This month, our cover is graced by Michelin starred Chef and Restaurateur, George Mendes. We talk about his restaurant Aldea as well as his pop up concept currently at Chefs Club Counter in NYC. In addition, we interview 4 x NBA Champion, John Salley to talk about how he came to basketball, his forray into the wellness and health industry as an investor and gifting for Father's Day. We also interviewed Celebrity Fashion Stylist, Brad Goreski to talk about his style inspirations, summer's perfect accessory, being a Co-Host on E! Live from the Red Carpet and his thoughts on the Met Gala! We also interviewed, fitness icon, Denise Austin about being an innovative in the industry, her success with her shows and what she is currently focused on. In addition, as our third year of being media sponsors for PRIDE, we included imagery from PRIDE ISLAND with performances by Madonna, Amara La Negra, Teyana Taylor, Grace Jones and more. In addition, we have a number of our monthly features showcasing athleisure culture.
Read the June Issue of Athleisure Mag.
For many people losing weight is synonymous with restriction and sacrifice. In an effort to acquire the body of their dreams, patients obsess over every calorie and cut too many corners, leaving their body starved and tired. Dr. Niket Sonpal, an NYC Internist and Gastroenterologist, tells us malnourishment is not the key to a healthy lifestyle and could be the “gateway into difficult health problems.”
Dr. Sonpal, who is an Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and Associate Director of Brookdale Hospital's Residency Program, says, “Starving yourself is a technique that quickly backfires on patients. It can cause ma ss to be stored, water to accumulate, and hormone imbalances, among other things. If we aren’t careful about our nutrition and our weight loss, we can end up worse than when we started.”
Hunger is defined by bodily sensations ranging from mild pains in the abdominal region, headaches, mood changes, a decline in energy or light-headedness. These sensations signal the body’s instinct that it needs to replenish energy by consuming food. Biological cues arising from hunger inform the body of what to how to operate some of its essential functions to adapt to your circumstance. Remember though society has evolved tenfold since the first Neanderthals roamed the earth, our biological instincts are still quite similar, and hunger is at the center of how our body assesses its ability to survive. Simply put, if our body is not receiving the energy it needs, it will adapt its functions to survive what it perceives as hard times. During this adapting period, we can undergo mild to serious health implications that run contrary to our overall goals of losing weight and improving our health.
Here are 6 Major Reasons to Refrain from Starving Yourself and what to do instead:
Prolonging your body’s state of hunger regularly and for extended periods can cause your system to slow down your energy expenditure during periods of rest. Your Basal Metabolical Rate dictates how much energy your body burns in order to fuel your essential bodily functions while at rest. In the absence of regular and consistent nourishment, your body may begin to store energy, often in the form of fat.
Many people get caught up in an unhealthy obsession with calories. While calorie counting is sometimes necessary to get rid of stubborn fat and techniques like intermittent fasting can help people jumpstart their metabolism. Studies show that for people who are already obese or lack muscle while packing excess body fat, extended periods of hunger can worsen their situation.
To avoid going down the path of starvation and fat storage, start to slowly and sustainably build a schedule and regiment that has you eating high volumes of low calorie and low carb foods. Vegetables and lean proteins are your friends. Instead of eating two or three huge meals, space them out throughout the day with space for small healthy snacks that keep your energy up throughout the day.
Stress and Bingeing
Hunger and stress have an interesting relationship. People come in a great many varieties, and they react to stress differently. However, it is common for stress, in short doses, to decrease appetite. Prolonged stress, on the other hand, can lead people to binge-eat, especially if someone has developed the habit of food-for-comfort over time. Hunger, prolonged periods of fasting, and eating disorders can increase the body’s production of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. This can make you moody, anxious, and uncontrolled. Stress also inhibits our ability to control our appetite, often leading to overconsumption of calories. Once your system becomes overwhelmed with stress, you break, and the result may very well be binge eating.
Instead, focus on eating as healthily as possible without sacrificing the fulfillment of feeling nourished. If you have a craving for sweets or some treat, navigate the situation reasonably. For example, if you are a fan of chocolate, as many of us are, treat yourself to a piece of dark chocolate after dinner. Dark chocolate is an excellent way to get a taste of cocoa without overdoing the sugar. As for your cortisol production, don’t revolve your entire life around dieting and counting calories. Take time to run outside and feel the sun. Working out is a natural stimulant of endorphins, the hormones that help us feel good. Endorphins are also helpful in helping relieve stress and pain.
Your Calorie Intake Helps Dictate Your Calorie Output
As previously mentioned, our bodies burn calories daily to cover our essential bodily functions while at rest. Reducing calories in an extreme way can reduce the number of calories you regularly burn in an extreme way also. This makes it more difficult over time to lose weight, maintain weight, and remain lean. This is especially true for people who are predisposed to having a hard time shedding pounds, such as postmenopausal women and people with a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity.
Instead, focus on the quality of your calories. 200 calories of broccoli will not affect your body the same way as 200 calories of ice cream. Giving our bodies an appropriate amount of food at an appropriate amount of calories is key to our metabolic health. The best way to cover our bases on the calorie front and on the hunger front, meaning fulfilling our energy needs while still satisfying our hunger is to eat foods that are high on nutrients, fiber and vitamins.
Hydration is key to your health
In their incessant battle for an “Instagram-worthy” body, people concentrate overwhelmingly on the solid foods they eat and very little on the liquids they drink. Needless to say, our bodies are dependent on water to help keep them regulated, hydrated and refreshed. If we are dieting like madmen while drinking sugary drinks, dairy products, and alcohol all the time, we are essentially counteracting everything we have accomplished at the gym and the dinner table. In other instances, people forget to drink water leading to dehydration and water retention.
Drinking ample amounts of water is also an effective way to send signals to the brain, informing it that you are not on an empty stomach. Drinking water before a meal has been shown to effectively decrease the amount of a person consumes once they sit down to eat.
Keep in mind water is extremely useful in keeping your digestion working properly.
Fiber is your friend
Fiber is a useful tool for staying regulated and healthy. Fiber is interesting because, though it is a carbohydrate, the body is unable to dismantle the nutrient to convert it to a simple sugar molecule. This results in Fiber passing through our gastrointestinal tract accomplishing many beneficial tasks to help us with our diet and health goals. Fiber is a healthy way to increase fullness hormones in the body. For many people who have built up resistance to this hormone, called leptin, this becomes more beneficial as your body becomes leaner and you become healthier. Fiber also helps to keep you full and it shows up in a variety of foods from fruits to vegetables to grains. The versatility of fiber means it is easy to work it into your diet without a lot of stress. Fiber helps fill you up as well without the risk of it staying and accumulating in your body to be processed into fat.
Opt for healthier choices that are rich in fiber, as opposed to processed and sugary drinks with little nutritional value. Because of where fiber is found, odds are the foods you eat to incorporate it into your diet will be full of many other vitamins and nutrients that will help keep your body healthy.
The term “starvation mode” is incredibly common and if you confess your fasting weight loss methods to a caring friend or family member, odds are they will mention starvation mode as a reason against going hungry. You may be tempted to roll your eyes and ignore the advice, but your loved one may be right. When we are constantly hungry, skipping meals and only feeding our bodies with one or two big meals a day, even if the meals are mostly healthy the body will do everything it can to store as much fat and nutrients as it can. This is especially true if you eat at inconsistent times of the day. Why? Because the body’s biological clock does not know when its next meal will come and how big that meal will be. So while you go hungry, your body grows anxious and looks for ways to compensate for the insufficient and inconsistent way with which it is fed.
To avoid starvation mode, make sure you are eating consistently and snacking on something natural and healthy between meals. Make sure to never skip breakfast as it jumpstarts your metabolism. Breakfast is also a signal to the body that its overnight fast is now over. It helps to keep track of the times you eat and make an effort to stay relatively consistent when it comes to your eating schedule. This will help alleviate some of the body’s anxieties about being left without food until further notice.
Read the latest issue of Athleisure Mag.
‘Health’ and ‘gastronomy’ used to be mutually exclusive concepts, but if one major trend has marked the new millennium, it is the passion for healthy, Mediterranean-style delights made with free range meat, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and of course, Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Such is the passion for colorful ‘slow food’ dishes that Business Insider recently heralded the big boom in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine across the U.S. Diners want flavor, but they don’t want it at the expense of an expanding waistline. Check out three newer health food trends that will ensure that you look as good on the outside as you feel on the inside.
If you thought that grazing and sticking to a healthy diet were impossible, think again. It’s all about what you choose to serve on your trays, and this year, the spotlight is on organic, zero-kilometre fare that can be shared in a group. Think an ample-sized tray of mezze, comprising various MiddleEastern delights such as kefta, chicken skewers, kebby, labne, hummus, and taboule. Note that the trays contain some fried items, but also fresh salads made with nutrient-packed ingredients like parsley and freshly chopped seasonal tomatoes. Grazing tables are the perfect opportunity to serve local products. Shared cheese platters, Mediterranean salad bars, or Middle Eastern bites go well with both wine and craft beer. As noted by Arizona restaurateur Ryan Hibbert, the key to keeping a grazing table exciting is to surprise your guests with homegrown delicacies they may not have known existed.
Spanish celebrity Chef Ángel León (whose restaurant in the Coastal area of Cadiz boasts no fewer than three Michelin stars) is largely responsible for major discoveries of the potential of seaweed. The Chef has not only discovered new culinary species of plankton and algae, but also managed to incorporate them into traditional spanish dishes. How does a plankton paella with ali-oli tartar sound, for instance? The passion for seaweed is taking over the U.S. as well, with Whole Foods having recently announced that it would have many more sea-based snacks (including vegetarian tuna and seaweed butter!) Seaweed not only lends itself to different textures and food types, but is also super rich in vitamins and nutrients like iodine and tyrosine (which support thyroid function). Seaweed also contains a plethora of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that age you prematurely and cause disease.
It’s summer, and that means one thing: everyone’s screaming for ice-cream! Forget about flavors previously considered nouvelle, though. Salty caramel, watermelon and Kinder Surprise take a backseat. America is ready to tuck into newer varieties such as avocado, hummus, and of course, yuzu - the cumquat-like fruit used so often in Japanese cuisine and cocktails. There will also be more refined citrus flavors available, including tangerine and blood orange.The plethora of new combinations is very much in line with other top trends. Diners who dream of traveling the world can now do so, at least gastronomically. They can also rest assured that what they are consuming contains much more than just sugar and dairy. Rather, ingredients such as olive oil will be used to add extra creaminess while boosting your Omega-3 intake.
Light grazing, seaweed delights, and power-packed fruit and veggie ice-creams are just a few new food trends that pay respect to health as much as to flavor. Simplicity and a passion for Mediterranean-style munching are in, as is the penchant for world flavors that differ subtly from local fare. Finally, zero kilometre cuisine continues to hold sway, which is very much in line with renewed interest in healthy, organic cuisine that hasn’t traveled many miles to make it to your table.
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With the NBA Finals upon us, we wanted to make sure we had an eatery on your list where you can pop in to catch your favorite team as we wonder who will win between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. 40 Love opened in October 2018 and is an "Upscale Country Club Concept Sports Lounge." The space is filled with dark wood, lush greenery and white brick that resembles a classic American country club.
While there, guests can enjoy giant plush booths and over 25 flat-screen TVs. This neighborhood sports bar is good to cheer on your team or simply to grab a bite to eat with your friends.
Founded by John Terzian and Brian Toll of the h.wood Group, 40 Love is a premier destination for everyone from locals to travelers to sports figures and Hollywood's elite. Inside, it's a lively hangout to catch the game with friends, in addition to an elevated space and ambiance, that is playful in nature and is vintage in décor.
You can head to a lush greenery outdoor patio with drinks for a game of shuffleboard, plus have a variety of bites and drinks to choose from their full cocktail menu, shareable plates, late night menu options, and brunch on the weekends.
We suggest that whether you're enjoying 40 Love for the summer or during gameday, menu highlights include Waygu Hot Dog (Maui Sweet Onions, Sautéed Peppers, Mayo and Banana Peppers), Chicken Wings (Lemon Pepper, Sweet & Spicy, BBQ, Buttery Buffalo or Hot) and their Western Bacon Cheeseburger (House-Blend Smashed Burger, American Cheese, Bacon, BBQ Sauce and Crispy Sweet Onions).
When you're ordering a cocktail, we suggest, Degrassy (Wirgina Black Whiskey, Cynar, Lemongrass Syrup, Angostura Bitters and Lemon), The Hard Sell (Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica, Lemon Demerara and Mint) and Mully's Cup (Plymoth Gin, Pimm's, Strawberry Tincture, Peychaud's Bitters and Lime).
PHOTOS COURTESY | Elizabeth Daniels
829 N La Cienega Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90069
We head back to Las Vegas and swing by Greek Sneek, a festive restaurant and bar serving fresh, authentic Mediterranean cuisine and cocktails at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. We sat down with Executive Chef William DeMarco to talk about his culinary background, restaurants that he has worked at and their signature dishes.
ATHLEISURE MAG: You’re the Executive Chef of Greek Sneek. We also know that you are the Corporate Executive Chef for all of Morton Group, which includes Greek Sneek, CRUSH, La Cave, La Comida and MB Steak, which are all located in Las Vegas. Tell us what your culinary background was prior to coming to the group as well as what your role as a Corporate Executive Chef is with so many restaurants under your belt?
CHEF WILLIAM DEMARCO: I was introduced to the restaurant industry at an early age, as my family owned a neighborhood pizzeria in Long Island, New York. I spent some time in the kitchen, which sparked my love for the culinary field. I began my culinary career in Brooklyn working for renowned chef, Sam DeMarco, and eventually worked my way up to executive chef for several of his restaurants. In 2005, I relocated to Las Vegas, and worked for a few different restaurants on The Strip including Aureole, inside Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, and The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas, before becoming Corporate Executive Chef for Morton Group.
I now oversee the food programs at Greek Sneek and CRUSH at MGM Grand; MB Steak at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino; La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway at Wynn Las Vegas; and La Comida located in Downtown Las Vegas. My day-to-day responsibilities include maintaining the highest of standards in servicing guests, overseeing the restaurants’ chefs and food preparation, scheduling and staffing, as well as menu development, using my culinary expertise to craft new, inventive dishes with fresh ingredients.
AM: For those who have yet to attend Greek Sneek, what can one expect in terms of the ambiance, dishes, etc?
CHEF WD: Greek Sneek is tucked away down a hallway reminiscent of the maze of narrow streets in the old country. The entryway passes through the wine room before opening into a 2,000-square-foot white brick barrel-vaulted dining room. The main dining room features an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven for baking fresh pita bread and Saganaki. The dining room is flanked by a full bar which accommodates ten guests for dining or toasting “Opa!” with a glass of Ouzo. A private dining room on the opposite end comfortably seats parties of up to forty people. Greek Sneek’s menu is inspired by authentic, traditional Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, including hummus, Mykonos salad, gyros and more.
AM: What are signature dishes that we should know about at Greek Sneek?
CHEF WD: For starters, the Mykonos Salad and baked feta are some of our most popular dishes. The Mykonos salad is our rendition of a Greek salad, made with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, green peppers, barrel aged feta and Greek olives. The baked feta is a reimagined caprese salad with a Greek twist, made with roasted heirloom tomatoes baked with fresh feta cheese.
Our lamb gyro is also one of our most popular items, made with fresh pita, red onion, tomato and tzatziki. End the meal with our house made Greek yogurt, served with huckleberry compote and honey.
AM: Greek Sneek is located at the MGM Grand can you tell us the meaning behind the name?
CHEF WD: CRUSH (neighboring Greek Sneek) always had a “hidden” ramp located on the side, which served as an alternative entrance to the restaurant. When the concept of opening a Greek restaurant adjacent to CRUSH was forming, we decided to use the long, narrow ramp as the main entrance to the restaurant, and played on the “sneaky” aspect, deciding to call it Greek Sneek.
AM: What are 3 signature cocktails available at Greek Sneek?
CHEF WD: In addition to our signature Greek and Mediterranean dishes, we also offer a selection of specialty cocktails, Greek wines, beers and Ouzos. Three of our signature cocktails, all made with Greek spirits, include the Greek Freek, made with Don Julio Blanco, Skinos Mastiha Liqueur, fresh lime juice and middle cucumber; the Mediterranean Mule made with Ouzo 12, Shrub & Co. Peach, coldpressed watermelon juice and Fever Tree ginger beer; and the Adonis, made with Metaxa 5 Star, Om Meyer Lemon & Ginger Liqueur, fresh lemon juice and Aromatic Tonic.
AM: If there is anything else that we should know about Greek Sneek, let me know!
CHEF WD: Greek Sneek is great for any occasion, including private parties and special events. Available for full or partial restaurant buyouts, Greek Sneek seats 120 guests or up to 40 guests in Greek Sneek’s private dining room. Greek Sneek offers happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., and includes wines by the glass, sangria and select beers, priced at $6; and flatbreads, priced at $11.
Read the May Issue of Athleisure Mag and see The Art of the Snack | A Greek Feast for the Tastebuds in mag.
The Czech Republic is one of the countries in the world with the highest beer consumption. It is more or less like a norm in this beloved country. According to history, beer in Czech can be traced back to the 6th century. It is impossible to see a town in the Czech Republic without a brewery.
You can hardly see a citizen of Czech Republic who doesn’t indulge right from his youth. If you don’t believe our word, just take it from Jaroslav Hašek’s beloved book The Good Soldier Švejk, where he said that if a government raises the price of beer, they are likely to collapse. Probably, that’s why beer is almost as cheap as water!
However, if you are beer lover, you should definitely consider a trip to this amazing place in central Europe. Besides beer, Czech Republic, or Czechia, offers amazing landscapes and historical sites in the cities or Prague and Brno, for example, or Pardubice, where in October happens the horse racing event Velká Pardubická. For now, settle your horse, because if you came here for beer, you came to the right place.
Here is our top 5 of Czech beers.
A world-class award-winning black beer with a refreshing taste that will blow you out of the water. It is very common among the people of Czech, both the local and rich. It has about 4% alcohol level making, so it is a moderate beer which can be enjoyed by everyone. The name “Kozel” is a result of its looks and appearance. It has a thick foamy look and it has been around for a while since the 18th century. If you are in Czechia and you have not tasted this amazing beer, then you know you’re missing out.
Yet another wonderful beer with a refreshing taste. It is not as old as the former, as a matter of fact, it is a young beer which has however gained image for itself among the beer lovers. Matuska makes different types of beers. One of our favorites is the Gold Racket beer with a moderate alcohol level of 7%. Made with fruits which makes it much different from normal conventional beers in this cherished nation.
This is another type of beer most people indulge in Czech. Most especially the old folks as it is one of the oldest beers around dated back to the 15th century and is original from a village with the same name, in the region of Liberec. Still widely distributed across every town and city in the whole of Czech. It is definitely a kind of beer one should try as it is quite different in taste when compared to recently produced beers. It is a good beer which has been in existence for a fairly long time and still hasn’t lost its value among beer lovers.
Unlike normal conventional beers with an alcohol percentage of 5% in the Czech, Svijany has an alcohol percentage of 6.5% which makes it unique. You will have to take it easy if it’s your first trial. Good luck!
A great beer brand which has been around for a while (16th century). Not as old as the former but we can say it is also one of the oldest beers producing brands in the Czech Republic. However, some time along the line, Bernard witnessed a change in management which led to its transformation in every aspect as well as the way the beer was made. If you are searching for a kind of beer that has a strong and bitter taste, try Bernard beer.
5. Pilsner Urquell
Saving the best beer for the last. Pilsner Urquell is also an award-winning beer brand. As a matter of fact, it is one of the premier lager beers in the whole of Czechia and is sold around the world. It is original from the city of Plzeň, who besides being known for beer is also a marvelous place to visit.
Still, the Pilsner beer is served in every single bar across every city in the Czech Republic and tourists normally love it. It is normally produced with water and malt into barrels. However, in 1993, it witnessed a turnaround where it begun to be produced into cylindrical bottles following the trend. It has an alcohol percentage level of 5% like most beers and it is still being served everywhere in case you want to indulge.
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On May 10th, we had the pleasure of attending La Nuit En Rose which is a cruise that sails on the Hudson River. During the 4 hours of this event (2 hours docked and 2 hours at sea), you enjoy an array of rose wine vendors, bites and music. It’s a great way to kick off the summer while rocking white and pink to commemorate the day!
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Sugar cravings are a formidable opponent to anyone trying to stay on a nutritious path. Sugar cravings can attack in the middle of the day or night, and it takes the will power of a comic book hero to say no to such temptation. But what if we can identify and address the underlying reason why we feel such a need for sugar? New York internist and gastroenterologist, Dr. Niket Sonpal who is also a faculty member at Touro College of Medicine says, “If more people could learn to pinpoint the reasons why they experience sugar cravings they would have better tools to avoid breaking their nutritional goals.”
Here are Dr. Sonpal’s 7 Ways to Conquer Sugar Cravings
Drink water; you might be dehydrated.
Many people mistake thirst for sugar cravings. “We know that we want something fresh and cold and we usually identify that with sugary drinks,” says Dr. Sonpal. “When our bodies have a deficiency in fluids, it can’t efficiently breakdown glycogen, and this causes the urge to consume something sugary. In reality, what you need to do first is drink water and observe how you feel,” he explains.
Try to Decrease Your Sugar Intake Gradually
Scans have shown that sugar fuels every cell in the brain. “Our bodies view sugar as a reward. But too much of a good thing is not good at all in this case. By partaking in overconsumption of sugar you are reinforcing your body’s need for that reward, essentially becoming addicted to it,” explains Dr. Sonpal. But like many addictions, it is not a reasonable or sustainable strategy to quit cold turkey. If you feel as though you are out of control or moody without your first soft drink of the day or until you have a piece of chocolate, you need to consider slowly draining your system from that need for sugar.
Rethink social habits that drive you towards sugar
Many of us have social rituals during our day that help us destress amidst countless tasks and meetings. “If you have a standing ritual with a friend or coworker of eating a piece of cake after lunch every day or running to the coffee shop on the corner to get the most sugary caffeinated iced drink you can find, rethink those social behaviors,” says Dr. Sonpal. Try to put something else in place that is healthy but rewarding.
Evaluate your protein intake
Many famous diet plans like Paleo, Vegetarian, and Keto seek to reduce sugars in your food. Sometimes a good way to kick your sugar cravings to the curb is having some good ole’ fashion protein. “Protein reduces the speed with which your body processes sugars and in turn helps you need lower amounts to experience that reward. Eggs, black beans, broccoli, and chicken are really healthy ways to get that protein in to quench that yearn for sugar,” suggests Dr. Sonpal.
If push comes to shove, pick fruit
There will be times when your craving for sugar will be exacerbated by the stress of the day or however many days you’ve gone without consuming it. You may feel like you can have a cheat day. According to Dr. Sonpal, “Your best response to a worsening need for sugar is to eat a piece of fruit. If you get to a point where you feel frustrated, instead of eating processed sugar, eat fruit. Fruits are sweet and have natural sugar that can address your sweet tooth without throwing out your entire effort,” says the NYC gastroenterologist. With the fruit, you will get added vitamins and fiber.
Fiber is your friend
Fiber helps clean out your system, and it is processed more slowly by the body. Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer effectively reducing your craving for mid-meal snacks. “Many people will be very deliberate with their decision to reduce sugar in their meals but will ultimately cave in when their body needs a snack because a lot of the snacks we have in our pantry have sugar in them. Fiber and lots of water would help you stay full for longer periods,” Says Dr. Sonpal.
Observe your consumption of starch
Starches like white rice, white bread, pasta are complex carbs that the body process as simple carbs. They end up affecting the sugar levels in your body and feeding into your need for sugar as fuel for brain activity and energy. If you have cut out processed sugars but continue to eat an abundance of starches, then your next step is to progressively reduce your consumption of those foods as well to clean your system of the need for sugars.
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Who doesn’t love ending a summer day with a refreshing spritz. A few days ago, we had the pleasure of celebrating the season with Lillet with an option between their Rosé as well as their classic Blanc dessert wine. We enjoyed this served over ice as well as having it with club soda and having the option to add our choice of strawberries, cucumbers and other garnishes. Adding a few appetizers to this cocktails was another way to get us into a full state of summer.
You can enjoy a Lillet Rosé Tonic with the following recipe:
In the serving glass, place:
5cl of Lillet rosé
10 cl of tonic water
1 slice of lime
Preparation: Pour 5cl of Lillet Rosé into a glass full of ice cubes. Add 10cl of tonic water and a slice of lime.
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With Memorial Weekend around the corner, it marks the first unofficial summer holiday as well as Summer Fridays - the ability to get out of work right around your lunch hour! Each Thursday, we’re going to share great places to go to enjoy a drink or a few bites. We suggest Barn Joo which is known for their Grumpy Hour which are midday specials at this Korean Barbecue spot located in Union Square as well as in Midtown. The other day we enjoyed garlic and soy chicken wings as well as potato croquettes. This not only hit the spot but paired well with their house rose for a great bite before we continues on throughout our day.
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Earlier this month, we had the honor of sitting down with one of our culinary faves at NYC's The Kitchen Table in NoLita with Gail Simmons. In addition to her role at Food & Wine Magazine, she is also known as a judge on BRAVO's Top Chef. We talked with Gail about her journey in food journalism, the importance of working throughout the food industry to gain invaluable knowledge of professional kitchens, Top Chef history, food diversity, how she maintains calm when planning for guest arrivals for food celebrations, key ingredients in her kitchen this Spring, where we can find her shopping in Brooklyn and more!
ATHLEISURE MAG: So tell us about your background and how you came to work in food journalism?
GAIL SIMMONS: It’s sort of a long story and I have always started with a love for food. I graduated from college and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career and everyone else seemed to know what they wanted to do with their degree out of college. All I knew was that I loved to cook and I loved to write. But back then, that wasn’t necessarily a one plus one equals two situation. People were just starting to cover the food world. The term food media back then just meant writing for a handful of magazines or a couple pages of newspapers and there wasn’t the kinds of opportunities that they are now. But I knew that cooking was my passion and so I got a job first as an intern in a magazine and as an Editorial Assistant in a newspaper as sort of a lifestyle food and travel section. I realized that in working everyday around all of these different subjects that food is really what I am more interested in. Then I was given this really great piece of advice that anyone can write as you can practice on your own and that’s what you have editors for, but if you want to differentiate yourself and really make a mark in the food world then you really need to understand the professional kitchen and learn to cook.
So I picked up, packed up and moved to NYC and went to culinary school and from there I worked in a few really tough, but incredible professional kitchens as a line cook and always with an agenda that I wanted to write about it and knowing that I never wanted to be a chef in a kitchen full time. When the time was right and I had a lot of experience and felt that I really understood how to cook well properly with a good foundation, I moved back into writing first with Vogue Magazine as an Assistant to the Food Writer and then for a chef doing events, marketing and PR all sort of learning around the events of the restaurant industry in every different aspect of what it takes to work in the food industry. About 15 years ago, I landed at Food and Wine Magazine and I’ve sort of been there ever since.
AM: That is a journey and what was the moment while you were on this food journalism track that you realized that you wanted to enhance your brand and make that jump into TV as well?
GS: I didn’t actually. I never ever consciously thought, I want to enhance my brand as a personality – the word brand, was never in my language or in my purview. I never thought about going on to television it was always about writing and publishing for me back then – 14 years ago. I did a little bit of food television in my early days on behalf of Food & Wine because often morning shows would need someone to talk about recipes, wine trends from the magazine or what we were doing for our spring issue ,so I was the one that would often go on because I had the cooking and marketing background to go on and be able to do cooking demos and to talk with the anchors and the hosts. So that sort of became what I did for the magazine and about a year into my job at Food & Wine, BRAVO came to Food & Wine with this idea of a reality show about the lives of professional chefs and they wanted to call it Top Chef and they wanted to partner with Food & Wine to teach them about the world of food and cooking and in exchange, they would put one of their editors on the judges panel and so they screen tested me and asked me to do it and I have been doing it ever since. I never meant to do it, I never sought it out, but we also certainly never knew that it was going to be a hit show and that it would last this long. We’re going into our 17th season and it doesn’t seem like it is going to be slowing down.
AM: We love your authenticity and in doing the research to chat with you, it was amazing to see how many areas of this industry that you have touched to immerse yourself in this space. Clearly this is why you can speak about so many aspects of it due to your knowledge.
GS: For me, everything I did up until now, and what I continue to do, feeds into my experience and my knowledge. I don’t think that I could have ever gotten the job on television had I not done all of those things. I think that being able to speak to the real life of professional kitchens, which is what our show is about – we want to speak fairly and honestly in a constructive way and understand the work that chefs do. I think that you need to have a working knowledge of that to come across to your audience not only as authentic, but in a way that the audience of a show can identify with you because the audience can’t taste the food. You really become the taste buds for your viewers and I think that all of the work that I have done and before leading up to Top Chef helped prepare me.
AM: What led to you creating cookbooks and what is that process like for you when you’re making them?
GS: I think that these days, cookbooks for me was a very natural offshoot for everything that I do and finding a place where all of my favorite recipes could live that shaped me and make me who I am and recipes that I have learned and brought home from my travels that have become staples in my household and I wanted to just share those with everybody because I am asked for them so often. It was a great opportunity to put them in one place.
The process was rigorous. It took me 2 years to write my most recent book. 2 years is sort of par for the course and sometimes it can take many, many more. From conception to publication, so it was an all encompassing process. It was so much work in every aspect – testing, developing, testing, rewriting the recipes, editing etc. Writing all the head notes, the introduction, making sure that they are accurate having someone else retest for that accuracy. I really wanted to make sure that every recipe in the book not only sounded delicious, but was absolutely attainable for everyone to make at home.
AM: That’s intense. Going back to Top Chef, we have had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Brooke Williamson and Chef Richard Blais previously in Athleisure Mag as well as on Athleisure Studio’s podcast network show – Athleisure Kitchen. What is it like for you as a judge to be on Top Chef? What is the process like for you and how do you get yourself prepared for those moments that are taking place?
GS: I mean we have been making this show for so long that we have gotten it down to a science. It’s a great process though as we have a great crew that has worked with us for so many years and everyone really understands what every episode takes. So we’re a pretty fine tuned machine. I would say that the most important part of what I do is balancing - being constructive and fair with the challenge that is being presented every episode and making sure that I am speaking to that challenge and what all the different chefs that are doing. The great thing about the show is that we travel to a different city every single season so I always do a little research about the place because the location is going to inform so much about the cooking, the ingredients and the history. You know, the history of Charleston is going to be different then the history of Boston which is going to be very different than the history of Kentucky or California. I think it really plays a role and is what differentiates our show from all others.
AM: It’s also so inclusive to food diversity from a geographical standpoint. This season’s Top Chef was in Kentucky and one of our Co-Founders is from Indiana and many of the recipes that were made this season were also indicative of areas she grew up in and which allows audiences to connect from that standpoint as well.
GS: Exactly there is a lot of food overlap and that is what makes our show so fun. You don’t have to be a great cook to identify with loving food or understanding the history of this country. Food plays such a great role in that and in our families in the way that we eat, the way that we go out, the way that we celebrate and we try to stay true to the locations that we go to.
AM: How would you define, your style of cooking?
GS: I think my cooking is spontaneous and changes with a season. I’m a mom and I think my food has changed a lot since I became a mother. I want flavor and I want it to be healthy and easy to make because I don’t want to give people recipes that will take them 3 days in the kitchen and I certainly don’t have time to dedicate that. So my style really calls from all of my travel experience and my childhood which has a lot of influences. People always ask me, “what’s your favorite thing to cook?” I never have one favorite thing, it always depends on the time of year, where I traveled to last, the ingredients that I am most excited about and then ways that I go about organizing them and being the most efficient in the kitchen to get the most flavor by doing the least to the great quality of food that I have.
AM: Because you have done so much in the food industry, are there other projects that you would love to be a part of that you have yet to tackle – but would want to?
GS: I think there are so many things. There is so much travel that I want to do and I think that giving back to the community that helped me for so long is really important to me and there are so many ways to do that right now. Cooking is such a life skill, so not only does it nourish people, but it teaches people to translate that skill into a job anywhere where they are. Certainly, there are so many things where food applies to our lives, whether it’s politics or math and science. Teaching my child to cook, you become some conscious of that and so just teaching is always in the background for me, whether it’s through books or in television championing my industry, and giving back to my community through all of these different channels is always top of mind and there are always more things to be done.
AM: With Spring being here finally as we see the leaves on the trees – there are so many Spring holidays coming up and reasons to just come together just because. What are some trends taking place in the kitchen that we can incorporate right now into our dishes just to change things up?
GS: I think that Spring is just the most exciting moment in the year because we have all just been in hibernation for so long and I got real cozy with lots of soups and stews over the winter but I am ready for bright new ingredients. I am really excited about bringing all of those fresh herbs, fresh flavors, different fruits and vegetables into my diet that I haven’t been able to get all winter long. But I also want to be efficient with what I am cooking and because there are holidays in the Spring where you are cooking for a crowd often of all ages with family and friends with Easter and Passover – you really want to optimize your time in the kitchen. My entertaining strategies are always about finding recipes that you can be organized with and prepare as much as possible with in advance, so that when guests do arrive you’re just doing the minimal to get food on the table so that you can spend time with them.
AM: People come by unexpectedly sometimes. What do you suggest that we should always have in our fridges so that we can ensure that we are always ready as sometimes you never know when Auntie May comes by!
GS: Yes and there’s nothing to eat – it’s true! I mean I think with a few simple ingredients, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, there are ways to use them so that you’re picking ingredients that are versatile. A few products that I love are having lots of fresh herbs in my fridge and lots of citrus as they can be added to lots of things from pasta to cottage cheese. They can be turned into so many things in so many different ways. Or even eggs that they can go on top of. I love keeping good quality dairy products as they are always in my fridge. As I said, herbs and citrus, cheese, eggs, and then as much fresh ingredients as possible. So if you have salad greens or you have a few key bowls of berries, you can make 100 different things. Breakfast for example, is a time where I feel that people run out of ideas. There are a ton of things going on in the morning or if you’re entertaining in the morning there is a lot you have to do so quickly. If you have people over for brunch for Easter for example, if you can think a little ahead of time – you can make a really beautiful statement with minimal work. One thing that I always advocate is big batch cooking. I love making granola for example and I make it a week in advance in a big batch that I can eat throughout the week and I can have it as my go-to to put on top of things in the morning. Or just eat it as a handful to grab and go as a snack. When you have granola and some fresh berries, granola in the fridge and cottage cheese, then there you have the perfect protein packed, versatile and easy breakfast parfait that looks great and beautiful for everyone.
AM: When you are planning for 8-10 people that you know are coming for a dinner party, people get overwhelmed with the idea of tackling this – what do you do?
GS: I always make sure that I make my list and be organized. I can never underestimate how important that, is especially when you have guests arriving. Try not to do too many things and remember that you can ask for help. I think that people forget to do that. If I’m having people over, I want to think 2 days out about what I can do and then 1 day out, what I can do. Sometimes that feels daunting – no one has 3 days to make a meal, but I’m not talking about major cooking. Just marinating your meat in the morning so that 8 hours later when you cook it, it has all that flavor that is already done. That’s just 20 minutes in the morning and then you’re ready to cook as soon as guests arrive and it’s the same when you’re making your dressings in advance if you’re making a salad. I love making bowls – grain bowls for example, so doing things like making the dressing in advance, washing the lettuce, if I’m using quinoa or another grain like that – cooking it in advance really takes 15 minutes and then it’s cooled and ready to go and it’s in your fridge and all you’re doing is really assembly.
AM: What are 3 ingredients that you always have in your kitchen that are really good for versatile dishes?
GS: I would say that right now it’s fresh herbs, lemons because I use every part of the lemon from the juice to the zest and Hood Cottage Cheese because I feel it is the most versatile dairy product that I have that everyone loves and you can do so many things with it.
AM: Do you have some recipes for those of us that are busy and running around that are easy to satisfy and easy to make as well?
GS: One recipe that is my go to because it’s great for lunch, it’s great for a snack and it can feed a crowd and it’s easy to batch it up for 10 people or to just have a personal bowl of when I need something that is healthy and really satisfying – I make a really delicious Mango Avocado Salsa. Lots of lemons, lots of lime juice and lime zest and fresh cilantro tossed with fresh mango and avocado and I put it on a base of Hood Cottage Cheese with Black Pepper in a bowl. My little trick is I always make a little well in the center of the cottage cheese using the back of my spoon and I pile all the salsa right in the middle so that when you’re dipping you’re getting a little of both and you’re not searching for one ingredient or the other. I find that it’s a great after school snack for my kids, it’s a great appetizer for a dinner party or the perfect quick lunch for me on the go and it really doesn’t require many ingredients.
I talked with you about the grain bowl which is another one to make in advance and then the granola that I make all the time for breakfast for parfaits. Because if you have some fresh wash berries in the fridge, you can have your granola that you made before and all you have to do is layer it on together.
AM: Are there other ways that cottage cheese can be used beyond what someone would think is their “traditional” use?
GS: I think that cottage cheese is having this renaissance moment because people are rediscovering it from their childhood. First of all, it’s packed with protein which is a bonus, it can be used the same way that you use other dairy products. I love it in smoothies, I can use it in place of ricotta for pasta and lasagna. My kids love it and my little baby loves it for breakfast in the morning. It has texture and a rich creaminess and it's a great item to have around.
AM: You’re based here in NYC, where can we find you working out, grabbing a meal/cocktail and shopping?
GS: In NY the options are endless and I live in Brooklyn – I love my neighborhood. It’s a quiet treelined neighborhood in Brooklyn. There’s a lot of great places to eat nowadays. I’m really obsessed with eating at a lot of places with fresh little small plates and a glass of wine so there’s a great wine bar close to me called June that I love and another wine bar with great food called Frank’s Wine Bar. When I’m in downtown NY, where we are today in NoLita – I love eating at a little Middle Eastern spot that has really fresh fast casual food called In the Dez, it’s delicious and right up the street. That’s where you can see me grabbing food.
Working out - now that the nice weather is out, I can pick up running again. I love running, but I don’t like running indoors so winter is kind of out for me and I take a break from running. But I live near the Brooklyn Promenade so running from my house to the Brooklyn Bridge is sort of my go to run when the weather is nice. If not, then I’m a spinner so you can catch me at SoulCycle.
And shopping – what kind of shopping?
AM: Well whatever, whether it’s for clothes or food – it’s so open!
GS: I mean, that’s a tough one! Shopping – I’m shopping for lots of things all the time! Let’s see, I love Veronica Beard for clothes, she’s a great designer that I wear a lot from these days. For food, what I love about my Brooklyn neighborhood is that it’s so old school in that instead of going to big huge grocery stores, there are small shops so I have my local butcher that I love, there is an amazing Middle Eastern store that I get all of my spices and things like pita and fresh bread and things like that. I’m at the regular grocery store buying all of my pantry items too.
AM: Your makeup is always great and you have great skin. As someone who travels a lot, what are 3 skincare products that you use?
GS: I have really dry skin so traveling definitely takes a toll. But I am also someone that doesn’t use 50 products a day because I’m someone that has to get up and go and I am always in a rush. So 3 products that I love my under eye I believe in helping as much as possible because tired is real. I’m a big fan of Drunk Elephant Vitamin C under eye cream that I use all of the time. There is a really beautiful store here in NYC and there is another in Boston and in a few other locations possible in DC, and It’s called Follain that has the most non toxic products from body to face to make up and hair products that are not only good for the planet, but with ingredients that are pure and all natural – so I use a lot of their products. I love Naturopathica skin care. I use a bunch of their products – I love their Daily Moisturizer and there’s this Body Balm that I absolutely love OSEA. They carry it at Follain so I get it there, but I initially got it as a gift and I’m obsessed with it. I love the smell, it’s rich and luxurious and really a great natural and beautiful skincare product for your whole body.
AM: You’re very busy. How do you take time for yourself to just recharge and disconnect?
GS: It’s a hard thing to do and it requires actual carve out time on the calendar for sure. Working out and clearing my brain is really important. I have to force myself to do it, but for me, it’s not about losing weight as obviously staying healthy is important. It’s about clearing my head and destressing because I know I will feel better at the end of the day if I can. I love that I live in NYC and I don’t have a car and that I can walk everywhere as I find that therapeutic. Cooking is also something that lets me relax at the end of the day. There is nothing that I like more than anything at the end of the day, relaxing with friends where I can sit around the table and I can cook for them and destress and really connect with the people that I love the most and that to me is taking a great time for myself. Once or twice a year, I like a really good massage and date night with my husband is also nice every once in awhile! We forget to do it, but when we do it’s always important.
You can hear this interview with Gail Simmons May 3rd on our show, Athleisure Kitchen, which is a part of Athleisure Studio, our multi-media podcast network! You can hear it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and wherever you enjoy listening to your favorite podcast shows.
In this month's The Art of the Snack, we're focused on where one goes when it's after work! Whether you work from home, co-working locations or an office, we all need to grab drinks and have great bites after work - even if you're Friday starts earlier in the week! We make our way to Therapy in Las Vegas which is exactly what the doctor would prescribe. We get the scoop on this American Gastro Pub from Executive Chef Christopher Robyn.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Prior to coming to Therapy, what is your culinary background and how would you define your style of cooking?
EXECUTIVE CHEF CHRISTOPHER ROBYN: Prior to joining the Therapy team in spring of 2018, my career has taken me to very different areas of food & beverage, giving me multiple styles of cooking. I spent time in New Mexico as the Corporate Executive Chef for the Apache Nugget Corporation, specializing in Native American and Spanish cuisine; I have worked on the Strip as a sous chef at New York New York Casino & Hotel; and I have also worked in Asian cuisine as the Corporate Chef for Bachi Burger.
AM: For those who have yet to attend Therapy, when did it open, what can one expect in terms of the ambiance, dishes, etc?
EC CR: Therapy is an American gastro-style pub that has been thriving in the Fremont East Entertainment District since June of 2015. This restaurant elevated downtown dining with its ambient class, while constantly finding ways to combine unique flavors of great food and drinks.
AM: What are signature dishes that we should know about at Therapy?
EC CR: Signature dishes, that have proven to be customer favorites, include our fried mac & cheese croquettes, served with house-made tomato bacon jam and Sriracha aioli; and our red velvet chicken & waffle sliders, served with house-made coleslaw and vanilla maple syrup.
AM: What is the meaning behind the name, Therapy?
EC CR: The name of the restaurant, Therapy, stemmed from the slogan ‘Good Food. Good Friends. Good Drinks.’ By putting these three components together, one could create its own kind of Therapy and good food, good friends and good drinks are a way to release stress.
AM: What are 3 signature cocktails available at Therapy?
EC CR: Three signature cocktails we serve include our St. Therapy, the Relapse and The Smash.
AM: If there is anything else that we should know about Therapy, let me know!
EC CR: At Therapy, we truly have something for everybody. Not only do we offer lunch, dinner and happy hour, we are launching a new weekend brunch and our new club concept, Relapse. If you are in Downtown Las Vegas, Therapy is a must stop spot.
This month, Cochon555 returned to NYC at Weylin in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to present an epic food competition that pairs 5 local chefs, 5 heritage pig farmers and 5 sommeliers together. The chefs each have one whole heritage breed pig. Each year, Cochon555 has competitions in an array of cities. At the end of the season, the chefs that won each city compete in Chicago in order to be 2019's winner of the Grand Cochon. Since 2016, Athleisure Mag has been a proud media sponsor of this event as we're all about sustainable eating as well as being introduced to the chefs creations as well as supporting food vendors that participate in this event.
This event begins with a judging round where this year's judges included an array of food professionals that included Brady Lowe (founder of Cochon555), sommeliers, a member of the International Culinary Education, foodie personalities and even our Co-Founder/Creative + Style Director as well as Co-Executive Producer/Host of Athleisure Kitchen.
This year, Kimberly Plafke of (Executive Chef of Grand Army Bar/paired with The Piggery - Mulefoot), Christina Bartloli (Executive Chef of Gelso and Grand/paired with Spring House Farm - Large Black), Garrison Price (Chef and Culinary Director of Cafe Clover/paired with Autumn's Harvest Farms - Berkshire), Allan Walker Hodkin (VP of Culinary of The Grey Dog/paired with Dogpatch Farm - Mulefoot) and Seungjoon Choi (Executive chef of Hortus/paired with Debragga, New York's Butcher - Gloucester Old Spot) competed.
The Somm Smackdown was comprised of Anna-Christina Cabrales (General Manager and Beverage Director of Morrell Wine Bar), Wei Liu (E&J Gallo WInery), Stefanie Schwartz (Olmstead), Betsy Ross (L'Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue) and Kristen Goceljak.
In addition to the judging of the tasting meal, there is also a panel of judges who select a winner from the Punch Kings to see who the top mixologist of the night is. Fellow foodie enthusiasts have the opportunity to try the foods that are created at this event which includes 1,500lbs of heritage breed pork whether they have a general admission or VIP ticket.
A portion of all sales will benefit Cochon555's sister charity, Piggy Bank.
NYC's winner for this leg's Prince of Pork, was Seungjoon Choi of Hortus, the winner of the Somm Smackdown was Anna-Christina Cabrales, General Manager and Beverage Director of Morrell Wine and Maison Pickle was the winner of the Punch Queen.
PHOTOGRAPHY | Paul Farkas
Any day can be Taco Tuesday as it's an essential way to get through the week and to enjoy good vibes with friends. With an array of locations, Taco Dumbo is a market fresh tacqueria and cold-pressed juice margarita bar inspired by the healthy lifestyle where beach, surf, and sun are synonymous with fresh local food. Known for creating positive vibes environment where guests can relax and escape by enjoying a selection of food and beverage that transports you to Southern California.
A number of their favorite dishes and beverages include responsibly sourced ingredients with a personal touch to design a delicious menu that suits all eating styles. Food inclusivity is woven into the menu that provides options for meat lovers, vegans, vegetarians, kosher, dairy-free, or gluten-free diners.
Signature dishes off the menu include truffle shroom and rotiserie chicken "tinga" to beef short-rib and nori spicy tuna tacos. Their chef has created a plant-based "impossible" taco which pairs easily as a side to options that include grain bowls and salads.
Fresh ingredients are essential as they are locally sourced and elevate the drink selection to guests. Recreating a spin on a refreshing margarita includes six different options of pressed juice and nine different types of salts to the rim.
With a cantina feel that includes neon lighting, interesting decor elements that can include swinging chairs, pink phones and other quirky elements, its look creates a vibe that fuses food and fun together. Taco Dumbo has a number of locations in Manhattan that provides Southern California's vibes while also being about to have their own aesthetic in the neighborhoods that they are available in. In addition, each restaurant is ideal for having lunch, grabbing a drink after work prior to going on about your night as well as to make it a great after work party spot.
On today’s Athleisure Kitchen, we head downtown in New York’s NoLita neighborhood to The Kitchen Table to sit down with Food & Wine as well as Top Chef judge, Gail Simmons. We talk about her food journey and the array of jobs that she took on in professional kitchens to understand the industry in order to be an effective food journalist. In addition, we talk about her unexpected transition into being a TV personality, how it’s like to prepare for being on the show as well as what’s currently in her kitchen as we continue through the Spring in making new dishes, welcoming guests into our homes for Spring celebrations and what key ingredients are in her kitchen for this time of year!
Check out the latest issue of Athleisure Studio for additional episodes.