Food Talk with Chef Allie…
Ricky - So you are like a badass chef, what got you interested in the world of cooking?
Allie - Thanks! I have actually been cooking my whole life, and started in a restaurant the day I was old enough to work. My first library book was when I was 8, and it was a Cuban cookbook that I made caldo y pollo and Cuban bread. This year is my 20th year cooking!
Ricky - Wow! I didn’t realize you had been cooking that long! That is amazing dude! What is your favorite style of cuisine to cook?
Allie - I like to learn about culture and cuisines from the farthest reaches of the earth. When we are schooled in America (and a lot of Europe) we are taught French technique, and it ends up that most finer dining food is driven by that base. I decided that I would like to be educated in different ways, to expand both mind and palate. Currently I make Gujarati Indian cuisine, and I’ll say it’s my favorite. My cooking partner’s mom and dad are immigrants from Gujarat, India; she will come and teach me the heritage recipes of their family.
Ricky - That is amazing to get to learn from her first hand. You’ve been traveling the world for awhile now and you share a lot from those adventures, both food and other experiences. Where have you enjoyed visiting the most so far?
Allie - That is a hard one to pick! Some of it is dining at “the best restaurants” in the world, and some of it is learning how to make poke with a local on Easter Island. I’ve been lucky enough to experience some really badass things in my travels. I also find that the greatest food experiences can come from just anywhere, with a bit of research.
Ricky - That sounds awesome! If you could be a chef anywhere in the world, where would you wanna be?
Allie - I would want to learn in India from an auntie and in South Korea. Also the cuisine of islands is fascinating because they are a microcosm of cuisine that is both indigenous and influenced heavily by colonization.
Ricky - That’s cool. I can definitely see those places fitting your personality as well. What else are you passionate about besides cooking?
Allie - Well, travel is a close second! In a creative aspect it all circles around food. I love to learn and decidedly look forward to being hungry! I collect antique Japanese knives, cookbooks, and memories. The last bastion is making art in the form of photography/modeling. I of course hold out for you though. Nobody gets the idea and captures the emotion like you do.
Ricky - Man, that means alot! You and I have a different kinda connection that the typical model/photographer relationship. I think my favorite shoot still is hanging out vibing to records while we were shooting film. It was just so raw and honest. You’ve got quite the record collection! How important is music in your life?
Allie - That one was way epic!! Especially the extra special Polaroids! And man, I can’t believe I forgot to talk about music. I wake up with a song in my head every day of my life, and music fills my day and my soul always. I am currently on a 3 year classic country kick that speaks to me in a profound way. I love death metal, funk and soul, psych rock, blues, punk- just so many things! Often times I will say I love music only slightly less that food, which is like 110%
Ricky - I was kinda surprised you didn’t bring up music earlier. What would be your 5 albums if you were stranded on a desert island?
Allie - What a ditz moment! And a heavy question hahaha…So London Calling by The Clash, Hung at Heart by The Growlers, a Marty Robbins compilation, Whisper Supremacy by Cryptopsy, and Changes by Charles Bradley. All essential and spanning the spectrum some so you get a taste of everything. The year I turned 19 I listened to London Calling every day! And about 5 years ago I got hooked on The Growlers and burnt it up. Also an essential set of songs for life by Charles Bradley- especially his rendition of Changes. And naturally a nice bit of that silly classic country from Marty Robbins, who’s vocals are like cool water on a hot day.
Ricky - Good choices dude! You and I recently had a conversation. You mentioned briefly earlier in this about modeling. Some folks may not put two and two together, but you used to model under the name of Miss Voodoo Valentine. Recently you and I were talking and how you explained it to me was there were two parts of who you were, you and her. You went through some things and she just kind of fell away. And Allie was who was left. I thought it was beautifully said. Who is Allie today?
Allie - It was definitely a tough moment in my life. To me modeling is to make art. It is fun to make pretty pictures, sexy pictures, whatever- but in my head the valuation system is about creating something with gravitas and emotion. When I came through that bad stuff in one piece, I was at a point where I could finally reconcile the way I look outwardly and who I am on the inside. I suppose having a nom de plume had been a vehicle for me to go forward with whatever art I wanted and not have to answer to anyone. When I came to realize who I am, I became comfortable with the whole me. In turn, the moniker was dropped and I left the magazines and sponsors and all that behind. I am a chef and in love with what I do; not to say I don’t love the folks that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or the things I’ve had the honor to be a part of. I can be a model too, but it no longer defines a section of my person.
Ricky - I really like that. Allowing things to be a part of who you are but not defining you. I find that very inspiring because I see a lot of people who really draw their self-worth and identity from it. What would you tell people still in that place?
Allie - I would tell them to give themselves love and grace! There is no wrong in enjoying your visage, and your self-worth comes from your whole you. Accepting that it can come from being proud of a picture is wonderful, and as we walk our path in life they may find deeper meaning in what they create. Even if they don’t, appreciating who they are in every phase of life makes it worth living.
Ricky - I love that Allie! Dude, I wanna thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Where can folks who are up in Nashville go to experience your cooking?
Allie - My restaurant is called Tailor! It is a dinner party/tasting menu with some stories about the heritage of our Gujarati Indian cuisine. It is a complete honor to learn from Vivek Surti and his mom the rich and delicious cuisine of their family.
Ricky - Very cool! Hopefully some folks come by and check it out! It was an honor my friend!