My Story

philMy name is Phil, and this is My Life as a Foodie.

I started this blog to support my podcast, which began in the early Summer months of 2007. The podcast served as an avenue for me to explore food issues and food culture in America, and the world. It caught on quickly and I built a moderate following of listeners, many who became personal friends over the years. As the show grew, so did I. I learned more about food, cooking techniques, new restaurants, and the truth about the food industry with every episode, and I shared that wealth of knowledge with my listeners.

Through that journey and exploration, I packed on over 30 pounds. Since entering my 30’s, my face had become round along with my once slim midsection. I’m not alone in thinking like most people think – it’s part of getting older. You gain weight easier than you did in your teens and twenties. Your metabolism slows down, you’re making more money so you’re eating better and, subsequently, you get fat. It’s almost accepted.

To be honest, I wasn’t fat by most people’s standards. At 6’2″ I weighed in at 206 pounds. But given that I’d been an active amateur athlete my entire life, my fighting weight had always hovered around the 175 pound mark. For my frame, that felt right.

In 2010, my wife Katrina was diagnosed with breast cancer. During her battle, she was faced with the truth about her own health and vowed to lose weight when her treatments and surgeries were behind her. I vowed to get my health back as well, so I started running. I’d never run before. I hated it when I first started. But I knew it was the only way I could get my body back in shape. Within a month, I’d injured my knee and ended up at the doctor’s office. Along with helping me with my knee, the doctor wanted to run a full physical on me to make sure everything was OK when my knee was healed enough for me to resume my exercise regime.

That’s when my blood work came back. The the news was far from good.

My cholesterol was high, my blood sugar was all over the map, and I exceeded the healthy limits of calcium. On top of that, she told me that considering my body style, I should try to drop my weight to under 200 pounds before resuming my running program. All of that pounding wasn’t good for my knees, and it was likely that I’d end up hurting myself again. Her only suggestion was low-impact cardio and a healthy diet.

I was embarrassed. My blood work had always come back well under the danger zone. I started looking at myself more critically in the mirror and grew disdain for the “beer belly” that somehow decided to grace the washboard stomach that I sported in my 20’s.

From that point forward, I started taking my health seriously. I continued everything I was doing on this blog and in my podcast, but I turned things around in regards to my approach. I cut back on fried foods, the multiple beers I drank on a daily basis, ate out less, I exercised 5-6 days a week, and I read everything I could read on the subject of getting my fitness back in the healthiest way possible. I was the most enlightening two years of my life.

Katrina lost her battle with breast cancer on May 25, 2013. She fought valiantly. Her fight was one of the most inspirational things I have ever seen, and will ever see. I live with her loss every day, but I move forward in my own spiritual journey with her memory stuck firmly with me. I vowed to live my life stronger than I ever have, and with a greater sense of purpose than I did before.

So here I am today, 30 pounds lighter, 4 waist sizes smaller, fast on my feet, healthier than I’ve been at any time in my life, all while entering my 50’s. And I’m just as much the “foodie” that I was when I started in 2007 – maybe even more so. Food is my life. I think about it constantly. When I’m not working, I’m cooking or thinking about cooking. Food is fuel for my mind as well as my body.

I welcome you to explore the wonderful world of food with me as I continue my journey to learn and share what I’ve learned about food, nutrition, and a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. It’s just as much about my life as a foodie as it is yours.

Thanks for stopping by.

Phil

32 thoughts on “My Story

  1. Hi Phil,

    I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I really like your podcast. I listen to all the beercasts and got to you new blog from there. Since listening I’m much more aware of what I eat and where my food comes from. Thanks!

    By the way, what do you think of Green Flash’s beers? It just made its way to the east coast (I’m in NYC) and I really like their Double IPA and Barley Wine.

  2. Hi David

    Thanks for your post, I appreciate it! I’m always happy to hear from people who appreciate their food, and where it’s been. With any luck, I’ll be in NYC this year!!

    Green Flash makes some great beer, especially the Double IPA you mentioned, and a very respectable Belgian Trippel. They’re right here in San Diego, but I’ve never visited the brewery – I’m so lazy. 😉 Oddly enough, their most decorated beer (the Extra Pale Ale) is the one beer they brew that I just don’t care for that much.

    Thanks again for checking in, and for listening.

    Cheers,

    Phil

  3. Phil,
    Hello, You may or may not recognize me from the Tiki Chat or have seen my art on Brain Gravy 5 and 6. I have been a long time subscriber to Dude Night, and just found out about this show. I just wanted to give you mad props for doing your own show. I listened to your most recent show last night, and really enjoyed it. Informative and nicely presented.

    Keep up the excellent work. I look foreword to more to come. Good luck.

    Hope to see you around the net.

    Cheers buddy
    Mr. Whiskey

  4. Mr. Whiskey – THANKS for the kind words, and for checking out my podcast. I appreciate that you followed Dude Night as well. I’m sorry we couldn’t continue working on that show, but I feel very strongly about My Life and I plan on putting all of my efforts into it to make it better.

    I am a HUGE fan of your artwork for Brain Gravy. It fits the show to a “T”. That show is a ambient audioscape, very avante garde – so the artwork you create for each episode is dead on, fits very well.

    Thank you again for your posts here, for listening, and for your support. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

    Cheers man,

    Phil

  5. I am going to try this molecular cooking next. It looks really fun. Thanks for sharing. I am always thinking of food too. It’s hard to explain to people why I have this need to learn new techniques with food. It’s just a lot of fun. I am new to the blogging thing, food photography, food presentation, etc…I am enjoying the whole learning process.

    -Tien

  6. Thanks for your comments! It’s always great to hear from other food crazy people! :-) My passion for food comes from a firm belief that it’s the answer to almost all of life’s problems. If you’re hungry, you’re going to be grumpy. Eat this, it will make you feel better.

    Food changes things, and good food changes everything. So if I’m going to eat, I want to make it count.

    Thanks again for visiting the site, and for taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me.

  7. hey Phil

    you may know my dad, jesse, i love your podcast. I cant wait to here the show about molecular cooking i hope it goes well

  8. Thanks Justin! Your dad and I go way way back. He was a mad guitarist in his day, and I have the jam session tapes to prove just what a bad ass on the axe he really was (and probably still is).

    Thanks for listening. I hope to bring all that I learn in our class to the show in a couple of weeks. I appreciate you taking the time to drop me your message.

    Cheers, and keep cooking!

    Phil

  9. Phil,

    I have been subscribing to your podcast for over a year now (since October 2008), and I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your show. I share many of your views about eating local, and my respect for farming and farmers is on par with yours. I am a 25 year veteran of the foodservice industry, most recently as DIrector of Operations for Bon Appetit at the Getty Center, where local and sustainable have been the cornerstones of the business model for years and years. But I have done just about every restaurant job there is.

    Anyhow, I thought I’d reach out to you and say hello before my new tv show, “Food Tech,” debuts on History Channel next Thursday. The show explores how Americans get their food, from farms and factories to the dinner table.

    Lots of things that we cover will rile you (Phil) up, as the network mostly likes to cover the biggest farms and factories. This is (mostly) not a show about small artisan manufacturers or the slow food movement. It is a non-judgmental look at how most people in America get fed.

    The first episode, “Cheeseburger and Fries,” will especially bother you, I am guessing, as we cover feed lots and massive corporate potato and tomato farms. More importantly, we talk to American workers whose livelihood depends on these companies.

    But in later episodes, we visited smaller, family-run businesses, like Volpi Salumeri (a 100-year-old family run sausage maker), and The Terraces Winery, where the owner makes balsamic vinegar in his garage that takes over 25 years to mature. So I hope that you watch and enjoy the show, and look at it as an educational tool for your listeners. If we get a second season, you can bet that I will be lobbying hard for more “eat local” stories.

    Anyhow, I like your show a lot, and thought that before you just start giving me the Paula Deen treatment, that I would take a second and say hello!

    Happy New Year, and good eating!

    Sincerely,
    Bobby Bognar

  10. Hi Phil,

    Just wanted to lend my support to your view on farms. I am totally there with you!

    I truly believe the way this country eats, treats food, and in particular, land use, is appalling and unsustainable. If we look at food as sources of nutrients and how we are what we eat, we need to consider good farm land. That means less destruction of farm lands for worthless mcmansions. If we destroy less land for needlessly large new homes, then we have less suburban sprawl. Less sprawl means less traffic and fewer lands destroyed for big roads. Less traffic means fewer cars. Fewer cars means less dependence on foreign oil. Fewer cars also means more sustainable transportation and more walking. More walking means less obesity. Less obesity means healthier people. Healthier people means lower healthcare.

    If people eat from more locally sourced foods, they will care about their environment more,less pollution. They will eat healthier, higher demand for “organic” and thereby reducing the premium cost that the “certified organic” cabal has imposed on conscientious eaters. Eating healthier organic foods means healthier people, happier farmers, more land preservation – so on. That is the key to a better society, better planet, better world, better life.

    Thanks Phil!

  11. Thanks for the support AK. I appreciate that. I’m very proud that our country, as a whole, have had the much needed wake up call. Farmers Markets are rising in popularity, more people are growing their own vegetables at home, and families are cooking and eating together more than ever before.

    You keep fighting the good fight! It’s good to hear from like minded people.

    Cheers to you, AK!

  12. Hi There,
    Did you get my long message or did it get lost? Oh well. I love your site and videos. You’re great in front of the camera!
    Did you get much out of the conference? I loved Penny and the Science gang, should have gone on the kitchen tour. I would have loved to see it!
    Great site!
    Best,
    Mary

  13. Phil,

    I read your stuff because I am a Facebook friend of Rick Sellers. I am a homebrewer, I have been a commercial Micro-Brewer and a Brewing Consultant for U.S.A.I.D. in Central Asia. I have been a “bat shit crazy” foodie since I started having to feed myself at 13 years old.

    I look forward to reading a watching your stuff and possibly developing a rapport with you. I too am not a pro, but I have a few chops and I love learning new ones. Last Saturday I fed 80 people at the California State Homebrew Competition in Stern Grove, San Francisco. The menu was: Apple Wood Smoked Pulled Pork with dw’s Spicy Apricot Barbecue Sauce, Bulls-Eye and See Jesus Barbecue Sauce. Lemon/Pepper Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs, dw’s Broccoli Coleslaw, Garden/Spinach Tossed Salad with choice of dressing, Rice Pilaf and Sweet Sandwich Rolls. They ate it all.

    Thanks for posting your efforts and,

    Bon Apetiti,

    Donn

    1. Thanks for all of your kind words on the blog and podcast, Donn. I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to not only check it all out, but comment. It’s always great to hear from brewers too. You’re all doing God’s work, my friend.

      It would be great to meet you one of these days. It’s always great to meet new “bat shit crazy” foodies who think about this stuff as much as I do. The sheer fact that you fed 80 people at once is far more impressive than anything I’d ever try to accomplish. You sound like Sean Paxton!

      Cheers my friend. Thanks again!

      1. I know Sean, a little bit through homebrewing, I can’t carry his tools, though I have volunteered to do so. HaHaHa I’ve been cooking for groups for years, and I’m getting better at it. This was my first year to cook for the State Comp, for 14 years I was the Cellarmaster.

        I would enjoy meeting you too, and actually meeting our mutual friend Rick Sellers as well (I met Rick on Facebook.) We might think about cooking up a “Brewer’s Dinner” with his people and other notable Northern California Brewers. I was inspired reading about Sean’s “Stinky Dinner” at Firestone Walker last Friday, WOW! But it would be cool to do something similar. I love talking about food, so I’m sure I will be commenting.

        There are only so many ingredients, it’s a finite list. And there are only so many methods, which change food into interesting and appetizing forms. Yet somehow mankind has managed to make an almost infinite number of variations on a theme. As Sean once said “Name a culture that doesn’t use an ONION!” I can relate to your fascination, I share it and I am going to introduce you to Wayne Abraham in Hemet, CA. down south, you will like my dear friend Wayne.

        Keep On, Cookin’ On. . .

        Donn

  14. Phil,
    I have been listening to your podcast for quite a while now and must
    tell you , being a chef/caterer & avid home-brewer your topics are always
    interesting and informative. You get your message across in a very creative
    and fun maner and never fail to totally crack me up. Anyway, keep the good
    stuff comin. Also, I was catching up on some of my blogs & thought of you
    when I saw this video. Hope you enjoy.
    Mark
    http://www.brewingtv.com/episodes/2010/11/17/brewing-tv-episode-25-surly-brewing-company.html

    1. Mark, that video was bad ass dude! Thanks for sharing that with me. I haven’t spent a lot of time on Brewing TV, but I sure as hell plan on spending some now.

      Thank you for saying all of those nice things about my show, man. I appreciate it to begin with, but they carry much more weight coming from a chef/brewer who knows what he’s talking about. I really appreciate that you take the time to listen and that you came by to share some love brother.

      Cheers, and keep on keeping on!

  15. Hi Phil!

    I came by to see if you ever went to med school and got that PhD. I’m sorry you and those you loved had to face tough times. I hope you are doing much better now.

    Dr. J

    1. Thanks man. Never did med school, but I got my PhD in kicking ass a long time ago and still going strong.

      Appreciate your kind words, brother. It was a horrible struggle, but it only made me stronger.

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