I Love Tacos – Springfield Missouri

What a name! I love tacos too, and when I kept seeing my foodie friends posting on social media about a new taco shack in town, I had to see for myself. This particular food shack is close to the Springfield airport so remember when flying in or out, stop by for a treat! But make sure you have plenty of time, because this shack stays busy!

This Taco Shack Moves a Line of People at Lunch Time In and Out

Off of Chestnut and Hwy 44 you will find a taco shack called “I Love Tacos – Taqueria” and be ready for an experience! You walk into a little alcove where a lady greats you and asks what you would like to eat. There is a menu to the left, and a specials board to the right. Along with house made Horchata and an array of Mexican Sodas. I was very impressed that after I ordered my food, they gave me a fancy beeper to let me know when my order was ready, sweet! (you can chill in your car till your food is ready)

I can’t help myself but to get excited when I hear about new food, especially when it is authentic Mexican Food. I grew up on the Border of Texas and Mexico in Brownsville as a youngster and am very spoiled when it comes to good authentic Mexican Food. I order a Pork Tamale, Chicken Sope, Al Pastor Taco, Asada Taco, & a Breakfast Burrito. I might or might not have brought a beer with me to pair with this border town treat. They have a Green Sauce which is out of this world great! This is their mild version of salsa, but it definitely packs a punch. The red sauce is the spicy version, and definitely has some heat to it, but tons of amazing flavors.

This is the good stuff – The Green is Spicy – The Red is Spicier

I am so excited to tell you about the Al Pastor Taco that I can’t stand it!!! So there is something you need to know about Street Tacos, if they don’t come simple with some fresh cilantro and raw onions and simply a side of fresh lime, it isn’t a real street taco. This in my opinion was the best thing I tasted that day! The seasoned pork was absolutely a firework show in my mouth! I squeezed the fresh lime on top of the hot freshly grilled meat, and dove right in. I did not add any red or green sauce because I wanted to taste the full flavors of what this taco shack was cooking with, and you don’t need anything else on this. Holy Guacamole Batman!!!!! I could taste the strong passion that this cook was trying to express. Not scared to take that sear to the next level, you could tell that they have cooked this dish thousands of times before. That my foodie friends is what makes a true master of their trade, repetition. This is the meat to order if you truly want to be impressed, the “Al Pastor – Seasoned Pork”.

Al Pastor Taco $2.00 – Best Thing on the Menu!!!

Now lets get into the “Asada Taco” which is the steak version. Now this was a very delicious option as well, but my favorite by far was the pork. The tender little seasoned chunks of beef topped with some fresh lime juice and the red spicy sauce was a match made in heaven! You seriously can’t go wrong with the tacos, as the name says it all. A Modelo Especial would pair brilliantly with this bright taco!

Asado Taco $2.50

Now it is time to go onto one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, this is a very sacred treat to me, the tamale or as this shack refers as the “Tamal”. I absolutely love tamales! I will have to admit my favorite kind of tamales is a Salvadorian Tamale wrapped in a Banana Leaf because they are so wet and melt in your mouth good, but I also love and appreciate all kinds of tamales. The thing I loved about this particular tamale was how much filling they applied. Not only is there an art to stuffing a tamale, but also a budget to keep in mind. Some places will skimp on filling to save on the bottom line, but not “I love Tacos – Taqueria”, no way! This meaty delicious treat was seasoned perfectly and had some fun chunks of stewed tomatoes that blended so well with the mild Mexican spices. I highly recommend the tamales!

Pork Tamal $2.25

Now I have to be honest, I had the Chicken Sope and it wasn’t my favorite. I don’t know if the oil needed to be changed it was fried in, or what, but it had a distinct twang to it. I would say if I didn’t have the tacos first, I would have eaten every bite of this sope, but since I started with the kings of the show, it was hard to force myself to eat a flavor that wasn’t as superior. Are you like me, and when you have such an amazing flavor on your tongue, you don’t want to alter loosing it for something not as delicious? The chicken and toppings were good, but I just wasn’t a fan of what ever that dough was fried in. I will try the sope again when I return, because I absolutely love these home made treats typically and like I said, it could have been simply that the fry oil needed to be changed. I didn’t get a good pic of this dish, I was so excited about the Al Pastor that I lost my track of thought, hee hee!

The Menu

I almost forgot, I also got the breakfast burrito. This thing was huge!!!! Chorizo and eggs with potatoes, what a treat! I will let you in on a little secret, don’t get cheese with this burrito. It just doesn’t need it, the chorizo is so rich and delicious, it just melts in your mouth and you would be trying to battle something, that you can never defeat. Don’t ask me what is in chorizo, because I want you to at least try it or continue eating it, lol. It is truly one of my favorite meats on this planet, what an extraordinary blend of fun spices like cloves, vinegar & cumin!!! You can easily come get one of these burritos and that is all you would need to order, for they are phat!!!

Breakfast Burrito $7.50

The special that day was a Hawaiian Torta which was – Ham, American Cheese, Pineapple, Grilled Onions, Avocado, & Mayonnaise. I am personally a fan of Pineapple on pizza, so why not on a sandwich 🙂 🙂 I didn’t have any room in my belly for anything else, but next time I return, I plan on trying the special of the day, what ever it may be, along with about 10 Al Pasto Tacos!!!!

Torta Hawaiana $9.75

One of my secret tips for this spot, don’t wear nice shoes!!!!! The parking lot is muddy and pools of water are everywhere. It is after all a taco shack on the outskirts of town, I recommend parking all the way to the left as your approach the shack and try and pull up on the concrete. This will save you from tracking mud and dirt in the car, but then again……..every time you look at that dirt, you will say to yourself……………I love tacos!!!!

Blogger and Chef Paul Allen

I blog about what I love to eat, I want to share my finds with you so you can enjoy them like I do. Life is about the perfect meal…………..then the next one – Chef Paul Allen


With Nonesuch Luck ~ The Band Has Officially Broken Up

As someone who has dedicated his entire life to food, I have one fear and one fear alone; to miss out on a flavor of times past even though it was in reach. I clearly remember the whimsical words that author Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit Magazine named the Best New Restaurant in America in 2018. One of the best parts is that OKC is only a four hour drive from where I live; this is wonderful for this Midwestern Foodie.

20 Seat Tasting Menu

Well, it only took 2 years for me to procrastinate and finally make a reservation. Two of my foodie friends from Springfield, Missouri; Chef Drake Tillman, Jack “The Man of Many Faces” McGee and I checked into our Airbnb just bubbling with excitement of what was to come.

Awesome place to stay – Block 42

We had all heard rumors of what Head Chef Colin Stringer was up to and we were fully on board to receive what he was offering. Talks of colostrum custard, a fermentation master called Paul Wang who gets absolutely crazy and outrageous with his unique masterpieces. Whispers of the best desserts on the planet made by Chef Jeremy Wolf who can turn a person who doesn’t like sweets into a lifelong fan.

10 Course Tasting Menu $110, but where are two important names???

We weren’t given a copy of the menu until the end of the meal, but it confirmed what we began to notice as the meal started; Paul Wang and Colin Stringer, a sous chef and the head chef, respectively, were no longer affiliated with Nonesuch. All of the accolades and accomplishments were done by the three of them as a team and now only one of the original three chefs is left, yet there are no stories about either of the two former chefs leaving the restaurant, nor is there any indication by Nonesuch on social media or their website announcing the news. We later discovered their general manager has also left the restaurant, although the service was in no way lacking.

Scallion Pancake

Before we can wrap our heads and mouths around what is happening out comes the most gracious and heavenly way to get us started. A chilled rose water towelette nicely rolled to refresh the senses. I absolutely loved this touch!

Then, out comes the first course and boy are we excited. The Scallion Pancake that looks absolutely beautiful and delicious and everything that we were expecting. Unfortunately, there was no steak knife presented to be able to cut this extremely tough piece of dough. To be fair we were the last seating at 8:30pm but let’s also remember this is only a 22 seat restaurant. Let’s also keep in mind that we are in the middle of an epidemic, but should that make your food quality any less? As we dig deeper in thought, if you are at 50% occupancy now there are only 10 seats available, yet they are operating with the same amount of staff they would have on a typical night. We counted around 6-7 staff at the time we were there. Despite this, my culinary comrades and I push through and try to appreciate the flavors going on, saying silent prayers that we don’t loose a tooth.

Nonesuch NA Pairing – $45

Before we go into the next 9 courses let’s get into something very positive and fun, the NA (non-alcoholic) Pairing. This was well thought out and very well executed, not to mention delicious and was easily the highlight of our journey to Nonesuch. Subtle hints of fermentation and expressive notes of everything lovely that grows from the Oklahoma dirt. The gentleman that was presenting and proudly responsible for these crazy mind bending concoctions was awesome and so entertaining. The definition of the word nonesuch is a person or thing that is regarded as perfect or excellent. I can say the NA Pairing lives up this this definition.

Spring Bean with Miso

The fermented miso broth had deep umami characteristics that just soared to ultimate heights flowing with the freshness of the local bean. As a farm to table aficionado I appreciate a simple dish like this. It was simple yet elevated with flavor pearls and edible flowers. The flavor pearls lacked flavor and were bland but it was a good idea. The beans were undercooked but I am assuming they wanted you to feel the depth of the fresh bean. This dish was ok, and gave me hope that the meal would get better.

The NA Pairing Keeps Getting Better

Every two courses we get a new NA pairing and this is exciting! Our steward of liquid treats was really working his magic and has a true passion for making memories through liquid fermentation.

Chicken in Jasmin with a Szechuan Broth

Now the third course I will have to say was one of the best cold chicken dishes I have ever had. The brined & marinated chicken was so full of flavor it would literally pop with juicy flavor crystals as you chewed. The broth was ok, but the chicken was fantastic! It was a gutsy move to serve cold chicken in broth but I will say it worked. You could also tell the chicken was locally raised, due to the flavor you can only achieve from small farms. My only complaint on this dish is I wish there was more chicken.

Tomato with Asparagus Sorbet

I will say this dish definitely had a lot of effort put into it and I do appreciate that. Unfortunately the best part was the fresh dill. The asparagus sorbet by itself would have been monotone, but everything together with the insurance of fresh dill made the dish okay.

Carbonara with Country Ham

Let me start off by saying on this particular dish that the 2 year aged country ham was divine! It had perfect crispiness and salt content and the pasta was cooked excellently. If only the flavors could have been more balanced. The sauce needed a bit more salt to tie it all together. The heat of the peppercorn was overbearing and stole the whole show leaving your throat a bit numb. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good simple carbonara but the flavors on this one were simply trying to compete with each other to see who is going to outshine, the peppercorn definitely won that battle.

Potato with Buerre Blanc

So this dish is exactly what it says it is, a potato with beurre blanc. I will say that the buerre blanc was rich and creamy and even had this heavenly cloud like texture that dissolved over the entire tongue. The saucier was on point that night, kudos. What happened to this poor lonely purple potato in my Nordic Bowl though? Not much flavor, they tell me it is smoked but I don’t taste any smoke. I cut open the potato to see if any magic fairy of flavor is going to sprinkle it with love but no, it’s just a regular potato. At least let that salt absorb into the cavity, or smoke it more heavily to give me a sense of something new. As a chef and food explorer, I just don’t think it is fair to put a bland potato and some sauce and call it a dish.

Japanese Milk Bread, BlackBerry Butter, Sand Plum & Herb

As you can see from the picture, this dish was gorgeous! Who wouldn’t be happy with that mosaic masterpiece of culinary art? The herbs popped with joy, but the bread was cold. It would have been so lovely if it was warm, but it wasn’t. It’s the little details that can truly elevate a dish to great heights or cause them to fall flat.

Dongpo Pork Belly

The pork belly was delicious! It melted in your mouth and had the buttery feel that pork belly should. If only it was three times the size! The squash blossom was not stuffed with anything and was literally a raw squash blossom with cold, barely pickled carrots and okra seeds. Maybe I am being too critical at this stage but I am not a huge fan of cold items with my meat. On such a small dish, and with such delicious pork belly, make it a symphony, not just a star of a show with some local items thrown on the plate. I get wanting to cut the fat with something but this didn’t work at all.

Herbal Tea Fizz with Honeysuckle Mochi

So this is the course I have been long awaiting. It has all led to this moment. Can the tea that Andrew Knowlton spoke of be true? Will this alter my life and make up for every other course that has been lacking? I take a bite of the honeysuckle mochi and it is simple and delicious. Nothing to write home to my mother about, but it is good. Now to get to the tea that I have been day dreaming about for years… I am so excited!

Even though everything has been a let down, surely the tea is going to be mesmerizing and blow my mind like Bon Appetit Magazine said it would. I cut my way through the frothy egg whites making my way to the liquid of the culinary Gods. I am almost there, and my heart is racing thinking of the tantalizing feeling I am about to embrace. I am there… my spoon touches the liquid and I slowly raise it to my mouth ready for the firework show to begin. As I taste the tea I try to trick myself into thinking that it must be at least kinda good. Nope, not one thing I can say was good about this tea. It was literally the worst tea I have ever tasted and I don’t even know why it was on the menu. I am sure there was a time when Chef Paul Wang had a story to match the flavor profile of the ever changing tea, and a time that they had foraged the actual ingredients. Well folks, I am sadly here to say, those days are long forgotten and the band has officially broken up at Nonesuch. 😦

Creme Fraiche Custard

The final course is upon us and I am very sad at this point, we are all starving, we know the curtain is closing and we have waited too long to come. If only this salted creme fraiche was mixed with the carbonara, possibly that dish would have at least been good. As you dip the spoon in the dessert and let it hit your palate the salty flavors make your mouth pucker and your mind wonders why they would season the dessert so much and not the savory food.

I normally don’t choose to write about restaurants that I don’t prefer, but this one has to be written about. It is not the same as when it was named the Best New Restaurant in America in 2018 by Bon Appetit Magazine. This is obvious when you compare photos of meals from 2018 or even 2019 and our meal. My prediction is something happened as it always does with partnerships and with the food world. I had to call the restaurant to get the scoop and see if they were actually proud of the food they served us all.

I confirmed that Chef Paul Wang left a year and a half ago and Head Chef Colin Stringer left about 6-8 months ago. I didn’t read any press release stating this, I didn’t read anything about any of this anywhere. So I did some more research scouring the internet and there is nothing! My immediate feeling is frustration, like I was tricked by the restaurant group that owns this establishment. Then my anger quickly turned to sadness, sad that I didn’t ever get to try the food when all three chefs were together doing what they love and having fun with food.

Jack in deep thought…

So, basically the chef that focused on breads and desserts is made head chef and is all alone. Yes, now he has 3 times the staff, but not the caliber they were working with in the past. I get it, he still wants to fight the good fight, he wants to take the opportunity to keep the legend of Nonesuch alive. I am sure he works more hours and has built fantastic menus, but it is almost two years later without the band, and it feels he is tired of making 10 course menus week after week. Maybe he is getting burnt out, you can tell he is a good cook, maybe he is just tired of trying.

Nonesuch Team in action 2020

My final thought, it only costs $110 for 10 courses, which I think is a fair price. We loved the NA pairing and highly recommend this amenity! I can’t recommend the wine pairing. I got the reserve pairing, which was more expensive for $80 and didn’t enjoy any of the wines, it felt like the purveyor of wine was offloading inventory and they got a good deal on them. If you live in the local area, come and enjoy but don’t come hungry, eat an appetizer on the way. If you are from out of town, and are expecting the best new restaurant in America, don’t wast the trip, it won’t live up to your expectations. If the old band ever gets back together please let me know!

By author, chef and foodie ~ Paul Allen

Drake Tillman, Paul Allen, Jack McGee

Foie-gasm in Nashville

As I head out on foot from my hotel situated only blocks away from the infamous Printer’s Alley I feel a glow from the city of Nashville. Keep in mind we are still in the backhand of the Covid epidemic and the city doesn’t feel as busy as usual. Not a lot of cars zooming by, or horns blasting and even the smell seems different. The town feels a bit more peaceful and serine.

All roads lead to the alley

So I got a tip from a Facebook friend that I need to check out a small place with big results. I am always game to check out a solid recommendation from a fellow foodie. As you make your way into the alley overhead lights glow of excitement and adventure. The smell of cigarettes start to lift sensations in your body of wild times past of the College glory days and nights that you never wanted to end. The sounds of music and laughter and people on a mission to have a good time and forget about all of the bad going on in the world, even if just for today.

The Alley

So I make my way to a door that is about to lead me into a portal of a new culinary dimension. I was quickly greeted by the hostess who safely led me to my table right up by this amazing angelic singer who was harmonizing with the piano man. I knew I was off to a good start. The staff was masked up for our safety and took great efforts to make sure all patrons felt as safe as we possibly could.

The view

As I pick up the menu my eye goes straight to Foie Gras and a whisky drink that includes a sassafras infusion and I am in! I will take that and that please as I point to the two best thing on the menu, though I don’t know it at the time.

SOUTHERN TURF $13 “buffalo trace bourbon, turbinado, sassafras, sorghum, orange”

So f***ing good! This dish just made me food-gasm with literally every bite of the Foie Gras. Perfectly seared and melted in my mouth like butter on a Lamborghini Diablo on a Miami Hot Summers Day! The foie was literally so good, I couldn’t eat the corn that was paired with it. Next time I would order the fois by itself, it literally needs nothing.

Fois Gras $20 “Hudson Valley Grade A with Sweet Corn Honey Champagne Vinegar”

So I am a huge fan of raw filet and arugula so I order the carpaccio. Way to much salt, I think the chef got excited about his new salt flakes and went a little cray cray. It is a simple mistake and anyone could make it. I also feel a little too much truffle oil was used. The person that garnished this dish was probably a young and excited chef, nothing wrong with excitement, but you can go to much with such rich ingredients. The arugula salad was Devine, but I am an arugula fan all the way. The bread basket was unique and delicious unexpected treat. It was a light fluffy piece of toast with a raw egg yolk in the middle. The golden toast bar melted in your mouth and the egg would have been so good on the beef, what a fun concept that I will definitely have fun recreating at one of my next private dinners. Thank you team for the effort, I will definitely try again and specify light on the salt. To be fair, the waitress noticed I didn’t eat much and took this item off my bill. She said the chef agreed there was too much salt. Mistake made, chef was aware, problem solved, now on to the next course.

Carpaccio with Arugula $18 “Shaved Raw Beef Tenderloin, Arugula, Bread Box, Coddled Egg, Manchego Cheese with Truffle Oil”

Now on to a dish you don’t see often enough on the menu these days. I am the chef that thrives on the classics but is always open to a new ride. Who doesn’t love organ meat from the thymus gland and pancreas??? If you don’t, it is probably because you haven’t been around an old school chef that has cooked it properly. I still can remember the texture and strong flavors of cognac and reduced veal stock the first time I had them. I remember all the chefs running over when the organ meat came out piping hot of the roasting pan and they all dug in with a spoon to taste of the glory! So of course I dug in as well not having any idea what a sweetbread really was. It melted in my mouth, all senses were thrown out the door and I was left barely able to stand. I can’t be certain, but this memory possibly could have been my first food-gasm ever in my adult career. When the chefs laughed and told me what they were, I truly didn’t care and knew that my life would be forever changed as a chef. Sometimes we have to take big boy steps, to enter the big world of Culinary-ism.

Needless to say, sweetbreads are very dear to my heart and I was almost scared to order for the chance I didn’t want to be let down. Thank God I did order!!!

I took the first bite and was thrust into a land of everything right and where everything was perfect except what I was drinking. I instantly stopped sipping on the whisky trophy drink and frantically looked for my waitress. I held my hand up, like I was in school trying to get the teachers attention, in hopes she would see me, she came over promptly and I simply requested a red wine that tastes as close to butter as possible. She had no idea what I was taking about but we agreed upon a Trevena Paso Robles California Cab for $15 a glass. Yes!!!!!! The only hard part was to not eat all the sweetbreads before the wine arrived. The wine had a buttercup nose that led into a heavy smoke from the barrels it was aged in. This wine was simply delicious and truly made for my dish.

The Hericot Verts were undercooked in my opinion and didn’t need such a heavy sauce. It was like a straight forward plain aioli. The crispy potatoes were cooked a little too crispy but some people probably prefer them that way, but I would have held back slightly and made them not so bitter. The Potato Gelette “Mashed Potatoes” were delicious and perfectly seasoned. There was an aioli surrounding plate, but I suggest to leave it as a garnish. Maybe a dip for the potatoes, but I didn’t really eat the potatoes. But who cares about anything, the star of the show were definitely the sweetbreads and might I say with beautiful presentation.

Veal Sweet Breads $18 “Poached then Fried in Potato Flour, Hericots Verts, Potato Galette”

Now on to my favorite salad in the world. Please keep in mind I am very hard on this particular salad for I have had the best in the world at a young age, long live the Caesar!

The salad was refreshing and they were on point with the cracked pepper service. I would say it was ok, the dressing was a little bland, and lacking in the garlic and lemon flavor and heavy on the anchovy category. I don’t mind heavy anchovy but I like a follow through with spice and a little Worcestershire goes a long way with this Texas boy. Douse a little bit of that Texas staple and kick up the garlic. If you are serving white anchovies I like a whole one for garnish but don’t put a whole salty dark anchovy fry on my salad, my wife won’t kiss me for a week, lol 😝

Now the Cheese Triangle was delicious and reminded me of a compressed Cheez-It and grated cheddar, absolutely scrumptious! I would say, order if you want a salad. I am always in search of the perfect Caesar so I love trying new ones, not my favorite but I don’t hate it. I am spoiled and grew up on the border of Mexico and would go weekly for my fix of the best Caesarian Salad on the planet earth at a border town restaurant called Garcia’s, but that tale is for another day 😉

Caesar Salad $12 “Classic Caesar with Anchovy, Lemon, Garlic, & Coddled Egg”

So now imagine your in New Orleans sitting in a trendy spot that is doing new age super rich decadent foods mixing crazy flavors. That is what this dish represents. Fried Panko fusion meets funnel cake batter, perfectly cooked eggplant. I preferred the thinner slice over the thicker, but who am I to judge? The crawfish was fun and popped excitement in my mouth. They used super small shrimp, but I will say they didn’t taste that bad. I sometimes admit I do judge a shrimp by its size. I am a 1-15 guy, and these were 30-40. The sauce was way over the top rich and I couldn’t finish it, but if you are looking for some bang for your buck order this!!!! Delicious flavors that melded as one. A little too rich for this Texas boys bloodstream, but I am greedy and want to try as many dishes as possible….

Eggplant $17 “Fried Panko, Topped with Crawfish, Shrimp and Spinach Cream”

Now when God created me, he made something very unique to my body. He gave me two stomachs, one for savory and one for desserts. I can be so full from a meal, but that doesn’t effect my eating of dessert. So we are off to desert-land!!!! After some time of explanation and narrowing down the choices we arrive upon Peanut Butter Pie.

This quadruple peanut butter explosion is now my new best friend and I will protect all she stands for! The top is a peanut butter drizzle, over the top of Butter Cream infused with light peanut butter, over the top of lightly whipped peanut butter cheese cake, over the top of heavy peanut butter cheesecake sitting on top of a nutmeg spiced graham cracker stack! Get back Jack, this is a treat that is worthy of ending this meal with. I was feeling spunky so paired with a Cherry Sour Beer from Belgium……I know………I’m Weird…….and I like it that way!!!!!

Peanut Butter Pie $10.00

This was not the pairing of the century, but I am a sour junky, and a sour junky’s will pair anything with one, just to get the opportunity to drink a new flavor 😉 This sour is not as sour as most but does have a twist and turn or sour patch kids meets cherry-cherry and a little berry.

Ommegang, Rosetta (Cherry Sour) 5.6% Belgium $8.00

I will have to say that Executive Chef Gannon M. Leary and his team did a fantastic job out of a 10 foot by 20 foot kitchen and truly made magic for this chef to digest. The front of the house staff and duo of entertainment, you all rocked my world!!! Thank you all for putting your passion, your risk, your heart into making extraordinary memories! #iwillbeback

The kitchen

Since 1948

222 Printer’s Alley

Nashville, TN 37201

Skull’s Rainbow Room


Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. To make a reservation, please call us at (615) 810-9631 or visit our Reservations page here.


best things in life are FREE

I claim that today is eat all the carbs you want day!!!! This should be a national holiday 😉 It is so nice to know the owner of your favorite restaurant. I was craving the bread service at Nonna’s Italian Cafe downtown Springfield, Missouri so I called the Owner/Chef Shawn Kraft and asked if he was around. It was 8:30am on a Monday, he cheerfully answers “Of course I am here, the front door is open, let yourself in!” (As I hear pots and pans banging around in the background) So I respond that I am on my way. 

Daddy Daughter Date with my 17 mo old Lilly
Daddy Daughter Date in Full Effect

A huge smile on his face and a great big bear hug are salutations as the Italian music 🎶 is playing loudly in the kitchen area. Chef Shawn is cleaning up 🧹from a tornado 🌪 that happened the night before. (We live in Missouri, literally a tornado 🌪 came through the previous evening and knocked off his sky vent)

Shawn at a pop up dinner hosted by Chef Drake Tillman
Shawn Kraft at pop up dinner hosted by Chef Drake Tillman

I come in with Lilly Pad (my 17 month old daughter) and he calls her by name and says buongiorno!!! I tell him I am craving his famous bread service, so he pulls out some freshly baked bread, chops some fresh garlic, grates the Parmesan Cheese 🧀 and drizzles Extra Virgin Olive oil on the top. I kindly add to his amazing concoction some salt 🧂 and cracked pepper.

Some of the best things in life are free
Some of the Best Things in Life are Free

He then fills a shot glass of pressed olive juice and downs it, saying “Good for the soul.” Shawn Kraft is a die hard fan of Italy and even though he lives in the states, in his mind he is always on the coast of Napoli. (He also runs a travel site that does tours through Italy and shows you the ins and outs and you eat 🍽 and drink 🍷 your way across Italy) Website: siitalia.wine

Mr and Mrs Kraft off the coast of Italy giving a tour with Si Italia
Mr and Mrs Kraft off the Coast of Italy giving a tour for their travel company “Si Italia”

I asked him why, and he says I get a free trip to Italy and at the end of the day I make a couple of bucks. What an awesome way to have an entrepreneurial spirit and take life into your own hands. Like the Frank Sinatra song, “I Do It My Way!” 

Prosecco is his favorite
Prosecco is a favorite in this family

I take my first bite and it is like heaven, the raw garlic, the quality parmigiano reggiano from the home land, the acidic and spicy Extra Virgin Olive Oil coats the back of your throat and is just like a symphony is playing inside my taste buds. Ahhhhhhh, I have been craving this experience, and no better way than to discuss culinary politics and kitchen drama with the owner while my 17 month old baby girl wanders through the dining room floor. Occasionally she will return like a little bird returning for her nibble of freshly dipped bread in the sauce of the Gods.

My little Lilly roaming the restaurant

Some things in life are simple and extravagant at the same time. It is how we source our ingredients, the surroundings (like the Italian music in the background) and the company you hold.

Lilly approved this meal! So did Daddy

This was one of my favorite breakfasts in Springfield Missouri and I will always cherish this moment. After some time of catching up he nicely starts to back away slowly into his kitchen where he will spend most of his day and I release him to his office of culinary adventures. He hugs me again and kindly brushes the cheek of my baby girl and just like that we are released back into the real world 🗺.

Location: Downtown Springfield Missouri

Vibin Late Night

So I have been Private Cheffing all day for over 12 hours executing Executive Meal Prep for one of my local high end clients. It was late and had been a long day, and I defiantly didn’t want to cook for myself. It is 9:30pm in Springfield Missouri, I ask myself, where am I going to eat this time of the night on a Thursday?

It was cold outside and I wanted a warm atmosphere. Then it strikes me like lightening struck the Clock Tower. (if your not old enough to get this joke, watch “Back To The Future” it will be good for your developing mind 🙂

The Cheesecake with the best Caramel Sauce I have ever had in Springfield Mo

I remember that my good buddies Dillon Fox & Jimmy Rollins opened a new Jazz Club downtown, & most importantly, I remember they serve food till late into the night. I pull up and get lucky and find a parking spot not too far away from the front door. It is cold and drizzly so I dart across the street and make my way into this 1920’s style Retro Chic Jazz Club.

Co Owner Dylan Fox receiving an award.

The lighting is dim (which I love in a late night spot), the place is busy with clients, and the Jazz Trio is jiving. There is a table right up front for 1 and I sit myself right down. I absolutely love live entertainment, and Live Jazz is about as high as you can get on my happy scale.

Awesome live Jazz Trio

The server comes up with an empty glass and a pitcher of water, water with no ice in it. I am in love already!!! I really appreciate good tasting water and with the offering of no ice, win and win! I prefer to drink water without ice, it is much more refreshing and helps me drink more of it and lets all admit we could all use a little more water in our lives.

Late Night Food Menu in Springfield MO

I am hungry, but not too hungry so I start to thumb through the menu. It is very well laid out, simple and to the point on all aspects from Beer that is only $2.50 (not what I would expect at a high end Jazz Bar, but they are catering to their area, and who their people are and I respect that. I also love in their Manifesto it states: “We are here to make you believe in our industry” I absolutely love that, and feel that when I walk in.

Look at these awesomely Cheap Prices!!! #getyousome

I order Pierogies with Potato & Beet Dumplings, Onion Gravy, Fried Cabbage & Mushrooms. It was plated beautifully and was the perfect temperature when served. This dish was $12.00 and I felt it was a great deal for what you get, and especially for the time of evening that it was. (it was about 10pm at this point) Do not think your typical bar food, this is much more elevated and executed with grace from Chef Dustin Fox who happens to also be Dylan Fox’s brother. I paired this with a Katas Tempranillo Wine that was $7 a glass and it was so juicy and exactly what I was expecting. You can get a decent Tempranillo from Spain for a reasonable amount per bottle $12-24 and you get a lot more bang for your buck. These grapes are so juicy because of the hot climate in which they are grown, it gives a special flavor only the Tempranillo Variety can achieve.

Pierogies, Onion Gravy, Fried Cabbage & Mushrooms $12

My only critique on the Pierogies filled with Pureed Beet & Potato, I would have seasoned the filling a little more, as well as the pastry shell. Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing dish and prepared very classically but I would have liked a little more seasoning. Just a touch of Sea Salt would have thrown this dish to new heights. The gravy was perfectly executed and the Fried Cabbage was cooked for the perfect amount of time to not make too mushy or too crunchy, a perfect in between texture. I was also very impressed with the presentation, I highly recommend this dish.

Pierogies with Beet & Potato Dumplings & Onion Gravy $12 paired with a Tempranillo $7

I was really craving a bold glass of red, I wouldn’t recommend the pairing with this course, but this was my main dish and I am a sucker for a Tempranillo. I would recommend you have Dylan Fox make you an extraordinary mixed drink that he does so well. I remember the first time I ever had a real Daiquiri (and keep in mind I am a sailor that has sailed through the islands for over 10 years) and it was with Mixologist Dylan Fox at “Barley Wheat & Rye” a posh Whisky Bar that was on the South side of town. If you have never had a “Real Daiquiri” I think you should rush to The Hepcat Downtown Springfield Missouri and get one right now! It is so simple and so delicious: Rum, Lime Juice, and Sugar. When done right it is a game changer to add to your arsenal of go-to cocktails. I recommend you pair a classic Daiquiri with this dish, would be devine.

Specialty Cocktail Menu

As I am noshing on my Pierogies (which I am bypassing the fork and eating them by hand because I am enjoying them so much) I don’t know if this is allowed or if I am being cool enough, but they are so good, I really don’t care. As I sip on my Tempranillo, I remember thinking to myself that this is the good life. The sound of smooth Jazz flowing through the nights air, and I am sitting so close I can feel the wind come in and out of the instruments. I close my eyes and think to myself, this is truly “Viben” right here………and I am so digging it. So if you want a vibe like no other, please come check out this hip Jazz Club downtown.

I love a Fortified Wines Section!!! #brinbackport

The “Fortified Wines” section catches my eye with the offerings of a Tawny Pork, Multiples of Sherries, (Dylan is a big fan of Sherries) Ruby Port & a Madeira. I approach the bar and ask the legend himself “Dylan Fox” what he would pair with the Vanilla Cheese Cake what came with a J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. He takes a moment to think and then says “Amontillado Sherry”. I ask him what made him choose that, he replies that it is his favorite Sherry, that is why. (good answer, I think to myself)

Cheesecake of the Day with Dylan’s Favorite Sherry

So I place the order for Dylan’s Favorite Amontillado Sherry, and the “Something Cheesecake” which happens to be “Vanilla Cheesecake, Cranberry Sauce, Whipped Cream & J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. They should have changed the name to Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake because that was defiantly the star of the show!!! It literally melted in your mouth and you could taste the butter, the bursts of the sugared crunch and the graham just all mixing and melting together in my mouth making the most amazing magic.

I wanted to go ask the chef if he could save me all the scraps of the day that fall off the cheese cake and put them in a bowl and I would be by nightly to pick up my flakes of sweet, sweet culinary bliss. The cheesecake was spot on and nice and light, and not to heavy like some cheesecakes can be. I wouldn’t traditionally order a Cranberry Topping but this was close to Thanksgiving so it fit the theme perfectly. The chef left the cranberries in chunks which I liked and must have cooked them with sugar absorbing most of that bitter power pack that you can some time get from fresh cranberries. These were cooked perfectly, light and bright with a nice sweet undertone. They also whipped their own Sweetened Cream and appreciate that as well. It could have been a little fluffier if you are going to call it Whipped Cream. I recommend getting a “Professional Whipped Cream Dispenser” that uses Co2 Cartridges, you can use real cream and it is real fast and easy to store in fridge. Or just change the name to “Cream Sauce” it was super good!!!

Lets get a closer look at this masterpiece

Now lets get to the seduction part of this dish, the J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. This sauce was cooked down flawlessly and I was so blown away with the after bite. It is that kind of caramel sauce that is almost burnt but isn’t, do you know what I am talking about???? You could feel the texture of the grit and burn, even though it was not there at all, it gives the feel in your mind. This to me was perfectly cooked down Caramel Sauce and it takes balls to do what this chef did. Caramel Sauce can burn so fast when you take it to this level, but if done right, with the perfect technique of cooking, it will come out magnificent. This my food loving friend was cooked magnificently. Chef Fox, please don’t loose your passion for this Sauce, I am coming back for more 😉

Amontillado Sherry $8 “Dylan’s Fave”

I taste it with my sherry and it is a match made in the stars. When I come back in I will pair it with the 10 Year Tawny Port, but that is just because I love a good aged Tawny like I love breathing fresh air. I don’t always order it, but when I do, I like for it to be in an environment like this.

Executive Chef Dustin Fox for The Hepcat

After the meal I make my way back into the kitchen to tell Chef Dustin Fox that his Caramel Sauce sent me into a happy place, a happy place I needed to visit and now am reborn into a better person because of it. Don’t you just love when food can do that to you? For me it resets a clock in my body that lets me be stress free again. It lets me forget about all the problems of the world, lets me forget about any stress that might be on my mind. Takes me to that happy place that only an experience, the perfect smell in the air, the talents of a talented chef and the knowledge of a drink specialist.

If you want to enter that realm, and leave regular day life behind for a short moment in time, the enter “The Hepcat” and let that Vibe take you to that place you need to be.

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By Chef Paul Allen “Pauly”

A Miami Venezuelan Restaurant “Rick James” Would Be Proud To Eat At ;)

Nutella Croissant – You Need This In Your Mouth!!!

Holy Smokes Batman!!!!!! This little Venezuelan eatery/coffee shop/authentic spot is fantastic!!!!! Seriously A1 (no pun intended) including fantastic service. As you walk in you might think this is just a coffee shop, but you are wrong, it is so much more. Yes there is an amazing case of freshly baked goodies (my fave is the Nutella Induced Croissant) and I can’t wait to try them all.

The Delicious Case of Yumminess!

The menu is well diversified, which at first through me off, and I wondered if they specialized in anything at all. Well, they do! The authentic Venezuelan food is off the chain!!!!

Open For Business

All the patrons seemed to be smiling and enjoying what ever they ordered, I would personally order anything off that menu with full confidence in the chef.

Appetizer Sampler for $21 – Little Venezuelan samples. (2 of each)
Tequeños, Mandocas, Mini-Cachapas, Shredded Beef or Chicken Patacones, crunchy Chicharrones (Pork Rinds) and your choice of Mini-Empanadas or Mini-Arepitas.

This dish the “De Mano” Cheese Cachapa (con Queso de Mano)
$9.99 was on the appetizer sampler I ordered and it was so interestingly good! Not super sweet, but fun bursts of corn that injected a flavor bomb of authentic homeland in your mouth. Yes!!!!! Seriously, everything was so over the top good!!!!

Like Christmas, a Pretzel, and Corn Pancakes Had a Baby

Now let’s get into the pretzel looking things called Mandocas. Imagine if Christmas, a pretzel and corn pancakes had a beautiful little baby, that is what these are. So interesting, that it is one of those things you just have to experienced for yourself 🙂

So weirdly good!! Photo Cred to owner of website

Had a nice Venezuelan beer that paired perfectly, and it was just a fun spot to be. Here is the real deal, for being in Miami, this place was super affordable! A real winner all the way around.

Venezuelan Beer – Polar

One more thing, the name!!!!! I really loved this part……”7ty One”. Ok, so the “7” represents “Divine Perfection, Abundance, Prosperity & Luck, that would get me to eat there alone!! Now I am blessed with all those things simply by going there 😉 “One” symbolizes “Unity” because that’s what we are…….. (I love this) (we need more of this all over the world) (love)

Unity!!!!!! Rick James would be proud 😉

Here is the website to look at the yummy selections https://www.7tyonemiami.com/

Make This Your Happy Place!
Author Paul Allen – Foodie – Christian – Husband – Daddy “But Not In That Order”

Springfield is making Progress…

A seasonal dish prepared by Chef Drake Tillman

When you think of Springfield Missouri you might think of the home of Bass Pro Shops, Springfield Cardinals, BBQ and where a Chinese Buffet is on every street corner. Well Springfield is starting to make a change with its eclectic food scene. We have Farmers Gastropub ran by Chef Andy Hampshire, that buys as much local as he can get his hands on. We have Chef Drake Tillman that is bringing new concepts to our area with pop up dinners, pop up restaurants, and even his own Brick and Mortar “Elkhart and The Robberson”. Chef Drake is also about to launch “Margot” located inside the Artisan’s Oven on Commercial Street. It will be a seasonal menu that will change weekly and be based upon what is the best at that time of year. Caleb Strangroom is doing some amazing stuff at “The Order” Downtown inside Hotel Vandivort. We also have access to amazing local farms in the area and fun artisans to buy products.

Athena The Goat from Terrell Creek Farm at “Cheese Night”

There are a hand full of other Chef’s in the area that are taking the quality of ingredients into their own hands. I commend these chef’s and feel that the era is upon us, to actually put the ingredient first, then make a dish around it. So many times a restaurant will demand to have the same dishes year around, and that may seem impossible for an artisan that wants only the best. When you want the best, that means the best is in limited supply most of the time. Fresh fish has seasons, local produce has seasons, even goats take a beer break and stop producing milk at least once a year.

Dylan Fox, Co Owner of Hepcat & Mixologist Master

So to say the least, these chefs are hand carving a path, that has not been dug before in Springfield Missouri. Many have failed trying to bring this concept to the area and only the strong survive. The concept of buying local when possible, the concept of having a delicious simple drink at the bar like a daiquiri. How many of you have ever tasted a true daiquiri? I have been all over the world and had my first true daiquiri in Springfield Missouri by the master of mixology Dylan Fox co owner of Hepcat. A real daiquiri is Rum, Fresh Lime Juice, & Simple Syrup. It is so simple, yet so divine! Thank you Dylan, I will forever be in your debt, and you carved a memory that will be long to be lost. For a recipe of a classic daiquiri CLICK HERE

Michael Schmitz “Jersey”

So we see that Springfield is making Progress on the food scene but did you know there is actually a restaurant called “Progress”??? Let me tell you the cool aspects of how this came to be about. This was a group of 3, a team that was devised out of pure passion for what they do. You have “Jersey” Michael Schmitz who is the drink master. Seriously when I order with this Jedi Warrior of Cocktails I tell him my mood. Then he tells me what I want to drink and makes it. For instance, I might tell him I have had a long work week, I want something strong, but not too sweet but I want a hint of liveliness in the drink. One other bit of information, Michael has never let me down. I remember the very first time I told him how I felt, he made me a Smokey Mezcal Manhattan. Who does that? That takes a set of brass you know what, but it was divine! Over the top heavenly with splash of everything that is good. This magician of flavors, spice and everything nice Michael can pair my drinks at any gathering, any meal, any time!

Now onto the front of the house and the lady that makes the flow, flow. Cassidy Rollins is the smiling face you will see when you walk into the doors of Progress. I will admit I have seen Michael take a day off, I have seen Chef take a day off, but Cassidy has been there every time I have dined. She is a work-a-holic and it shows in the gracefulness of how the floor is ran. She has always accommodated me even though I bring my 18 month old daughter and never made me feel unwelcome. Even when Chef or Michael can’t make it over to say hello, Cassidy is not only there, she is asking what else can they do to make the stay more pleasant. Not only does she say the words, she means it and you can feel it in her tone. Thank you Cassidy for always making my family and myself feel so at home at your establishment. When we did my wife’s surprise 30th birthday you accommodated over 20 guests and with ease. You have made memories that will last a life time for me as well as so many in our area, thank you from all of us!

Chef Daniel Ernce with Yellowfin Tuna

18 years old, living in Australia in a house with 10 other people and they didn’t know how to cook. So Chef Daniel Ernce steps up the the plate and knew from then on he wanted to cook and learn more. Later he did an internship at 108, a Michelin-starred restaurant. This was a twist of chef Rene Redzepi’s temple to Nordic cuisine, Noma. I am sure this was a game changer for Chef Ernce and the things he would come back home with in his culinary arsenal. Expressing himself through pop up dinners in the Springfield area, he found himself cooking for Tim O’Reilly, the CEO of O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC. That was a big deal, and now had lead to the birth of the trendy restaurant Progress with their rooftop bar Reverie right above them.

This Trio from Progress is a Power House

This trio is a power house in the culinary scene and are doing amazing things in Springfield. Today after Church we went to Brunch and had some mind blowing snacks! I will be honest and let you know I came for the dessert I saw floating around on social media and everything else was just cherries on top, luxardo cherries actually. I am taking a phrase off social media to describe this dessert: A great chef once said ‘a dessert must be worth its calories’ and this one is! Kyle’s brownies stacked with The Coffee Ethic espresso semifreddo ice cream, brown butter caramel, toasted pecans and a maraschino cherry.

Kyle’s Brownie Stack $8

Actually it was two Luxardo Cherries, the original Maraschino and they were superb! As you were biting into this dessert all the trumpets of heaven were sounding at once and you get lost in each layer. You almost have to take 3 different bites of this dessert to get the full elevation of what the chef is trying to express. The Coffee Ethic Semifreddo was literally to rob a bank for! Then you get the perfectly cooked Brownie with this decedent Brown Butter Caramel Sauce and toasted Pecan Crumbles. To just strut his stuff Kyle topped it with Two Luxardo Cherries to just take a swing for a grand slam! Thank you Kyle for this creation, you rocked my world today!

Hendricks Feature $10

The top two things on my list today was the “Kyle’s Brownie Stack” and “The Hendricks Feature” which has Hendricks Seasonal Gin, Grapefruit Liqueur, Cucumber, Lime, Grapefruit Oil, and garnished with a sugared rim and a dried grapefruit. This cocktail literally made me feel like a firework show of good flavors and perfect ratios of everything mentioned above. It was literally perfect! From the first sip, I had to close my eyes and drift off to paradise, like I was standing on an ocean pier watching the fireworks in the distance with breeze upon my face like non other, please if you like Gin, get here and order this cocktail before it is off the menu.

Donut Holes $5

We also had the Donut Holes $5 which were fried in house, dusted with Sugar and served with Nutella. It was almost Beignet-Like and I loved it! Then you got to dunk it in a big vat of nutella, and don’t act like we all don’t need an excuse to dunk in some nutella??? They came out hot, and crunchy with a doughy center. Next time I might order some milk with this dish, that would go perfect! And I am sure Jersey could pair an alcoholic mixer that would set your world on fire!

Progress Hot-Brown $14

Now onto the main course of this tasty brunch, the Progress Hot-Brown that started off with a cast iron skillet. At the bottom of this food sculpture was a toasted sliced bread that was toasted perfectly and for just the right amount of time. It did not get soggy even though it was covered in gravy. Which leads us to the next ingredient, smoked chicken. It was nice and simple, yet well seasoned. Then that was topped with scratch gravy that was delicious. Big chunks of sausage and the gravy was perfect in consistency. Then that was topped with a local Edgwood Cheddar Cheese and house made Newman Farm Bacon Bits. This dish was way over the top, and I will say normally I don’t like a smothered bowl, but this reins supreme over any smothered bowl I have ever had. You could taste all of the flavors and nothing got lost. I will say the acidity of the cocktail helped part the seas of flavor, so final verdict. You will have request Jersey to come to the table and do a paring with your Progress Hot-Brown.

I can safely say that every time I have come to dine at Progress it has been and experience and I truly appreciate that about this team. So anyways, when your experience is over you must head to the south west corner of the restaurant, for those of you that are not good with directions look to the right of the hosting station and you will see the big sign that says “Progress”. You must get a picture, don’t worry, the person at the station will notice and offer to take a picture for you. Then you do a big smile and recommend to all you friends on social media to try this place as well. Thank you team Progress, for being apart of the change here in Springfield and truly being apart of the progress.

From Left to Right: Bestie Larnelle Foster, Wifey Ashley Allen, Daughter Lilly Anastasia Allen, Paul Allen

by Chef/Food Blogger Paul Allen (remember to subscribe for more reviews and food adventures to come)

Adventure of a Fat Kid, II

The Naughty Tacos, that felt so right!

We are on day 9 of my new lifestyle and as a human does, we make excuses and let life get in the way. Not saying this is a bad thing, this is a real thing. All in all I have been doing good on my new lifestyle but I have slipped a couple of times. On cheat day, I went out with my children to Incredible Pizza. I was loving my refined and processed melted cheese on my tacos, and it felt good, at the time, lol! Ha, it is funny that I am a chef, and my cheat day was at a children’s pizza buffet, but that is the life of a dad trying to have fun with the kiddos while they are young.

Cheat Night!

I will admit for some reason I feel like I walk into a new realm when I go into Incredible Pizza and calories and fat grams don’t count. (and yes I am sure I am going to Hell for all the trans fats I am eating at this place, but for some reason I just don’t care. My children and I have so much fun, and that is more important over some standards of eating. I figure they won’t always be this age so I should enjoy it and just let loose and have a good time.

Yummy Cocktail at Cellar & Plate in Springfield Mo

I also have been eating some packaged foods at night like nuts, dried fruits, coconut clusters, and some other packaged items. What else bad have I done……….oh yeah! I went out with some chef friends during the week and totally threw the diet out the window and had meat, cheese, and all kinds of delicious rich foods and I didn’t care at all. As a father I was so excited to get out of the house and be with some good buddies and just have some downtime. Not saying I don’t love my family, just good to get away. I also had a cocktail and a glass of wine. Typically I don’t drink except on cheat day, but why not put the body in shock and awe! LOL!!!!

Thank you Flickr for the free image

So you know, don’t feel bad about having a cheat day on top of a cheat day every now and again. Do you know why??? Because you are human, and it is OK to have a good time. Take it while you can get it, just balance out the rest of your week. For me, I might not indulge quite so much on “Cheat Day” because of the things I consumed on Thursday night with the boys.

“Thursday Night With The Boys”
From right to left: Italian Aficionado Shawn Kraft, Chef of the Year Jyh Tan, Restaurateur/Chef Angel Kim, Your Truly Chef Pauly
High Heat Roasted Organic Broccoli

I feel that doing good 4-5 days that I wasn’t doing before, is progress. I have been preparing a lot of fresh meals that are very simple like “High Heat Roasted Broccoli”. Trim 1-3 heads of Organic Broccoli, toss in a large bowl Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt, & Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast. This healthy treat can be done with any vegetable out there. I love mixing that with some cleaned and trimmed Red Organic Beets.

Wild Caught Salmon is more red in color, not pink

I have also been eating a lot of Wild Caught Salmon for lunch, I think it is delicious! I personally stay away from Farm Raised Salmon and would just rather not eat if that is my only choice. For more info on Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught Salmon check this out from our friends at “Crown Prince” click HERE. I feel salmon is very digestible and good for the body. I like to blacken it, saute it in my Miyoko’s Plant Based Butter, and cook it medium.

I love my Miyoko’s!!!

Miyoko’s is made of Organic Coconut and Cashew and it tastes almost just like butter and has all the same cooking attributes as well. It is so creamy and burns like butter helping give amazing texture to steaks and seafood. You can use with your veggies or poultry. And I feel this a great help for the diets that don’t allow dairy and meat, you can use this butter alternative and get great results!

So I have been terrible about drinking water my entire life! Seriously, I would be lucky to drink 2 glasses of water a week. Being a sailor for over a decade I remember taking my vitamins with an IPA Beer or glass of champagne. I seriously never drank water, well unless you count the ice cubes that melted in my cocktails. It was what it was, you worked hard and played hard as a yacht chef and this particular yacht chef never drank water.

Yacht I worked on for 3 years in and out of St Barts and Ft Lauderdale

So now to the water part of my lifestyle, it is very important that you drink the proper amount of water even if it does funny stuff at first. Like for me, I am blowing up like a whale and my body is retaining the water that I am drinking because it thinks it is a trick and I am not going to drink water any more, lol. I am on almost 2 weeks of drinking 115 oz of water a day. I have noticed I do sleep better and when I would sit down to poop, and I would sit too long, I would get tingles in my knees and it was like my feet went to sleep. That is going away by drinking the water I feel. So you take your weight and divide it by two and that is what you should drink in water per day in ounces. So I am 230 pounds divided by 2 is 115 oz per day. If you are 200 pounds and divide by 2 your are 100 oz per day. Very simple, and very important. Your body is 60-70 percent water so do the math. So back to my water problem, but it isn’t going to stop me from drinking water. Eventually I am sure my body will start to circulate my water more rapidly as it gets used to me feeding it plenty of water every day. It just wont go out, and no matter how good I eat, I still feel this water inside me. I just have to have faith my body will know what to do.

Thank you Wikipedia for the free image

The way that I drink lots of water is I bought a cool Artic Insulated Mug that fits in a drink holder and drink from it. It is 20 oz and I try and drink from it 6 times. If you do once in the morning and once at night that is 2. Then drink one 15-20 min before or after a meal, that is a total of 5. Now just drink one or two more in between and you are 6-7 and doing good! The benefits of water are just remarkable and I strongly recommend that if you only do one thing to better your life, drink your recommended amount of water daily. You can do it!

Yacht Chef/Food Blogger Paul Allen

To here more follow me on this blog and I will keep you updated with how it is going in my life as an overweight chef trying to get a handle of life and still live at the same time!!!! Did I mention I have 3 daughters??? Life is real, for real!!!! lol 🙂

adventure of a FAT kid

Hello, my name is Paul Allen and I am 40 years old. I grew up hefty my whole life (or as my Mom would say, big boned) and didn’t shed the weight till I was in Culinary School around the age of 21 at a top weight of 255. As a fat kid, we sometimes bring the weight back on and then try to shed again. (like a yo yo effect) At the current moment I am hunched over a computer with my belly resting against the top of my thighs and It is once time to do something about it. I haven’t been on a weight scale in years but if I was to guess, I would say I am around 230-235 pounds. My ideal weight is 185 and I need to do something about it.

Paul Allen 1/7/2020

I am going on a diet or should I say “Lifestyle” that I created while attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. At the time I called it the “SOA Way of Life” but I am thinking of changing the name to “DOM Lifestyle” (D.O.M. = Design Of Me) but maybe you can help me come up with a better name. (feel free to message me a name you think would be better) I was big my whole life and when I went to Culinary School I ate a lot of food, and had a grand ole time. I was blowing up like a whale and loving every minute. Until my thighs would rub together and I would get soars and agony from the pain. I hated when that would happen. As a fat kid you don’t realize all the ailments you have, until you loose the weight and you think to yourself, how did I live with myself???

Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park New York

I remember going through Nutritional Class at the CIA and learning about calories, fat, healthy fat, trans fats, and all kinds of interesting stuff. We did a project and had to count the calories we consumed for the week and input it into a computer program. I clearly remember on the day that we did this, when I entered my breakfast alone I had gone over on calorie intake for the whole day and hadn’t even gotten to lunch, dinner, desserts or snacks for the remainder of the day. I was at over 5,500 calories for the whole day!!!!!

Photo Cred: Ash from pexels

At that moment I knew I had to make a life change! Now was the time to apply my knowledge, and focus on weight loss and a better life all around. Are you ready for my formula??? I started off by eating anything I want for breakfast, a modest lunch and fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner. I stayed away from dairy but did allow hard cheeses like Parmesan and Asiago in the morning or afternoon, and had one cheat day a week. Besides that day, no sugary candy or sweets.

Lunch of Wild Caught Salmon and Roasted Veggies

I would find myself eating better and better for breakfast and on the cheat day, sometimes I would not even cheat. My body started to crave this new lifestyle of delicious whole foods and eventually I didn’t crave sugar at all. I cut out all fast food restaurants, and stayed away from condiments and pre-packaged items. (that doesn’t mean all items, just thought about my food and ingredients. Starting to practice moderation in my life for once) Now if I was at a friends house and they served me food, I din’t make a big deal of it. I would eat and not be the weird guy, and just later that week I would eat better. Or I would consider that my cheat day for the week. It is all about balance and an 80/20 lifestyle. 80% good, 20% anything goes.

80% eat good, 20% anything goes

Previously in life, I always tried the diets that have no light at the end of the tunnel, the strict crazy diets that are so hard to follow. If you live a normal life and actually leave your house, these seem impossible! At the time (2001 “ish”) the weight loss diets that have you eat a bunch of meat and dairy were very trendy (still are) but so very unhealthy I feel. This is just my thoughts, but I don’t see how that particular diet can be good for you. And every time I would do those kind of diets, yes the weight would come off, but if I was to slip up a hand full of times the weight always came right back, and sometimes even more.

According to the USDA, we are supposed to eat 5 oz of meat per day, about the size of a deck of cards, yet we eat 2-3 times that amount. Click HERE to read more. If we are on the meat induced diets, we might eat 4-5 times that amount. Where does it all go? Again, I do believe in some meat, but not in excess. The average American eats 222.22 pounds of meat per year according to a study in 2018 by Micheline Maynard Senior Contributor of FOOD & DRINK. I will copy her link HERE if you want to read more.

Chicago Stockyards 1947

Now lets get into the dairy aspect, when is the last time you viewed a 20 year old man suckling on his mother bosom for milk? My point exactly, (sorry for the image, lol) you haven’t! So why are we consuming so many milk, cheese, and dairy items? Well probably because they taste delicious!!! And when did we become able to digest milk from a Cow???? I am sure we choose this animal because it produces a lot of milk, but take some time to think about it, to truly truly ponder and think about it. Common sense will tell us all that it is not OK to eat that much diary, especially highly mass produced dairy products. If you have to have dairy every once in a while, I get it, but to incorporate ever day, I don’t think that is smart, but who am I t tell you what to do, I am no expert or doctor. On a serious note, don’t ever try to take away my ice cream, nothing gives me more satisfaction than a good trip to the ice cream stand. In moderation, this is OK and believe me I am the first to say I eat to much diary, but am going to put a handle on this and see how I feel. (I will let you know in future blogs if I feel different)

I love my Miyoko’s

We have to get away from thinking that calories are bad for us, calories in Europe are labeled Energy. Yes that is right, think of calories as energy, you just want to put the right energy inside you. For instance, if you are a marathon runner you might need more energy than someone sitting in their office chair all day. Not saying one is bad or the other, just saying we all have different lifestyles. So if you are consuming the same amount of energy as a marathon runner, and you are sitting most of the day, it could possibly turn to fat. Just look down at your waistline and trust me, it doesn’t lie. Also there is healthy fat like in avocados, nuts, and olive oil. The main fat we want to stay away from is Trans Fats. Here is an article for the top 7 trans fats and where they come from, CLICK HERE to read. Basically fried fast foods and items like margarine. We want to stay away from Trans Fats at all cost!!! I try to not even do them on Cheat Day! If you happen to eat one every now and again, don’t let it get to you, just try to slowly cut them out.

Free Image by pxfuel

This way of life is not about being worried all the time, it is about freedom and taking your life back in stages. Some will take this way of life more aggressively and loose weight faster, some will take it slow, but the key is to making it your new way of life. Eat with common sense, have fun, life life and enjoy it all, in moderation. Like if I go out of the country, I might eat bad every day for 2 weeks, but when I get home I get strict with what I consume.

This is a short introduction to the “Adventure of a FAT kid” to learn more about how this new way of life is going to work for me, keep reading my blog. I plan on showing you what I eat daily, helping you with recipes, and meal plans. We will see what this will grow into, but I will have no expectations of what is to be. If I can help a couple people loose weight like I did, and live a better lifestyle, so be it! I am sure you will not all agree on my diet, and what I believe, but that is OK. I am no doctor, I am not a scientist and am not saying one way is better than the other, this is just what worked for me. Like they say in Israel……….L’chaim! (to life my friends)

Chef Paul Allen

PS Now I have to figure out how to review restaurants and still stay healthy 🙂 Maybe I will have to only review healthy restaurants, lol 🙂


Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.