What ruins a healthy diet?
It’s not sugar, or alcohol, or any single temptation or vice. It’s far more insidious than that:
When you limit yourself to certain foods and eliminate others, it’s easier on your brain to prepare (and eat) the same meals over and over again. Having to plan meals that fit into your diet becomes stressful and time consuming.
But we’re genetically wired to crave variety. Your tastebuds know that in order to achieve optimal nutrition, you need to eat a wide range of flavors and textures. You get bored when you eat chicken and broccoli for every meal not because that’s the most boring meal ever invented (which it is) but because it’s in your nature to crave variety.
This is why we’re beyond excited to introduce you to our incredible new Executive Chef!
Chef Risto Danailov has a love of international culture and cuisine and has traveled the world with his wife finding food inspiration everywhere he goes. As a child in Macedonia, Chef Risto watched his mother and grandmother prepare incredible meals from scratch – and learned that quality food is an essential ingredient to good living. He believes that food is one of the few common denominators that links all people, and brings a unique combination of international flavors to the table.
We sat down with Chef Risto to find out what makes him tick.
What led you to become a Chef? Who are your biggest influences?
As a child, I watched my mother and grandmother cooking feasts and creating delicious comfort food from scratch. Besides the two of them, Anthony Bourdain and Aaron Sanchez are my biggest professional influences.
What is your favorite style of food to eat?
Authentic Mexican — the way people cook it in their homes.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook? Why?
It’s a combination of Italian and Mexican, with an Asian twist to it. Those three styles all seem so different at first, but they actually use a lot of similar ingredients. When you pair the different techniques together, you get some really interesting and tasty flavor profiles.
What are your favorite meals on the new Factor menu? Why?
Mongolian Beef and Broccoli, Jambalaya, and the Steak Fajitas. All three of those dishes are deceptively simple and familiar but man, they are PACKED with flavor!
What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
I read a ton of food and beverage magazines and blogs. I watch videos. I attend restaurant and food vendor shows. Basically I’m obsessed.
How do you ensure the quality of your ingredients and overall meal quality?
It all starts when the ingredient reaches the receiving area in the kitchen. Each ingredient is inspected by hand, and only the highest quality ones are accepted. But high quality ingredients are just the beginning — we have to stay super tight with our cooking technique, and remain consistent with our recipes, as we’re creating so many dishes at one time. This is where high quality people come in… and we have those, too.
What role does nutrition and nutrient density play in your menu design?
Not many places provide an optimal balance of nutrients in their meals. Every time I design a meal (or a menu) I put myself on the consumer end of the deal, and ask myself what I’d want to eat. Then I choose the highest quality ingredients, and tweak the recipe to fit into the Paleo or Ketogenic diet.
How’d you learn to create such satisfying meals that still provide optimal nutrition?
At my last two jobs (one at a casino and another at a country club) many of our members that had some sort of restriction in their diet: low sodium, low cholesterol, dairy free, gluten free, nut free, soy free, etc. I did a lot of experimenting based on what they could and couldn’t eat, the best ingredients I could find, and the flavor I wanted to create. Honestly, when you focus on what you CAN eat instead of what you CAN’T eat, and you use the best ingredients (like free range protein and organic produce from local farms), you can enjoy amazing meals — no matter what your restrictions are.
What appeals to you about working with Factor?
The opportunity to create healthy comfort food, and the high standards we set on our ingredient quality.
What’s something you’re most proud of?
In 2015 I was named one of the 40 Most Successful Macedonian Professionals outside of the country.
Lightning round! What’s your favorite…
Panna cotta with balsamic strawberries. (Um. Can we make that a Factor meal sometime soon?)
…music to cook to?
Classic rock including: AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and sometimes Metallica.
Banana and peanut butter.
Traditional beef stew, or braised spare ribs. It’s a tie.
**To check out our brand new Winter menu, click here.