Single Man's Kitchen grew from a series of newspaper articles I wrote while a partner and chef in a restaurant, bar and hotel in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.
I was the only man in the kitchen and learning to cook at 7,000 feet (2100 metres) from the little old ladies who worked there before I arrived, hence the name as a byline.
Shopping at the local markets every day, I got back into the habit of using only fresh foods, and upon my return the Houston, Texas, found myself falling deeper and deeper into the farmer market system.
More than a decade later, I have continued to rely on my local farmers for personal chef events, farm, winery and brewery dinners.
The facebook page (www.facebook.com/singlemanskitchen) has over 13,000 photos of the food from over the last 14 years, and 7,000 followers.
I am currently working on the first of 8 cookbooks, a YouTube channel and the possibility of a restaurant in Houston.
Part of the journey down the road to local, seasonal and healthy eating has been to develop my own line of salt and sugar free spice mixes, kitchen aprons that actually work and even knife designs. Some of the products developed are available on the store page.
This is an excerpt from a magazine interview a few years back.
-How did you get into this and when/where the idea originated?
Single Man's Kitchen was based on a series of articles I wrote for Aténcion, the bilingual newspaper in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.
I was partner and chef for a restaurant, bar and small hotel in San Miguel, and the editor at the paper asked me to write a column. It turned into a body of work, and the name of the column was used as a working title for the production of my own TV show.
Yes there has been interest in the TV show concept and I have turned down a high 6 figure offer from a group representing TLC, mainly because they wanted me to become Gordon Ramsey 2.0. Unfortunately my kitchens are usual quiet places, full of concern for taste, texture and aroma, and I believe the only food you can make when you are mad, is bread, so it was not going to be a good experience and I turned them down.
> -Where did you learn to cook?
The glib answer is all over the place, but really there were three main components. My first ever food job was a brief stint as a short-order cook in an Italian coffee shop in a town outside London. After that my education was based mainly from feeding myself in strange countries as diverse in food as Norway and Greece, often learning the local way of doing things.
The later component of my education was working for various catering companies, and filling in for missing kitchen staff at restaurants.
Diving into someone else's menu in the middle of Saturday night service is difficult thing to do, but I always thought it great fun.
> -How has your concept grown since you launched SMK?
The concept has evolved to embrace sustainable, better than organic standards of food. I also deconstruct a lot of the recipes to make them approachable for the home cook, especially cutting the preparation and cooking times down significantly. I can spend hours caramelizing onions, or stirring a sauce, but I can teach you how to get similar results in 15 minutes.
> -The coolest thing that's happened since you started SMK?
There are so many, but a recent one was backstage at a Fleetwood Mac concert when Stevie Nicks was eating one of my duck egg crème brûlées and said, "I could eat one of these every day for the rest of my life, and for two weeks after I am dead."
> -How many recipes in your repertoire? (Or better yet, is there anything
> you can't cook??)
I have lost count of the recipes I cook, but I have about 600 written down, mainly to go into the cookbooks that become the scripts for the TV shows.
There are lots of things I cannot cook, or will probably never learn to do, like lutefisk, or grits. You have to be able to taste what you are serving, and I just cannot put those things in my mouth. It always fascinated me how there are chefs cooking steak and chicken who are professed vegetarians. It doesn't seem right.
> -Where's your favorite place to food shop?
95% of all my food comes from local farmers, and mainly from farms I have visited to verify their practices. The rest is herbs and spices from both local and international sources.
The local farmers I buy from frequently have become my friends over the years and I even provide them with starts for some things I want in particular.
> -Who do you most like to cook for?
I really enjoy cooking for people who are excited about and appreciative of my efforts, but ultimately the person I am cooking for is myself. I love it, it is a way of relaxing and meditating for me, and if I make a mistake I can eat the evidence.
> -How important is the garnish or plating in the SMK?
There are two answers to that, as I am a great fan of the visual, but each part of the plate should contribute to the taste of the whole, so in my professional capacity I can meet expectations, but personally and for the SMK project, I try to keep it to a minimum. The focus of the project is to make things that other people can duplicate without too much effort or potential for failure. Yes I can make something to go on the front cover of a cooking magazine, but I don't really consider that the focus of my style.
> -Your favorite recipe to teach the single man?
Without a doubt, spatchcocked chicken. It is so easy to roast a good chicken in an hour without basting and you can make the spices under the skin whatever you want: My favorites are honey, cilantro and soy sauce, or garlic, sage and thyme.
> -Best advice to the single man kitchen novice?
Ask questions. It is very easy to learn 4 or 5 techniques for producing tasty meals quite rapidly and you never learn without asking, and I learn what I need to teach by listening to the questions.
> -Do you offer private lessons--or offer private cooking for someone
> trying to woo someone?
I have done both private and public teaching, and given talks about food, food sources, nutrition and preparation, but I enjoy working with small groups most.
I love working with one person who is trying to make a date night magical. The trick is to design a menu where I can beat a hasty retreat should things go too right or horribly wrong.
> -What about for guys who only like to grill?
Living in Texas, I would say, "Learn to BBQ!" Seriously though, cooking is by definition the application of heat (we will ignore ceviche), and if you can cook it on a grill, you can do it on a stove top or in the oven. The results will be different but you don't get rained on.
> -What dish does the lady in your life love for you to make?
I actually asked that question, as I did not know the definitive answer. After a lengthy discussion it was a toss up between lamb rib chops with a portwine and mint reduction sauce, roast potatoes, and sautéed rainbow chard, and the crème brûlée. However I am perfecting another dish that may topple all the others, a variation on a Japanese version of sea bass steamed in sake.
> -And what's next for you--good to mention in a summer issue?
I never know what is next, just what I am working on. I am trying to complete the first of the 8 planned cookbooks, get trademark releases and secure funding for the TV show, while entertaining some restaurant projects.
What I am really aiming for is a small, reservation only, BYOWine that is set up so we can shoot the TV show as well.
In the meantime I will continue doing the fund raisers for urban farms in Houston food deserts, a little personal chef work, farm verification and some limited seating pop-up events.