Nathan Lyon's culinary credo is simple: Great food starts fresh. He spreads this belief via his vivacious personality across many mediums. He captivates viewers on his current television show—Growing a Greener World on PBS— and mesmerizes readers with the recipes and photos in his new cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh. He is a Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Ambassador, avid photographer, seriously skilled stained glass artist, and self-proclaimed TCHO addict.
How did you hear about TCHO?
“I was in San Francisco, visiting the Ferry Plaza farmers market, and, latte in hand, walked a few hundred steps, and there I discovered a mecca of chocolate—TCHO. I think I even heard cherubs. Really.”
What do you most wish TCHO had?
“I would love to see a huge chocolate river and waterfall put in at the TCHO factory (read: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) for people to fully immerse themselves in. Possible?”
Describe the moment when you knew you were meant to be in the culinary world.
“When I made a flaming Banana’s Foster for my grandparents (I was 7 years old). I remember them smiling and clapping and enjoying themselves through my food creation. It was then that I realized the power that food has to bring people together and bring happiness to people’s lives.”
What drives your approach to cooking and baking?
“Mother nature, seasonal cooking, and using the freshest of ingredients.”
You’ve devoted an entire chapter (really—an entire chapter!) in your new cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, to chocolate. Why?
“My cookbook is broken down into the 5 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Chocolate. Chocolate is a universal season, beloved by all, and can be enjoyed all year long!”
You teach about healthy eating habits; how do you teach people that chocolate can be part of healthy eating habits (and that healthy eating habits doesn’t mean having to eat just carrot sticks and celery)?
“If you have to choose between a triple-decker chocolate caramel-crusted cheesecake or a high quality piece of chocolate, quality wins! It’s a very satiating experience to eat high quality foods, therefore you don’t need to eat a lot to fully experience the rich, wonderful flavors that chocolate has to offer.”
Lots of studies have been going around lately about chocolate: the miracle food that can increase your work-out up to 40%, has loads of antioxidants, the theobromine’s great for energy…and the list goes on. So, is chocolate really a health food?
“Chocolate has wonderful attributes, and, like all foods, should be enjoyed in moderation. Of course, that is, unless you have some chocolate ganache and real vanilla bean ice cream and a spoon. In which case, hand it over, bub.”
Favorite thing you’ve made with TCHO?
“My Chocolate Pot de Crème with a nice drizzle of my Vanilla Caramel Sauce! Whoa. It’s sweet chocolate creamy deliciousness.”
Check out Chef Nathan Lyon’s incredible Pot de Crème recipe here.