work with a new hampshire food bank that does incredible, incredible work here. And I think about all the opportunity for us as a community and an industry to say Yo, we need to stamp out hunger, like you guys know how to cook in this industry, what we really need to do is beyond cooking, lies connection, let's band together and start rooting out some of these problems. And I can put it just this way and I think this is the best way to put it. Everyone listening to this who's been on the line and have worked in the industry. You know what you guys do, right? You guys, you girls, you people beyond the binary like when we get together. Imagine what we do you know, somebody will call out and we're like, screw it. We got this screw we got this, you know, the burners down the fryers down doesn't matter. We got this. We figure out solutions to problems on the fly all the time. Why are we not banding together coming up with so many more solutions right now?

Chris Spear:

And I would challenge everyone listening to like, look at what you're throwing in your bins and assess that.

Unknown:

Yeah, amen. So perfectly said and I get a lot of people are sitting here listening to this going, Yeah, well like labor and you're right, I get the labor side of it. There's a lot to do in a restaurant. But at the same point, we all carry a responsibility. And a lot of that is now an ethical responsibility of how we're going to leave this next generation. These these things that are affecting us at this point. You know, one of the things that I love about the farmers dinner that we do now is I've since we've been 10 years now there's a lot of things I get to do that I didn't in the beginning, one of which is we get to look at our impact our environmental impact a lot. And so, you know, in the beginning that we were wasting a lot of food, there's no doubt about it. I wish I could sit there and be like, yeah, you're one we were great. I mean sick, you're six, like we were still struggling with food waste and how to do it. Now we work with like 100% compostable plates, and I bought a lot of China serve at the farmers dinner. And I don't use it. I looked at the impact on labor. I looked at the impact on the environment when it comes to waterways. I looked at the impact on dish soap and things of that nature. When you're doing a dinner like we do with 125 plus people, six courses, think of the plates think of the water that goes through that I can immediately change my environmental impact by using Presta Katie upon that biodegrades within about seven days or so and has an incredible positive impact because they don't harvest the Acadia palm when it's currently on the tree. The weight of the leaf is dead and falls and now it creates a work opportunity where there wasn't before.

Chris Spear:

Where can you pick that up? Because that's something I'm always interested in.

Unknown:

So there's So originally I got it on Amazon because that's where I first wanted to find it and now I actually mail the company directly and I can get it that way. I'm still trying to get them to not wrap in plastic. Because you know, again, it's all about impact. But we buy in bulk there. There's a bunch of different companies. folium is one company that you leaves that are pressed with natural resin and bamboo picks. So these things, and I'll let people may be listening being like, yeah, whatever, like, you know, like, but the more that we do this, the better you're going to feel about leaving a legacy that's positive on this planet rather than negative.

Chris Spear:

I think one of the challenges is, all of this costs more money. And that's a big conversation, especially with the consumer. I think even as an operator, if you understand it's like, purchasing compostable products a lot more expensive than paper and styrofoam, purchasing. You know, amazing quality products from a farm is more expensive than buying commodity meat and vegetables in a grocery store. Like, what has the response been to price? Like, I don't know what you've charged for your dinners and stuff. But what's that conversation been around the pricing of it?

Unknown:

Yeah, so I love that question. Because everyone does go Oh, well, it's more expensive at farms. Well, it's more expensive if you're going to eat the same way that you've always ate. If you go out and you want ribeye seven days a week, you're gonna pay more for grass fed ribeye. And to be honest, grain fed ribeye is a little bit better. You know, I like grass fed grain finished. Here's the thing, when we boil it down, this is how I justify the costs. Number one, my job at the farmers dinner is I call up a farm and I say, hey, Carol from miles Smith farm. I'm going to be sourcing some beef for this next dinner. My first question to her is I don't tell her what the menu is going to be. I asked one question, I say what are you sitting on? And what can't you sell? The reason I did this, and I did this, I started this four or five years ago, I think at this point. The reason I started doing this is number one, when a cow goes to slaughter I don't you know I'm not the one sending it there. I'm the one who's trying to take it and say I know everyone wants filet. I know everyone wants ribeye, they want tenderloin, I want to use the cuts that people don't necessarily know how to use because one, it honors the animal at that point, too. It's helping the farmer get rid of inventory. And when you work on like, basically animal protein farms and, and you deal with meat, one of the biggest issues is space. You know, it's such a hard thing to always, you know, keep flushing out your freezer and making sure that you're backstock it's good. So that's what I'd asked Carol. So one time she had a bunch of pig head. And so I did this beautiful coconut test, which is d boned and rolled pig head that you're brining, and it takes seven days to burn the picket and then a bunch of hours to braise it out. And then all that time to sort through it. But yes, that's the labor side of it. But I can tell you that my food cost is astronomically low for what we are able to do. And I still do six courses out of this. And so it's being able to shave cost by buying in season buying bulk. And asking the farmer What are you looking to get rid of helps traumatically lower your food cost.

Chris Spear:

You know, there's also another education piece with customers, right? And you know, it's probably a little different when you do a special dinner like that, as opposed to maybe what I do in many restaurants where so many of us are in that trap of the customer wants x the customer wants to delight like pee. I have people every day literally like I want beef tenderloin, and how do I get them to not go for that, you know, I can't even flip them from a tenderloin over to like a strip steak, you know, it's like, I'm not gonna get them to a pig's head. And I think that's one of the challenges I go through. Because I'm not always cooking. What I want to do you know, it's like the same with like, seasonal vegetables like, people will want asparagus this week. It's like what, like, this is not asparagus season. Yeah, I can buy it, but it's not going to be good. And I don't really want to be cooking it.

Unknown:

So. So anytime I take on a new cook, whether it's a restaurant that I open, or whether it's farmers dinner, I sit them down and I say hey, what do you love to cook? What's your passion? You know, we go through that. And I say, Okay, I have a couple of rules here. And they're not many. The first is I do not want you cooking to please other people. You're not cooking for them. you're cooking for you. And it's something that most chefs are like, Wait, what? Like and I'm like, No, you're not cooking for them. I don't care if they want that. My job and our job. Listen, our job as chefs is to educate the public on what they should be eating. You know, you go to a dinner at per se. And there's probably people who have not had the, you know, oysters and caviar dish. You know, I get that there's probably a lot of people who may say, Oh, I don't eat less. You know, caviar in my hands is probably you know, maybe it's worth $50 caviar and grant Atkins hands is probably worth 300 Plus, you know, in matters whose hands This is in. And so, as people as we build rapport and trust with our customer, we start to realize that our job is to teach and educate them. One of the ways that you can do this is you start doing rag news, you start doing off cuts and saying, Hey, we're gonna make this really delicious thing that's pulled braised, and it's in a form that people can get with some freshly made pasta, and all of a sudden they're going Oh man, this is so good. What are we having? Oh, there's actually port Jabal, it works exactly like pulled pork. And then you're automatically using the off cut, which is better for the farm. It's better for your bottom line. And it's something that the customer is now educated with and happy with.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, I think getting them to see the value in that, that when you do a Ragu, you know, it's like, they don't want to pay as much for a Ragu dishes as like a steak or something, even though it's just a weird, you know, I do a lot of things like that, like I have a lamb and grits dish, and I don't say what kind of lamb it is. And it's very open to like, whatever I get. So if I can get a good deal on a leg, or shoulder or whatever, I'm just gonna braise on down. But there still, it's like the idea of like, people don't want to eat chicken because they cook chicken at home all the time. And it's cheap. So they don't see it as a luxury ingredient. Even if you do amazing things with it. It's just like figuring out how to sell the sell that kind of stuff to people.

Unknown:

Yeah, man, it's so true. And it's, but I think if chefs would stop the bowl of saying, hey, it has to be this, it has to be that it has to be those, those key ingredients meant schwaber our tastes really good. Like, no one's gonna deny that, you know, like, it tastes great, like, but do I need to have that all the time on a menu to be bougie? And to be cool? No, not at all man, like, and I respect the people who want that on the menu, like, absolutely respect, man. It's delicious, delicious stuff. And it takes skill to prepare it right? And especially for our dreams and things like that. But at the end of the day, when I sit there, and I say this to a lot of chefs, I'm like, last meal on Earth. I know that's so tough, right? We because we're like, oh man, it'd be this that I guarantee these people aren't saying I want a dehydrated, oyster crisp. You know, they're not saying that you're being like, I want my grandmother's, you know, casserole. Like it's the things that provide us comfort. And it's the thing that that provide us back, you know, full circle to the memory and Alyssa, that pre post effect,

Chris Spear:

which is interesting to see. There's so many chefs who've opened high end restaurants that then either close them and open something more homey or at least have that as their second restaurant where it's like, they have their high end where they're doing some you know, really advanced stuff super expensive, and then they'll like open a taqueria and I just think that's really interesting. It's like what is that saying? It's like you know, there's a lot of people out there who just want that kind of food.

Unknown:

Yeah, it my career was fine dining. I love fine dining. It means so much to me. plating is such an important part of what I what I love so much. But as I've transitioned into you know, studying food from the Indian subcontinent for the last 10 years and and farmers dinner and never repeating a course and almost 500 courses now, you know, it's these things that are fueling a passion for me that allow me to go hey, we can still take a food, put that soul into the ingredients soul into the food, make people elicit that response, but also elevate the plating and the visual side of it.

Chris Spear:

Okay, there's a couple things there I want to backtrack on so you've never done a dish more than once.

Unknown:

Nope. So yeah, crazy. Well, my thing is this a people go to the farmers dinner for the experience, whenever we bring out guest chefs, because every every dinner has a bunch of chefs at it. My first thing is, hey, whatever you make today dies today will never repeat it. I did this burnt onion ice cream. We did this this dual menu called Heaven and Hell once and my buddy Justin did the heaven menu, I did the hell. And it was so much fun. I started off with Burton onion ice cream. And I've had so many clientele like so many customers be like, please bring it back. And I'm like, No, like, I'm never do it. The exception might be our 10 year anniversary, we might do one dinner that's the best have in the last 10 years and then and then do it. But every dinner you get is a snapshot. Because you're sitting on a farm, right? Think about this. You're sitting on a farm in one moment of time that will never exist again. Ever. That scenario with that farm with that weather that with that type of of environment will never exist again in its nature. So why don't I just do something that's so special? That you can take that menu and say this will never be done again?

Chris Spear:

Wow, it's deep when you put it like that.

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, we, we say we cook food but what we really are. I feel like I'm this weird old Sage philosopher,

Chris Spear:

has nothing wrong with that. And then you just kind of quickly mentioned Indian food. Now I've gotten to know you as someone who cooks a lot of Indian food. Can we talk about Indian food and where that came from? You're not Indian. You're a white guy. I'm assuming you know that's not your heritage. So how did you get into cooking Indian food?

Unknown:

Yeah, I so when I was growing up, I was really picky as an eater right? I think I would eat mac and cheese pizza spaghettios and that was about it. And so I I had a friend named named spree and his family owned an Indian restaurant in New Hampshire. And I would go over there play some video games and they would be like, oh, like you know, try this. I was like, absolutely not. And and I think It's important to camp out on that point of Absolutely not. If you're in the western audience, and you're listening to this, and you've never tried Indian food, there's a lot of preconceived notions that you have right now, right? One, it's spicy, too, it doesn't look very appetizing. Three, the smells and scents aren't something that you can pick up on and recognize, like these three things are very big disqualifiers for most audiences in the West, and so they were big disqualifiers for me, too, so I can relate with that. It wasn't until he beat me in a video game and a bet one day that I decided he's like, if you lose, you got to try Indian food. And so we walked into this this Indian restaurant and I like spicy food I was okay with with spicy food. And so he's like, try chicken vindaloo and I knew like, you know, walking into an Indian restaurant when you don't know anything about the culture of the cuisine is like strange. There's words like doll and angiopathy. And like all these things that you don't you have no idea what they mean. And it's even more pronounced than you know, when you walk into a Chinese restaurant. I think a lot of families have that. Okay, we know what American Chinese food is. You're brought up from a young age Italian food. You know what Italian food is because everyone has a chops, you know, a chop suey recipe that's like, sort of in like American Chinese and everyone has like a pasta recipe. Everyone kind of gets sushi now. But the western audience is very foreign to what Indian food is. So I eat chicken vindaloo that day and the first time I ripped garlic naan, dunk it in that that gravy, and then close my eyes and took a bite. It was like Neo seeing the matrix. I was literally like, wait, but what is happening? Like I don't even under? I like I couldn't pick out what was even happening. Right? I understood that there were sour. And I understood that there was some spicy, but I couldn't pick one spice that they were using. It was like this beautiful Symphony. And I I literally like got confused. I was like, how are they doing this. And that put me on this path to just becoming straight obsessed with learning everything I could. I was fortunate that about a block down. There was this wonderful spice shop that I went to and walked in there with with my friend Supriya one day and there was this wonderful Gujarati lady in the back of the store. And she must have saw, like, like a deer in the headlights. And she's like, she smiled and she's like, Hi, my name is Indra. And Indira and I was like, Hi, I'm, you know, never been in here. She's like, I can tell. And so I she ended up being this amazing human being who would cook lunch once a day. And she would sell lunch out of her kitchen there. You couldn't really order anything. She didn't have a menu, whatever she felt like cooking she would do. And I can tell you I've been really blessed and lucky to eat all over the world at this point, Michelin star this that everything. And I got to say, some of my favorite food memories are hers. And they came out of a styrofoam little package. But she would she would put all of the gosun and I always try to tell this story. And it always gets challenging for me here because the food wasn't pretty, you know, she was making like bindi masala and it was just like these slivers of okra, and it didn't look like it was going to taste, you know, like it did. But the love the attention and the soul in that food was something no chef I've ever met can replicate. And still to this day, I chase that Dragon of trying to find a way to be able to put my soul into this dish. So when somebody's eating it, they stop and they go, this is food. There's

Chris Spear:

a couple things I want to kind of tap on there first, I think is having someone who knows the cuisine who can maybe guide you is always beneficial. You know, like, I had never had Indian food until I was 22. Like I don't even think I had it in calendaring school. And I met my wife who was a vegetarian and Indians one of those cuisines that you can eat a lot if you're vegetarian, and she took me to a restaurant and I gotta say the stuff that I eat now that she introduced me to is not something I would have gone and ordered off the menu had I gone by myself. So like my favorite is saag paneer or pojoaque. Pioneer. I love Molly kofta. You know, I love things like that. I think I probably would have gone and gotten like, chicken tikka masala, right, which is like the gateway that everyone kind of gets. You know, but having someone who was familiar with the cuisine to kind of guide me, I think is a good place to start. You don't always have that. Yeah, but like my parents would have never just gone to a random Indian restaurant, having never been and just ordered food. Like that's just not the environment I grew up in.

Unknown:

Yeah. Oh, for sure. And insane. My mom was a very picky eater, so it was like passed on to me. indro wasn't the type. She would always say Oh, she should try this. You should try this. But she didn't teach me to cook in the beginning it took a tremendous amount of willpower on her part to say no and also my part to keep going in. So I would go into her Store Day after day and say Can you teach me something Can you teach me something? And she's like oh no you know like you're you know and I was like, but I know how to cook like this is like a thing and so after months and months of this she needed some website help I helped her on a website and she agreed to teach me one thing and I I mean, I have stories of walking in there and there's there's the stories that are indelible you know, walking in and it smells like incense early in the morning and these are these are prayers like these hymns are playing in Hindi and I wanted to show her tremendous amount of respect and so you know, things like turmeric that I knew in the in the West I didn't use a lot of we don't use a lot of turmeric right? We have it in like lattes now because it's the big thing to tip

Chris Spear:

and you have like really old tumeric that's like lost all of its flavor because you bought like one one McCormick container of it like three four years ago for to use like a teaspoon and now it has lost all of its flavor right? Yeah.

Unknown:

Like people don't understand that like spices actually have shelf life so they can't just stay in cabinets forever. And like you know so for me I wanted to start to learn spice names in Hindi and so you know, I'd be googling things on like, Turmeric is how the and cumin is Judah and like so I would say these things to her and I'd watch her be like Oh, he cares He's trying and so I would get kicked out of her kitchen all the time I'd cut onions and she'd be like that's not how you cut onions I'm like no that's like how you cut an onion and she's like, that's how the West cuts onions and she'd be like make me rice and I would make rice and she's like no What are you doing? This isn't no and she would say

Chris Spear:

hold on for one site like do you wash your rice or like as someone who did not grow up with the culture of rice I don't think I even rinsed my rice until like four years ago like you're you rent your rice now right?

Unknown:

Oh yeah, not now. It's like it's a freakin ritual. Like it's drilled into me where like we'll take basmati for instance basmati is really important because any long grain rice you do want to soak for a while so I'll soak it in very cold water and then the first thing that she would teach me She's like, after you soak it for an hour you massage the rice under the water you're literally massaging it and she goes the rice is ready to be cooked when the rice runs clear. And like if you've never understood like how long it takes to actually get rice clear. Where the water clear it takes a tremendous amount of time and then the method in which I do it is very different depending on Sonoma Saudi rice or basmati rice or you know insert next rice here. There's more than 50 varieties of rice around India alone nevermind the subcontinent.

Chris Spear:

And every single one of them I just opened the bag, put it in a measuring cup, put it in a pot and put twice as much liquid in and call it a day no rinsing no massaging no soaking that's how I've cooked rice like my whole life has started to change over the past couple of years as everyone's like don't white people know how to cook rice I'm like I don't know maybe I don't know how to cook rice and I'm big enough to say that I didn't start to learn until I was in my 40s

Unknown:

so when I started learning to cook biryani and biryani is biryani is almost like American Chop Suey for us right in the in the context of there's so many states in India that have different biryanis whether you have Hyderabadi biryani or you know you have look now biryani like you know all these different biryanis Chennai, Kolkata and they're they're the same in in the concept they're very different in the styles and the spices so when I started looking at learning to cook I like cooking look now to biryani which is tend to be meat for it tends to have just a lot of like masala masala basically is the word for spice By the way, it just means spice blend. So when I started learning to cook that I would take biryani and Indra would be like, every grain of rice must be perfect. I was like, Well what does that mean? She's like, every grain, there can be no grain that is undercooked. There can be no grain that is overcook. And she's like if one grain is wrong, you're disrespecting the rice. I was like What do you mean? And she's like, and she started explaining like rice comes typically from the himalayans. She's like, do you understand how hard it is to actually like, cultivate and grow rice? It's like it's a tremendous amount of work that people put a lot of effort into, you must honor those. And so it's like, these are the voices that I have in my head every single time I cook whether it's an Atma and what I'm doing or whether it's it's at home just pulling out a spice cabinet. No pressure. Yeah, no, my life is literally this constant stream of like her my guru crush de la and Mumbai just saying these things Ronnie, you know like saying these things of what matters.

Chris Spear:

I want to go back to like the the way food looks right because I think chefs are taught eat with your eyes, you know you have to make it pretty. I notoriously hate throwing things It's like micro greens on a plate just because and I feel like that's one of those things that we do just to kind of doll it up. But you know what? I don't know the collective we like what can we do to kind of change the perception that like, food doesn't always have to be intricately plated and look a certain way that like, the most delicious food quite often looks terrible and doesn't Instagram well.

Unknown:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, we can all like chicken tikka masala is a delicious dish, right? Like, anyone who kind of has had it before. You know, it's delicious. It's craveable that with non garlic non tastes amazing. I'm not here to say that that doesn't, but I'm here to say that it's not always the prettiest dish. There's a lot of things that the West knows is curries. Right? Which, oh, everything's curry. When it comes to that food. I started taking the approach early on, when I started tackling food from the subcontinent. I started saying like, I want to create food that is authentic and flavor, but has modern plating techniques and styles associated with it. So I would take something like chicken tikka masala, and I would say, Okay, if we're breaking down the sauce, the sauce is actually gorgeous. If you just take the the protein out of it and take the sauce, it's a beautiful sauce with a great consistency that spreads well across the plate. Now if I take the protein with it, whenever you do chicken tikka masala, the root of that is something called Chicken Tikka. Tikka means pieces in Hindi. And so it would be these chicken pieces that were marinated in ginger and garlic and beautiful, beautiful aromatic spices overnight. And then you would take that and you would put that on a skewer and put it in a tender oven. And then that chicken now has this charcoal II super tender flavor to it with a smokiness. And then you would take that and put it into the sauce. And I'm like, Well, if we're just separating the layers of that, but allowing them to touch that refinement, because now I can take a piece of chicken and say I'm going to do this beautiful chicken that's marinated in the same sort of way, skin on breast will take it just as this for instance. So this is a dish that I've done, I'll suvi it first, I'll finish it over really hot coals to get that flavor to it. Slice it then and then I put that on, on top of that beautiful sauce that's right in the middle of the plate. And I like to finish it with two things, one, brown buttermilk crumbs, because when you're browning the butter, you're starting to separate it, you're getting this nice, beautiful nuttiness to it. And then when you add milk powder to it, it creates this crumbly texture that melts in your mouth that still works on the dish. And then the second thing I like to do is just dots of cilantro oil. That's how I finish the dish. And so every bite of that is chicken tikka masala and every single solitary way. The only thing I'm doing different is just changing the plating approach.

Chris Spear:

That sounds delicious. Count me in for a plate. Thanks, Ben. Anytime. So has there been pushback to you cooking Indian food without this being like a super huge thing on cultural appropriation? There's been so many conversations about that. But I mean, it is an issue and people you know, bring it up all the time now, like what's the reception been to you cooking Indian food?

Unknown:

Yeah. So I mean, I'm a white guy who lives in New Hampshire, right? Cooking is a very white place. Yeah, super white place. Um, so first of all, it's kind of like this. So I spent a lot of time in the beginning, defending myself, or, you know, really just like putting up that wall of saying, like, you know, why do you feel this way and trying to really engage deeply in that conversation? And I think that there's still some merit there. I would bring these questions to my guru. Kudos to LAO. And he would say, to hell with them, and then I always laugh and they'd be like, no, he goes, here's why. And this started to get me to think of a whole different aspect. So one of the most iconic parts of Indian cuisine, we'll talk about the chili, right? spiciness, chili. Well, the chili is an Indian chili was brought to go by the Portuguese. You think about Tomato. Tomato is the root in the backbone of a lot of different dishes that bring a sweetness to it. The tomato was not brought there. It was bought by the Portuguese. You think about cauliflower? And how the how cauliflower was brought by the English in the 1600s. You think about potato Alou? Like I was just saying, brought by the English. If they want if people want to say I'm appropriating food number one, you have to understand that this is something I study every single solitary day, whether it's a food and politics course with kudos, whether it's countless hours of reading and researching, when you go to my Instagram, it's a variable. It's just a dump of history when it comes to food from the subcontinent. So I'm not sitting there being like, Hey, what's up here's a chicken tikka masala pizza or non Nan bread, you know, and like go send it domain. This is something I have a deep respect for. The other thing is how can you actually appropriate food, whether it's any culture appropriation in this definition is taking without asking permission from anyone, as far as I understand it, no one Food, no one. Now I certainly certainly wish that every single person who worked with food that they weren't familiar with would do a tremendous amount of research, send that love back to the people constantly promote the people in which they're cooking that cuisine, I spend insane amounts of time talking to my friends from the subcontinent more so than I do my friends around here at this point, because it's where my journey is, we don't own food. And if somebody says, hey, you're appropriating Indian food, well, you guys are appropriating food from from Mexico. And where's Mexico, appropriating food from? Right, we don't own food. But we should. And I cannot stress this enough, we should be doing everything in our power to promoting the cuisine in which we are cooking. Because if we are all lighting up, that cuisine can now have its day in the sun, and be put on that pantheon of greatness. Just like French cuisine, just like Japanese cuisine is now it food from the Caribbean food from the subcontinent. This all needs to be there food from Africa, West African food, Chinese food, all of this food deserves to be on the exact same platform with the fine dining French food.

Chris Spear:

I've talked about this a lot with different people. I don't think anyone's set it as clearly as you. So thank you for that. I really appreciate that. I think it's a great point and one that, you know, I don't want to talk about all the time, but I think I thought you'd be a really good person to talk to about that.

Unknown:

Thanks. Yeah, you know, it's something I take really serious. I don't take personally I take serious, right, where the most important thing for me is to honor the people who have helped me get to this point. And it's to honor the cuisine. It's not about Keith at the end of the day. So the restaurant that we're going to be opening the pop up series that we do, it's called Optima. It's the Hindi word for soul. Right in the better translation is the truest expression of oneself. The reason I call it Atma, is because this is the truest expression of all of my food. My entire life has boiled to this moment, where it's something that I feel like I am literally obsessed with, and I can't quench that fire, you know. So my job is to take that and show everyone who will listen. Anyone who will listen, I'm like, Hey, you need to try this, hey, you need to check this out. So if you get inspired, maybe you spend your dollars because we vote with our dollars, right? When we do takeout, or we decide. There's there's some wonderful restaurants in this country, Indian accent in New York City row in Chicago, gi and Miami, the mokka, which means explosion in New York City. The market is one of the greatest restaurants I've ever been in because they're putting Indian food in this beautiful context of village cuisine, Jeff chitons is is a master in what he's doing. And so it's like my job is to help push them because they can carry this cuisine much, much more than most people can.

Chris Spear:

Having spent so much time in Indian cuisine. Have you spent any time kind of focusing on other cuisines? Like, what else? Do you like this idea Indian cooking? Or is that been the primary focus of what you've been doing? I mean, I know it's been I know, it's been the primary focus. But like, you know, you always see guys on top chef who like only cooks a Indian food. And then it's like, they have to do a Thai challenge. And they're like, I don't know how to cook Thai food.

Unknown:

Yeah, for sure. I, for me, you know, I spent so much of my career just learning what I would say just like new American cuisine, where I'm cooking with the seasons, I'm cooking food. That's, that's super hyper fresh. It's that new kind of new Nordic style. I've really loved that. And it's something that will always be my default. I feel really confident my ability to execute those dishes really well. And continue to do that. And at farmer's dinner when I'm putting out a course. It's not Indian food, mind you. Like there may be some influences here and there. There may be some masala blends, there may be some chutneys that have kind of backboned into the into into that, but it's not Indian food. aatma is my expression for Indian food. I would love to explore so many other cuisines. But I feel like to be very honest, if I lived 100 lifetimes, I might not even scratch the surface of how deep this cuisine is. And I'm going to devote the rest of my life to this because he

Chris Spear:

so for those who want to learn more about Indian cooking, what are your favorite resources like books, websites, like if I just want to be a better Indian cook at home? Yeah, for sure.

Unknown:

So I on my Instagram, I posted these three books that I reference all the time that I love this cool little reel. I definitely recommend those. India the cookbook Am I push bash Ponte is an incredible book. It's like a monster of a book. I find that that is a really good reference guide. One of my little tips and tricks that I don't think I've ever revealed that I do a ton of and spend a ton of time late at night is YouTube. I cannot express how much YouTube I actually watch. Especially at like two three and four in the morning where I'm just looking at Indian streetfood I've devoted the last, you know, coming up to a year of really learning Hindi. And so my Hindi is getting okay here. And so I'm able to kind of really go through and be like, Okay, I understand what they're talking about here and there. So YouTube is an incredible resource. And the other thing that I'd highly recommend is going out and trying stuff that you typically wouldn't, you know, I don't need to go to a fine dining restaurant to get my Indian fix, I can certainly make things at home, which I do a lot. But there's some really great Indian restaurants, I'm sure are right outside all of our doors, you know, start by exploring this little bit more and more and Google what you're doing. Right? If you if you don't know what Mr. Dahle is, like, there's a really great opportunity just we all have this device that we hold in our hands most of the day that has every piece of recorded information that's ever existed, like wrap your mind around that for a minute, like, the thing in our hand was 100 times, like, more powerful right now than all of the equipment that sent a spaceship to the moon.

Chris Spear:

I mean, h Mart using Google Translate with the photo thing because I'll go in H Martin being like, the aisle looking at Indian food, none of it's an angle. I mean, some of its in English, but like holding it up where it like literally translates it on the screen for you. Because there were some spices. For me. One of the things is like the spices being in different names. And I, I don't remember what I needed fenugreek or something like that. It was the first time I bought it. And it wasn't called fenugreek or something. Yeah, exactly. Yes. And I needed the seed, right? And I'm like, is that a Greek See? And like, I had no idea and I had to break out my phone and

Unknown:

figure it out. Yeah, and it gets so complicated to like, you know, again, I I'm never gonna be an Indian chef, right? I'm gonna cook Indian food, but I will never understand the culture, the way that the people who are brought up there. And so when you look at like something like fenugreek, the words Medi, but there's Medi seed, there's my tea powder. There's the vegetable methi because many seed will kind of germinate within about seven days. And you actually have like metti, which is pretty awesome. And I don't it's weird to think about it now because I label my spices in English, but some of them are labeled in Hindi because like I don't know, I forget the words for them at this point. It's so confusing. Well,

Chris Spear:

I'm talking about spices. You have a podcast about spices now. Do you wanna talk about your podcast for a few minutes? Yeah, I'd

Unknown:

love to. Well, first of all, like,

Chris Spear:

why did you start a podcast about spices?

Unknown:

So coming up to your and a little bit of change ago, I met one of my dear dear friends, Ronnie Kashyap. And Ronnie is an incredible teacher. She hates when I call her guru. So if she listens to this, I'm just gonna say teacher. She's brilliant. She's a food researcher. She's an incredible teacher and she was teaching this class along with my guru crystal out about food and politics. And I, I really was captivated by the amount of knowledge that ronnie had. And, and just her passion for this. And so I was really honored, we kind of like followed each other a little bit. And I would always just be like, man, if I knew a quarter of the stuff and I still stay this to this day, I'm like, Ronnie, like, I'll never know as much as you. And so she approached me and she's like, I'd really like to do something with you. And I was like, man, like, I was like, You shirt. She's like, Yeah, no, like, I think you really know more than you're giving yourself credit for. And we ended up talking about a podcast and we landed on the phrase more than masala since masala mean spices. We wanted to showcase that the that the food from the subcontinent is so much more than just spices. And it is and so we we wanted to say, let's take every episode is we take one space, and we deep dive into that space. From a historical standpoint, the usage standpoint, and I come on, and I basically talk about from a chef perspective, you know how I use that what I do with those things. So you leave with a history lesson, you leave with some really mind blowing facts that dude, I am still to this day, like what like spices were currency, like spices, like black pepper saved Rome, like this is nuts. So I learned stuff like that, and then you're able to kind of take away and use some applicable things for spices right away. So it's pretty rad.

Chris Spear:

Did you know anything about starting a podcast when you started a podcast?

Unknown:

I had some really good friends who had some great podcasts. But no, I had a one of my best friends is named Matt Jackson. And he's a singer and songwriter. And he I was like, hey, I want to do some podcasting. Let's Let's go buy some stuff. And he's like, you know, it's like there's a lot of mics out there he's like, but the tried and true sm 58 He's like, I think you're gonna like this mic and I've always used that so he gave me a lot of tips along the way from a technical side of it and then Ronnie and I were like we're just gonna figure this out. I think we're still figuring it out phase. We're not like you like you're you're crushing it,

Chris Spear:

but your sounded good from the start. I didn't do any editing your sounds. I listened. The first I think like three of six I think you have maybe like six hours Does that sound right? Yeah but like the quality sounds amazing from the start and the editing or whatever you're doing is working

Unknown:

thanks man that's that's amazing especially coming from you like there's like people we look up to you like you and I listened to your first podcast to like dead serious and you know you were always there and I think that's the the part of it like to have a successful podcast, you certainly need the technical side of things. But I think the person has to be there your passion has to come through and yours always always does.

Chris Spear:

I think that's where a lot of the celebrity podcasts kind of fizzle out right? Like you've got all the money in the world and you're Kanye and you want to start a podcast and you can hire producers and get the expensive gear but like you don't have it in you and it's not really a good show, but it sounds polished right? You know, it's like there's a lot of YouTube videos I'd rather watch than TV shows that are on you know, NBC.

Unknown:

Oh, for sure. Like that's Yeah, that's why I always say I spend the most of my time watching youtube I think the content creators out there in the world right now are like one of the one of the things that we need to be talking more about because man, like we live in this age, where it's so cool to watch so many people just deep dive into like history and sight I'm a nerd if you can't tell by that, like, I love history and so like to be able to see people doing incredible stuff. Man I it's, it's a heck of a time to be alive.

Chris Spear:

Well in the barrier to entry right now is very minimal. I mean, you can put something out there, that's not totally polished. I mean, again, with the iPhone, what you can do is amazing. I know people recording their podcasts on their iPhone, you know, and shooting awesome videos on their iPhones. And yeah, we there's been an explosion of people creating content. And I think sometimes, amateurs are more passionate about something like, I look at the Sufi community, like I do some cvwd. But the like the home cooks who have just, like, taken it to the next level and are eating every day, like I learned way more from those amateurs than any other place I've ever learned about cvwd

Unknown:

Yeah, and that's like a testament to how many people like have a passion, passion takes you. I say this all the time, like passion takes you so far, right? But desires, the thing that keeps you going, even when the passion starts to wane. And so it's like, that's the important thing.

Chris Spear:

Do you have kind of, like, an end date with this? Like, what's the podcast? Looking like? Are you gonna keep going for the foreseeable future?

Unknown:

Yeah, so we, uh, we actually really love doing it. And if nobody listens, that that's kind of cool. Like, we like we're okay with that. To me, I we both learn a lot from each other. And I, you know, we have right now, I think over 20 that we're looking at as of right now, and there's so many other things that we can explore. For instance, just like spice blends, like masalas. Like, there's all these different blends, depending on the state in which you're in from the subcontinent that are so so different, and have all this potential. So I think the the ability to really make this such a long, you know, series is pretty much infinite. So I will say,

Chris Spear:

when I think having the historical record of it, I mean, in every walk of culture, you know, like, there's books that were published at the time that were duds, and like, 300 years later became a bestseller, or, you know, painters who weren't popular at the time until long after they were dead, not that your show is not going to be popular, whatever. But I think you know, you're kind of going on record having these interesting, informative conversations that even if people aren't listening to now, you know, they'll be around for a while, and maybe people pick up on it at some point. Hopefully, it won't be 300 years after you're dead.

Unknown:

Yeah, I think like you hit the nail on the head that one of the things one of the statistics that always like blows my mind is like, everything that we do is basically recorded at this point, like and will live forever. And the internet. Like, that's a really mind blowing thing. Like your, your legacy will live on way after you, your children and your family. Just because we're in this age where like, this will be done. You know, when I wrote a cookbook, I remember holding it like my first cookbook. I remember thinking like, this is now a legacy. Like, when I'm gone, this thing will still exist with my name showing that I made a mark on the planet. Like for me, legacy now is become greater than chasing currency.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, it is wild. Like I have a I keep everything like every time I'm published in a magazine, I keep a copy of that, like, every time I'm on a podcast, I download it. And it's not like a vanity or an ego thing. It's just like, I think it's really cool. Especially I want my kids to have that stuff. Like I have so few things from my childhood and my parents, like, you know, we go on vacation and take three photos. Like I took 15 photos of my breakfast today, you know, like, I have like two pictures from my eighth birthday and maybe like four from my 12th and that's it. And it's like, I just love the documentation. I'm hoping at least my family will see some of that stuff, you know, when I'm not around anymore.

Unknown:

100% and like that's that man. That's so cool. And that's the stuff that that's why I always encourage people to tap into that creative side of them. The world needs more We live in a needs more community. You know we need to come together and start like banding together and being like, hey, like check out this podcast check out this restaurant. This isn't a spirit of competition. This is a spirit of unity.

Chris Spear:

Well, that's not the good stuff rises. You know, I always get annoyed almost like when the mainstream stuff continues to be mainstream when there's amazing stuff like I'm a huge snob when it comes to like music and movies and shows like when people are listening to like pop music that in my opinion is not fantastic. You're like, how have you never heard these bands? like can I give you a list of like 50 bands to go listen to right now? instead of like that, whatever song One more time on the radio. The same? It's the same with food a little bit. It's like, how do you not know these people? Let me put it out there. which is which is why I always ask who's someone who's super underrated that you want to shout out? Like who do who does everyone need to know about?

Unknown:

I don't know if this person's necessarily underrated. They might be they might be not on the radar of the Western community a bit. But Chef chipton from dematha in New York City is somebody I love to shout out. Like we've become friends over the course of you know, the the good old Instagram. I was really lucky to be in New York three months ago, and dined at dhamaka. And, yeah, I mean, I gotta say, like, I keep coming back to him. And saying, like, what this guy is doing like, is just so important. This guy didn't put a chicken tikka masala on the menu. He's this amazing Gujarati man, who is an incredible chef, putting out food that I didn't know all of the stuff that was on that menu, small menu humble with some of the best flavors. And just it lived up to its name, and the name means explosion. So it's like, I can't wait to get back there. Can't wait to cook with him can't wait to host him at aatma. Like anything that I'm able to do. He's just a source of inspiration and just a great human being.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, that's the kind of people I like shouting out, because I really don't think most people know who he is. Well, do you have any words of wisdom before we get out of here today?

Unknown:

Yeah, I guess I'd leave everyone with. I think, you know, throughout everything I've done in my career, throughout everything that I've been able to do, I think the most important thing I've, the best investment I've ever made is me. And, you know, we live in a time where a lot of us are going through so much still going through pandemic, going through division in our country and all of these things. I think, let's not lose, let's not lose sight of that. We're all people. We all want the same things. We want to succeed, we want to be there for our families, we want love, we want affection. If you're struggling with mental health, please reach out to somebody, it's the most important thing you can do because this world needs you. So take care of you internally and externally.

Chris Spear:

I think those are wise words to leave the show with so I really appreciate that. I love talking to you. I feel like we could have so many more conversations. And this is just scratching the I don't know, I was gonna say scratching the tip of the iceberg. Is that right? Like it Let's go, you know. Yeah, but I really I really appreciate you taking the time coming on. I've loved talking to you. I've really enjoyed our time. You know, we didn't talk about but being on clubhouse this past year, I've been in rooms with you, it seems like you know, five days a week, sometimes. So getting to know you there a little bit. And hope I can have you back on the show at some point. Oh, please.

Unknown:

Thank you, man. And congratulations, you are doing an amazing job. And I'm so so so glad you're killing it. Oh, thanks.

Chris Spear:

I really appreciate that. And to all of our listeners. This has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. As always, you can find us at Chefs Without restaurants.com and org and on all social media platforms. Thanks so much and have a great day. Thanks for listening to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. And if you're interested in being a guest on the show, or sponsoring the show, please let us know. We can be reached at Chefs Without restaurants@gmail.com Thanks so much.