I’ve never met Sam Talbot. But I think that by osmosis, maybe channeling, this kid could be my son! And, yes, I do have three sons close in age to Sam, one more son is certainly no more work—a quick visit to my attorney to revise my will! So I’m officially ‘adopting’ Sam as my foodie son! Now, why would I want to write a blog about Sam? Notwithstanding that he is my new son! I mean there are so many other things I can blog about, that I need to blog about, that I should take time to write about, like the virtues of snowshoeing as one of my avid sports, what I put in my body I must burn off and other certain beliefs about the inter-connectedness of food and life—and here I am…writing about Sam! Read on, and I think you’ll understand.
Sam’s a Southern boy from North Carolina, purrdee darn close to my South Carolina. He went to culinary school in Charleston, SC, a hop skip and jump from my home of Murrells Inlet, a quaint fishing village about 70 miles north of Charleston. He understands how the peculiarities of the South impact everything—good and bad—about how those us that are born and bred Southern—from thinking and views on topics, a certain pronunciation of a word, the drawl of the accent to the food that we put in our mouths and the traditional ‘styles’ of cooking handed down from generation to generation and still being put on tables every day. I am witness to this—I have a dear wonderful woman who helps me at my house. She has been opened up to a whole new world of eating over the years just watching me cook, tasting my foods and learning that there are options to heavy gravies, white rice and frying. While there are, indeed, fabulous things about Southern cooking, there lies beneath the surface aspects of this style of cooking that are major contributors to health issues, diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and even mood and affect disorders that have deep dark roots in what we put in our mouths.
Sam is a young guy, a talented ‘Kobe Bryant’ culinary professional, whose mission is to take his gift(s) and make a huge difference in the fabric of the way people eat—sometimes efforts like this, especially for someone just 35, start when a person has been given a challenge in life. Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes at the young age of 12. Now, Sam’s new brothers, he is yet to meet—my three sons ages 35, 31, and 30, haven’t had to battle JD—but each has had his share of challenges including one son with epilepsy—challenges which have made them stronger as young men. These types of battles, health issues, have to be approached from a holistic viewpoint—body, mind and soul. I did this with my sons growing up, still do nag and hammer it into them this premise—there is a distinct and predictable correlation between what you put in your mouth and how you feel, look, respond, and connect with others.
I am thrilled to learn that this is what Sam is doing with his genius, his youthful enthusiasm, his influence and, of course, his God given talents for cooking. Sam’s approach is to help others realize that the way they eat and the way they live are one in the same—you can’t separate them—no more than you can separate the heart from the lungs—one feeds the other, one needs the other, if one suffers, the other suffers. Sam calls this approach the ‘integrative kitchen,’ and it’s refreshing and exciting because I, as a home chef and foodie, have done this very same thing for over 5 decades of cooking. Sam is now giving validation to what some of us have believed and practiced for so long—you can take the pointed unhealthy Southern (as well as others too!) fare, foods, dishes, ingredients and make them luxurious, healthy and chic without compromising taste. His work will be like a tsunami rippling beyond wildest expectations. Sam’s recipes and dishes are all created with this foundational concept in mind—simply put ‘you are what you eat!
Sam is intricately involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and they have partnered with him and his diabetes awareness foundation, The Sweet Life Kitchen. He is taking his life experiences, his training as a chef, and his belief that life should not have boundaries–no limits–and help others with diabetes. Because of this I connect with Sam—growing up my son’s epilepsy put no boundaries on him—we pounded that into him. From playing Division I college basketball to being a ‘regular’ college student and then going on to work a grueling career pursing his professional passion, he, like Sam, knows that his only limits are those walls he creates in his mind. My sons’ eating habits as adults have been shaped in some part by the beliefs about food inculcated in them from childhood, by the actual foods they watched me, their Mom, make—foods that were the traditional Southern fare, but with a twist—altering, changing, albeit ever so subtly, and including those from my own Croatian and Mediterranean background and morphing into dishes tasty and healthy!
I’m a Baby Boomer in my third chapter of life. But, without any doubt, I am not a typical boomer, just like Sam Talbot is not your typical chef. He exemplifies my trademark philosophy of life—The Orange Life—squeezing every bit of the sweet nectar of life out of each and every day, doing what’s good for my mind, body and soul, including things like my yoga, snow showing, cycling, camping, and hiking (the Grand Canyon rim to rim!)—then after the juice is gone, zesting for more life! Maybe I’ve helped you understand why I’m adopting Sam Talbot as my fourth son. While the other three are not kitchen gurus or devoted foodies, other than being seekers of healthy food, I now have Sam with whom to share this foodie passion. I think Sam will like my trademark style of cooking, which I call ‘Bohemian Bold’—I might be able to share a recipe or two with him! For sure, Sam has etched an indelible mark on me, and it’s assuredly good to know that he is carrying the torch for healthier generations to come. And, as we say in Southern yoga classess…Nameste y’all!
March 12, 2012 Update…I just received an email today that notified me that I’m a runner-up in the ‘Sam Talbot Blog Contest’…yipppeee skippeeeee…Sam’s sending me his cookbook inscribed personally from him to me!!