Recently Vegan Black Metal Chef videos have been circulating on the internet. They are the brainwave of Brian Manowitz, a black metal musician from Orlando, Florida, who is sure to soon become an internet sensation. The cooking videos are educational, engaging and humorous. As the name suggests, they merge black metal music with vegan cooking. A winning combination for sure! Episode 1 saw the Vegan Black Metal Chef embarking on Pad Thai in the most hilarious way. The 14 minute video sees a cookery lesson over some ear-shredding music with the chef ‘singing’ (if you can call it that!) the recipe as he makes the meal (at one point headbanging while it cooks). Episode 2 appeared a month later and featured ‘Easy Meal Ideas Of The Ages’ while episode 3 focused on Tempura Asparagus Sushi. We at SaveAScream.com are loving the videos – they make us laugh out loud while we’re naturally loving the vegan-ness of them – so much so that we knew we had to get in touch with the Vegan Black Metal Chef for an interview. Read on to find out how he first got into black metal, his plans for a Vegan Black Metal Chef cookery book, and how barbecue hickory riblets rock his world.
SBV: When and how did you get into black metal? What attracts you to black metal?
VBMC: I grew up really mostly on the great Thrash bands of old from a young age... Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, Testament... I believe my first introduction to black metal was in middle school. After I had gotten into King Diamond (not black metal), one of the only other people around me that had heard of King Diamond showed me some Dimmu and Emperor. In the beginning I thought it was pretty good but that the keyboards were gay... I guess it grew on me over the years.
SBV: You decided to make 'Vegan Black Metal Chef' videos to combine your love for black metal and vegan food. Had you made any videos for youtube before this?
VBMC: I had put up some audio recordings a long time ago with some random winamp visuals. The recordings were actually some guided meditations I had made. Other than this I have not made other videos. There are a few youtube videos of me singing Misfits songs in a Misfits cover band I was in for a few shows called The Skulls.
SBV: The videos are humorous as well as educational. Was the intention to make people laugh as well as open their eyes? VBMC: Yes, absolutely. The videos needed to be a thorough explanation of how to make the food but honestly, cooking shows are fucking boring. So I had to entertain myself more than anyone else. However it must also provide the value and interest of showing how to make an awesome dish. If it were only for humour, the joke would get old after about 2 minutes tops.
SBV: I like the bad spelling as it adds to the humorous aspect of the videos. Have you had any comments regarding the spelling of certain words? Were they done on purpose or is spelling not your strongest point?
VBMC: I get tons of comments from the spelling Nazis.... you know who you are... Spelling is definitely not my strongest point but it’s also something I care very little about. After the first video I just continued the trend of not spell checking my words. I do not spell a word wrong on purpose... that would just be dumb... I do however purposely not use spell check. Anything I can do to piss a tight ass spelling and grammar person off in this world is another small victory.
SBV: Would you ever branch out and make different videos, such as perhaps 'Vegan Glam Rock Chef' videos, or videos featuring a different style of music?
VBMC: These videos take a tremendous amount of effort and time... gonna stick with this theme. This is the music I enjoy creating most anyways. Maybe Smooth Jazz Cannibal in the future.
SBV: What did you think of the reaction to the videos?
VBMC: The videos have had an awesome reaction so far, it has been awesome that different people are getting different value from them. Some like the cooking instructions, some like the music, some like the humour, some like all three. Some people that ordinarily don't like any of it, like it. Others hate it. It’s great.
SBV: There have been many well known chefs over the years, such as Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith in the UK. Do you think the world needs a Vegan Black Metal Chef? What do you have that's missing from the cookery world?
VBMC: I think the Vegan Black Metal Chef project adds a few things that the others do not besides Vegan recipes of course... 1) I show cooking the way I feel tastes best above all completely fucking tradition at times where it needs to be fucked. 2) I unashamedly use cooking shortcuts like soup broths, prepared mixes and whatnot...that restaurants use... to make food taste awesome. I have no problem teaching how to prepare ½ way from scratch. No point in reinventing the wheel, as long as it’s good. 3) I want to show people how to cook via concepts and not strict recipes. I will not include strict measurements for anything unless absolutely necessary. To me this keeps some of the fun, creative aspect in cooking and you get to make things how you like it and can adjust if you understand the concepts.
SBV: Who in your opinion are the best black metal bands and why?
VBMC: Wow, this is going to be a discussion... There is such a diversity in styles that it’s hard to compare some bands fairly against each other. I feel Dimmu Borgir is probably at the top of the game in terms of songwriting and production of course. Dimmu has set the bar so high on song writing that it is very hard for other bands or even themselves to reach it anymore. An example is their last CD. Not many Dimmu fans’ absolutely favorite album, but if this was the first album for ANY other band in existence they would be shitting themselves with excitement... daily. It had a few excellent songs but they have just set the bar so high that it’s tough to capture the brutality of ‘Enthroned Darkness’ or ‘Puritanical’ while still trying to expand in the symphonic realm like they appear to be doing.
I am also a big Immortal, Emperor and Naglfar fan among many others. To me ‘legendary’ songwriting is most important for me. I can appreciate and enjoy some amount of static sounding guitar without coherent riffs/parts for a bit but it’s not what I gravitate towards. I like a shit ton of others too, even a ton of totally obscure bands/local bands... Immanifest from Tampa is a really good local black metal band. It all just depends on what I am feeling like at the moment.
SBV: You have your own band/project - Forever Dawn. What are your hopes and aims for the band? Where do you see the band going?
VBMC: Right now I am recording a second album for Forever Dawn and re-recording the first album. We are also making a new, professional stage show and plan on booking shows by the end of this year. This will be something new and interesting for people. Forever Dawn is definitely my main passion and musical expression. For those that have not heard it yet, it is Industrial Symphonic Black Metal. Wait for the new recordings, the old ones kinda suck.
SBV: Do you think your Vegan Black Metal Chef videos showcase black metal in a good light? Are the songs a good representation of the genre as a whole?
VBMC: The genre as a whole is pretty diverse. Everything from static and Satan to the most intricately orchestrated neo-classical blend... and Satan. I am just going to write what I like and have a fairly diverse mix of different black metal styles in there so far. The rest is for you all to decide if you like it or not.
SBV: A lot of people associate metal with wearing leather. As a vegan, tell me about the clothes you wear. Do you wear any vegan/faux leather? Are there any particular cruelty-free clothing or footwear stores that you buy from?
VBMC: Of course as a vegan I do not wear leather... but these days there are tons of leather alternatives. You can even get a ‘biker’ style bad ass non leather/leather looking jacket. And it looks and feels just like leather. In the caption of the first video and on the website it states how the armor I wear is rubber and not leather. I usually just look for the cruelty free alternatives in various conventional stores. It will depend on what country you are from/your location, but all it takes is a little bit of looking to find a small selection of non leather shoes and whatnot. Army navy surplus stores sell a fine cloth belt.
SBV: How old were you when you became vegan? Were you vegetarian before becoming vegan? Did a certain event happen that convinced you to go vegan?
VBMC: I was 19 when I became vegan, I was vegetarian for six months or so before becoming vegan. I had a girlfriend when I was in late high school who became vegetarian. I had thought this was the right way to go at the time but said I was not ready for it yet. Then one day in my first year of college I just asked myself ‘”what am I so afraid of?” She didn't die or anything stupid like that... so I pushed my comfort zone and became vegetarian. Then I happened to go to a student animal rights club meeting one night... saw some videos and said “fuck this, I am becoming vegan.”
SBV: A lot of people don't realize how much vegan food is actually available and what vegan products they can buy - ie. everything from fake bacon to soya cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter and even vegan marshmallows. What vegan substitutes do you recommend people try?
VBMC: First and foremost... as in the video Earth Balance is a pretty amazing vegan butter alternative but not available worldwide as I have found out... They seriously need to give me an endorsement. Honestly, give a bunch of them a try. In the U.S. at least, boca stuff is pretty widely available and some of it is vegan; their fake chicken patties are pretty amazing. Morning Star Farms has a handful of vegan things; their Barbecue Hickory Riblets are fucking good. I like almond milk a lot. People complain about the price of vegan stuff but my grocery bill is honestly really cheap. If you buy produce from farmers markets, Asian stuff from an Asian store, Indian stuff from an Indian store, and just get your processed shit mainly at normal grocery stores... it’s really cheap. If you eat tons of convenience food and buy everything from normal grocery stores... kinda expensive.
SBV: What advice would you give to non-vegans who have seen your videos and might be interested in the vegan lifestyle but not know where to begin?
VBMC: It begins honestly in your mind. The way to do this without it being a struggle is by bringing consciousness to your food and actions every time you eat. Think about where the meat came from, what life it had to live. Probably sooner than later it will become harder to eat the meat than not to eat it. At that point the convenience food is a great help in the transition. You don't have to learn everything at once. Spend a few more bucks, and make it easy on yourself in the beginning while you are learning a whole other set of foods to eat. Once you have this whole other set of foods, everything feels like normal.
SBV: Do you have any plans to put out a cookery book, have a TV show, open a vegan restaurant or anything like that? What's the ultimate dream or wish for the Vegan Black Metal Chef?
VBMC: A cookbook is in the beginning stage of writing, nothing else is out of the question but for a later time. My ultimate dream at the moment is to get many episodes of this going, the blog going strong, a cookbook and getting my band stuff together and tour ready by the end of the year.
SBV: Have you appeared at any events as 'The Vegan Black Metal Chef' or is that something you'd consider doing in the future? For example, the West Midlands Vegan Festival in the UK includes musical performers as well as demonstrations/speeches etc. Would you like to appear at anything like that?
VBMC: A festival called Bumbershoot in Seattle has booked me for labor day weekend for a vegan panel discussion. I am open to booking ideas like this now and when a professional stage show is put together along with my normal music stuff I would be open for musical bookings as well. Speaking at events sounds like fun.
SBV: How often can we expect to find new Vegan Black Metal Chef videos? Is it a monthly thing?
VBMC: Probably about once or twice a month. I need to vary things up to keep myself interested so there may be a week or 2 of downtime while I am doing set design stuff in between groups of episodes. It takes a pretty huge amount of work to make an episode.
SBV: You've mentioned on your website that personal development audio books have nourished your mind. How did becoming vegan nourish your body and mind, and what are you most proud of learning or becoming?
VBMC: This is a great question and one that has evolved for me over time. Aside from the normal health benefits of being vegan, I argue that it is easily one of the most world-changing actions we can do that we have such immediate control over. How much more control can we get than what we pick to go into our mouths? Becoming vegan has nourished my mind by helping me to bring consciousness to my actions more and more. This is what it is all about. I am most proud of becoming a more and more conscious individual who ever strives to live in the present moment with awareness.
SBV: If you could change the world, how would you like to change it?
VBMC: A few different ways... My greatest wish is for myself and others to always think about what they are doing as they do it. This does not have to be a constant state of condemnation or elation... just bring your awareness to your actions so you can at least see things for how they are. Other than that I simply wish to develop myself and share any useful developments that will help people with their lives and the world as a whole. I am also very interested in alternative energy sources and wish to invest in current day technology to generate and store power. I have a few ideas with this I want to try out.