Heil Seitan!

If watching someone sacrifice garlic on a pentagram “altar” (it’s a granite cutting board, but go with the fantasy), use casual profanity, or periodically yell “Heil Seitan!” offends you, then this is definitely not the show (or the post) for you. If it makes you laugh or want to make Pad Thai, then the Vegan Black Metal Chef [VBMC] is your guy.

Here’s where spelling becomes important. To illustrate:

  • Hail – a greeting like “Hail fellow, well met!” or describing someone’s origin like “He hails from Orlando, Florida,” or ice crystals (or bullets, more metaphorically) falling out of the sky.
  • Heil – is the German origin word for “hail” in the greeting sense.
  • He-ll – as in “Hell, no” is a mispronunciation. Don’t do it.
  • Satan – is the ambiguous evil supernatural being of Christian religious mythology (shared to an extent by all three of the Abrahamic religions).
  • Satin – a silky fabric usually used for lingerie.
  • Seitan – a soy-based food that vegans use as a meat substitute.

And that brings us to what must surely be the 2015 answer to Cookin’ Cheap, the Vegan Black Metal Chef, occasionally known as Brian Manowitz.

I’m a committed omnivore, and I don’t particularly like death metal music, but I’ve become a little obsessed with VBMC. For a guy wearing KISS makeup, using the most ridiculous props for basic food prep, and with special effects like flame explosions thrown in, his videos are surprisingly relatable. He’s not a professional chef and doesn’t expect you to be either.

Instead of listing ingredients and describing each careful step of his recipe, VBMC just jumps right in there. His “recipes” are in death metal song/spoken word format with heavy orchestration (there are helpful subtitles). He’s not above using prepackaged food (he’s inordinately fond of sriracha sauce) and when he uses a mace to cut onions, things get messy.

As the name implies, the Chef does not use any meat or animal-derived products. For him, it is a matter of conscience. But there is a lot that Po’ Folks who can take away from that, regardless of your beliefs about cruelty, exploitation of our fellow creatures or factory farming.  For starters, it’s cheap. Vegans are pretty limited as to where and what they can eat, so learning to cook at home is a necessity. Learning to vary one’s diet so that eating isn’t a boring drudge is also a necessity.

Watching the Chef prepare a meal – Soupocalypse being a great example – makes you feel like anybody could do it. And anybody could. The episodes build cooking skills, if viewed in sequential order. If viewed randomly, then they become inspirational episodes, like “What should I make for dinner?” He even makes a Holiday Hell Roast, in case you’re ever called upon to make tofurkey for Christmas or Thanksgiving or another fancy holiday occasion.  

After four years of public cooking, the Vegan Black Metal Chef has launched a crowd funding campaign to produce a hardcover fully-illustrated cookbook. Although he has already reached his funding minimum, there are many incentives to an early buy-in, if you are thus inclined. If you are too broke for tofurkey, then watch the videos, have a laugh (and prepare a vegan meal or two along the way). His book should be out by December, and I wish him the best of luck!

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