Del Sroufe’s cooking career began when he was just eight years old; creating dishes from whatever he could find in his father’s kitchen. By age of thirteen he was flaunting his culinary talents by preparing family dinners, much to his mother’s delight. After high school Del shelved his love for the kitchen and sold men’s clothing while he attended The Ohio State University School of Business. Selling suits and ties did not polish Del’s wing tipped shoes so he set out to pursue his passion, cooking. He landed a position at one of Columbus, Ohio’s premier vegetarian restaurants, The King Avenue Coffeehouse, and began to establish himself as a leader in the industry. In 1997 Del opened his own bakery, Del’s Bread, where he created, prepared and served delicious vegan pastries, breads, potpies, calzones, smoothies and other sorted delicacies to the palate of his Columbus based clientele. In 2001, Del transitioned from his bakery business to start a vegan Personal Chef Service, preparing eclectic plant-based cuisine to his already captivated audience. During this time, he developed what became a very popular cooking class series, sharing many of the delicious recipes he had created over the years with his students. In 2006, Del joined Wellness Forum Foods as Executive Chef, where today he continues the tradition of delivering great tasting plant-based meals to clients locally and throughout the continental United States. Del continues to teach cooking and health classes and is a keynote speaker at local venues and events around the country. Del is the author of Forks over Knives: the Cookbook, on the New York Bestseller list for more than 30 weeks; Better than Vegan, the story of his struggle with weight loss and gain, and how he managed to lose over 200 pounds on a low fat, plant based diet and; The China Study Quick and Easy Cookbook due to be published in May of 2015.
Caryn Hartglass: On this program, I always like to say, “Tune in love.” It’s all about tuning in love here as we’re tuning in live, right. And the next part of the show is really, I think a great example of tuning in love, and you’ll understand in a minute. I was going to have Leanne Campbell on the program to talk about “Global Roots”, her total health conference, and at the last minute she couldn’t make it, and she got two wonderful people to take her place. And the first one is Del Stroufe. Are you here Del?
Chef Del Stroufe: Hello Caryn. How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Hi! How are you? I’m great.
Chef Del Stroufe: I’m great.
Caryn Hartglass: So I wanted to continue with this theme, “Tuning in love”. Here you are, you’re doing… you’re helping out Leanne at the very last minute, and that’s great teamwork, and, and lovely.
Chef Del Stroufe: Well, I’m a big fan of Leanne Campbell, and Campbell family in general, so I’m glad to do my part, especially as I help them to spread their message of tuning in love, and creating a healthier world through a compassionate cause.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well I have this goal to have the entire Campbell family on my show. I like to have dynasties on my program, and we have a few vegan dynasties.
Chef Del Stroufe: Yeah, this is a good one, isn’t it?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! I can’t believe that… well, we’re going to be talking with Dr. Campbell in a little bit, but, he has wonderful children, and they’re all doing great things for this plant based world.
Chef Del Stroufe: Yeah. I would love to say, you know I love my family, but if they were helping me in that kind of supportful, supporting way I would definitely feel some heavy love.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! Heavy love! I like that! Okay, I’ve told you this before, but when I think of you, I think of all the great things you do with cauliflower that people don’t really think cauliflower is for.
Chef Del Stroufe: Yeah. I know right! I think cauliflower is the magic food. As much as kale! I know I get in trouble everytime I say that; kale and sweet potatoes are up there, but man I can do some fun things with cauliflower.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. So I get an online, not an online delivery, I get a weekly delivery from a company called Go Organic NYC. We just got our delivery today. And I got a little cauliflower in it. What should I do with it?
Chef Del Stroufe: Mmmmm. Well, I’m always going to tell you to puree it. Although, have you seen lately, they’re doing cauliflower pizza crusts. So they’re kind of grating it and using it as a pizza crust. But I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t speak to it. But I’ll tell you what, I make a cauliflower cream sauce, and just like any traditional cream sauce, you can do with it what you will. So in my Forks Over Knives cookbook, there’s a spinach and sweet potato lasagna, and so I made a spinach cream sauce using pureed cauliflower, a little bit of pine nuts, spinach, thyme, some shallots, and garlic, and the flavor is amazing, and it has that rich, creamy mouthfeel but without the dairy. And in a world where I have to say people are kind of lery of tofu, I’m a fan of tofu, and I think that in moderation it is a perfectly fine food, but in a world where people are lery of tofu, here’s an alternative that also puts another vegetable on the plate. Right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I like that. You know we just jumped in here, and I didn’t really give any background to who you are, although I want to think that everybody out there knows Chef Del Stroufe, but we’ve had him on the program before. He is the author of Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, and also Better Than Vegan, and you’ve also lost a lot of pounds, and I’m wondering, how’s that going these days?
Chef Del Stroufe: It’s going… It’s up and down. It’s going well right now. Winter’s always hard for me, and I’ve been working on… I worked for years on just getting the diet right, and I’ve done well at that, but part of being healthy overall and being a healthy individual is dealing with the total package. And so for me, as someone who grew up on binge and yo-yo diets, and was an emotional eater, and I’m going to talk about that at the Global Roots Conference, being an emotional eater had other consequences; it sort of came to the surface, and I’ve been working really hard, and I’m really happy that I’ve at least come to the level of consciousness to at least do so, but working hard on my emotional eating, and it’s paying off. So I’m on track, which means I’m losing weight again, and at a slow and steady pace, and I’m happy to be where I’m at.
Caryn Hartglass: Good, that sounds good. All right, let’s just talk a little bit about this Total Health Conference, because that’s one of the reasons why Leanne was going to be on the program, and one of the reasons why she’s not today, because I understand she had to run down to the Dominican Republic?
Chef Del Stroufe: Yeah, getting ready for that, it’s a big event. And you know, my first time there was in October; I did four cooking classes over the 8 days, and helped oversee the food and everything. And it’s at a beautiful, beautiful resort, but there’s a lot that goes into it because putting on a program like this in a country like the Dominican Republic takes a little bit of give and take. In other words, it’s not… they don’t have all of the same kinds of tools there that we have here, so I’m sure planning that takes a little bit of effort every time on her part.
Caryn Hartglass: I was curious about that, because I was remembering just before this program started, and I was thinking about what we were doing to be talking about, I did some food demos in Brazil for the International Vegetarian Congress, maybe more than 10 years ago, I’m not sure when it was, and you now, I put some recipes together that I liked, didn’t really think much about it, and sent off my grocery list, and I show up in Brazil. And they didn’t have some of the ingredients that I thought were just normal! And I don’t even remember what those are anymore, but quick thinking on my feet. What am I doing in this food demo when I don’t have all the ingredients?
Chef Del Stroufe: I had the same encounter in the Dominican Republic at, and let me say this, at a beautiful resort that is absolutely seems like it has just everything you would ever want. But a couple things that I ran into, is they didn’t have, you know the kitchen was used during a large production deal. So the basics of pots and pans, they do everything by weight, they didn’t even have measuring spoons, so I’m doing a baking demo, and I couldn’t even measure my baking powder, my spices out for that, I had to guess. Luckily it all turned out well after 26 years of being in the kitchen. They didn’t have… you won’t find silken tofu in the Dominican Republic. You might if you go to Santiago if you’re in one of the major cities, but we’re in a resort on the north coast. So we had to do a little bit of give and take, and make it work, and it did. It did.
Caryn Hartglass: I visit Costa Rica from time to time, and there’s… it’s hard finding dark leafy green vegetables there. And it’s a little more popular in certain locations, where the “gringos” unfortunately are taking over, and they demanded, and they grow some on the organic farms. But I was wondering, what’s the green scene in the Dominican Republic?
Chef Del Stroufe: You know, we didn’t see… here we start making salads out of every kind of green imaginable, from baby kale, to the mixed greens that you find in Oak Leaf and all of those. You don’t see so much of that there. You see a couple of basic things that they have on hand. But I didn’t see like chard, and they have they’re own greens, and they actually have some produce I’ve never seen before. I actually got to go to an organic produce stand up in the mountains, and I… the person who was our guide that was with us, kept buying and feeding us these unusual fruits and such, and I was in heaven trying all these new things, but if it came down to if I wanted to get a kale salad, you weren’t going to see that as readily. You had to really arrange that ahead of time to make that happen, so. But what they did have was, the traditional diet down there is a very starchy diet, so they ate bananas everyday for breakfast. I had some sort of a… I forget, a mashed banana, a mashed green banana, and then lots of squash, and sweet potatoes and things like that are very abundant there.
Caryn Hartglass: There are some fruits that taste like sweet potato that are, you don’t have to cook them, it’s like they’re already cooked! And they’re just like a fruit!
Chef Del Stroufe: Oh wow! Well I was amazed at how much like a potato, and under-ripe banana tastes like when it’s boiled then mashed. It was a lot like a potato. You could probably feed to some people who may not know the difference.
Caryn Hartglass: And there are lots of different kinds of bananas. We just see one kind here and there are more bananas that probably taste more like potato because they’re starchier.
Chef Del Stroufe: Right. Yeah I’m sure that’s the case, and you’ve seen a few in some of the organic stores like the small red bananas that you see and such, but I’ve heard the same thing, that there are tons of different varieties out there that we never see. And that’s typical of the American diet, when we travel abroad I think that the exciting thing is to open up your taste buds, and to embrace what you, what is new to you, because we get the same old thing here, and I kind of like a little adventure in my eating, and welcoming new experiences and new taste buds.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I agree. You know nature’s going, may actually make us have more varieties, at least in terms of the banana. I’ve been hearing this for decades that the Cavendish banana is not going to be able to survive much longer, because there are these viruses going around that are not going to maul out, so we’re probably going to see more different kinds of bananas. Which would be nice.
Chef Del Stroufe: I heard that too. I do a banana in my smoothie everyday, but the truth be told that if you were eating more like a bio-regional kind of way, I could get my potassium from plenty of sources that are more sustainable like potatoes and such.
Caryn Hartglass: And have more potassium in them!
Chef Del Stroufe: Yeah, right! So I mean…
Caryn Hartglass: Bananas had some great marketing group behind them with the potassium because they do not have the most potassium.
Chef Del Stroufe: Oh yeah. Right? Nope. It’s really true.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Chef Del Stroufe: So I would miss my smoothie, I’m sure I would find something… I don’t know if I would put a potato in my smoothie but I would miss my banana, but I think life would go on.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. So now just tell me quickly before we move on to Dr. Campbell a little bit about this conference, what it’s all about, and where people can find out about it.
Chef Del Stroufe: So basically 8 days. 8 days of really sort of immersing yourself in health. From standpoint of cooking, and good food, the food is amazing, very very healthy. So all your meals are provided for you, and they’re all really clean, healthy, lots of fruits and vegetables. And then the education. So bringing in great minds like Dr. Campbell to reiterate for us, what the science is telling us, and what the most recent science is telling us about the whole foods, plant based diet. Some fun excursions. They have a beautiful botanical garden. There’s a wonderful school that the Campbells support that we go to visit. And, so you get see some of that. And a beautiful resort! So you get all the rest and relaxation you can imagine right on the ocean on top of it. It’s a really… And I met some wonderful people! Let me say this, people that I met, I’ve made new friends on the first trip that I was there, and look forward to making more new friends again of like-minded people is a really amazing thing to do. To be a part of.
Caryn Hartglass: I was looking at the schedule really quickly and one thing that I saw was that it’s not packed from morning until night with speakers, which can get really really tedious. It’s stretched out…
Chef Del Stroufe: Well there’s plenty of time to exercise. There’s plenty of time to stretch out on the beach. Afternoons are yours. You can go on some of the excursions or not. And so it is wide open. And so most of the education happens in the morning. There’s a q and a right before dinner, and then there’s dinner, and then you’re free in the evening. There’s plenty of music down by the pool in the evenings if you want to go down and dance and do all that kind of stuff. But yeah, it’s not like you’re having this packed in so you’re exhausted at the end of 8 days. It’s all about taking care of the entire being and getting some rest too.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay Del, well thanks for coming on the show, just in a matter of minutes. A last minute thing I really appreciate it, and I’m definitely going to open one of your books to make my cauliflower tonight, cause you’re the cauliflower king.
Chef Del Stroufe: Awesome. Great talking to you. Yes. Make it happen. Nice talking to you Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Take care!
Chef Del Stroufe: You too. Bye-bye
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Bye-bye. Okay that was Chef Del Stroufe.
Transcribed by Zia Kara, 2/19/2016