MODEL MAN: JOEY SLOMOWITZ

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Joey Slomoitz has a love for life, but not just his own. A born thrill-seeker, he’s been utilizing his modeling career to see the world. But there’s more to Joey than enviable abs, an Australian accent and a chiseled jawline. Mr. Slomowitz is a passionate animal and social justice advocate, a parkour and surfing enthusiast and musician, and an optimist when it comes to the fashion industry. I asked Joey about his life, his career and to share some advice.

Joshua Katcher: Were you “discovered” or did you pursue modeling? If so, why?

Joey Slomowitz: I was actually discovered when I was seventeen at a performing arts competition in my hometown in Sydney, Australia. At first I thought modeling seemed silly and a ridiculous pursuit for me, but I eventually decided to give it a go. I started to enjoy it after my first few jobs and became more interested later on after finding out about the opportunity for travel.

JK: How did you come to veganism and what’s it like being vegan in the fashion industry? Are they compatible?

JS: I remember removing red meat from my diet when I was seventeen after having a phone conversation with a friend about trying to eliminate heavy foods and improving overall health. Eventually we came to have a similar discussion about milk and eliminated that too. Gradually, as our overall knowledge of health and nutrition improved, the last thing we were eating was fish. Then when I was twenty, I watched “Earthlings” narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. At this point I gained so much knowledge about the moral and ethical side of consuming; with food, clothing as well as entertainment and consumer goods that I chose to go vegan all the way.

I do believe being a vegan in the modeling industry is a compatible matchup. Even with the challenge of rejecting jobs where fur is used and at times, having to compromise on wearing leather and wool products, I personally believe there is always the possibility to influence those around me and make a difference in the minds of people creating the designs and setting the trends. I believe being a vegan model is something bigger; it’s the responsibility of being a role model.

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JK: Have you ever refused to wear something, or walked off a shoot? Why?

JS: I have always refused to wear fur for jobs in the past. Fortunately I haven’t had to walk off from previous jobs as my outfit was able to be switched out. I’ve seen the horrible processes undertaken in manufacturing fur and I could not possibly stand to promote this by wearing anything made with it.

JK: What would you change about the fashion industry if you could?

JS: I would of course want every designer to make their clothing without sourcing any animal products. What most people don’t realise is that manufacturing animal products (furs, wools and leathers) as a textile is completely hazardous to the environment and that there is nothing ‘natural’ about them. In fact, furs and leathers in particular need to be dipped into a pool of chemicals in order to prevent them from rotting away. As a result, ground water surrounding these manufacturing sites becomes completely polluted and results in health problems for residents located in the area.

I would want to encourage designers to take the approach of creating lifetime products as opposed to fast fashion apparel. I would encourage designers to value the use of recycled materials in their products and reduce their ecological footprint. On top of that, I would want designers to opt for having their products only made in manufacturing facilities that are local, pay fair wages to their workers and provide fair working conditions. In time, I would hope that all manufacturing facilities around the world are raised to an agreed international standard for fair conditions and pay.

JK: How do you internalize the idea that society views your physical body and face as ideal? How do people treat you because you’re good-looking?

JS: If someone tells me I’m handsome, I usually contort my face in the weirdest way I can and say ‘thank you!’. A good sense of humour is often the best start. Otherwise, I don’t think that I am necessarily the ‘ideal’ in physical features. No-one’s perfect. I’m usually too big for the clothing they give me. My understanding is that companies want to use people of different and interesting features to sell their goods. I guess people with elongated limbs such as myself are a good fit.

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JK: I’ve seen you doing back flips and parkour. How else do you stay strong and healthy?

JS: I exercise every day and eat as well as I can. Often beginning the day with an intense ten minute core routine, I always follow up with a healthy bowl of porridge (oats or buckwheat) and a cup of tea. Throughout the day I eat plenty of fruit and veggies and snack on nuts and seeds whilst also trying to eat as many leafy greens as I can. One of my best discoveries last year was hemp seed. Hemp seed has all the essential amino acids and contains up to 30 grams of protein per 100 grams. Rice and beans or rice and lentils are also a staple for me. I also make sure to try out different exercise classes and different workout groups. At the moment, the cold winter has lead me to start taking yoga classes on a daily basis. During the summer however, I was helping to lead group workout sessions for free in the park. I’ve also recently fallen in love with surfing, but that will have to wait until I can find some warm weather.

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JK: Books, music and art. What is inspiring you right now?

JS: I recently read “Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida; a great book about understanding the polarity between masculine and feminine energies, as well as owning your masculinity and living your best life.

I play guitar and sing so am often looking for artists whose songs I can study that will take me to the next level of skill and playing ability. The start of last year, I was obsessed with learning songs by the Beatles. Right now I’m studying John Mayer.

A couple of months ago I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was inspired by an amazing mural by Thomas Hart Benton. The mural portrayed scenes of American workers from the 1930s industrial era. There are so many things about that period that I find timeless.

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JK: Have you acquired a sense of style since working in fashion? What fashion tips do you have for other guys who may not have been dressed by many stylists?

JS: A couple of year ago, I met a stylist here in New York that introduced to me an aesthetic of menswear which I found has remained constant throughout time. To me it meant acquiring some great one time purchase pieces that are designed to last a lifetime. This included items such as raw Japanese denim, a good pair of vegan boots and some cool vintage men’s workwear. I’m definitely inspired by men’s workwear from the introduction of denim jeans in the late 1800s right up until the 1970s. This lines up perfectly with my aesthetic.

I think most people have an idea of how they want to dress, but they’re far too influenced by the marketing of chains that make clothing for the masses. I would say keep in mind what appeals to you and go check out the vintage shops as well as the thrift shops. Shopping around this way, there is always something for everyone and it will be far more individual. You’ll also be recycling and reducing your ecological footprint by not buying anything new.

JK: What must we all try?

JS: Firstly, I think everyone should try a plant based diet after reading up on how to do it properly and all the amazing benefits. If done right, it’s the most amazing and progressive thing we could do for our bodies as well as the ecosystems and the environment.

Someone wise once told me “you will only regret the things in life that you didn’t do”. I’m a big advocate of doing things where there is an incredible sense of adventure. I recently went to Hawaii and had an incredible experience on a dangerous 3 peak mountain hike in Oahu. We should always try things we really want to do that we are also afraid of.

HEALTHY HERO: CHEF DAN STRONG

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Photos by JP Bevins

Chef Dan Strong is co-owner of one of New York City’s most sought-after food stands. I’ve waited on many a long line for Chickpea & Olive’s famed Phatty Beet Slider as earlier customers walk by groaning in pleasure. With his partner Danielle Ricciardi, the duo are one of the city’s power couples reshaping the gastronomic landscape.  In this third installment of LÄRABAR’s Healthy Hero series, we spend an afternoon with Chef Strong as he shares an amazing mazemen recipe and features a cherry pie LÄRABAR crusted Zabaglione. We get to hear what inspires this butcher-turned-vegan chef, what frustrates and calls to him, and we even get some insight into what he soon plans to ferment.

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Joshua Katcher: I’ve eaten your food and it’s awesome. What is your creative process for developing new foods?
Chef Dan Strong:
Inspiration, procrastination, exasperation, coffee, serve the first draft, and keep adjusting until I have a recipe. Often Danielle and I will find a recipe for something we miss and then I will try to rebuild each piece. For thanksgiving I found a Bon Appetit recipe for cornbread stuffing with pears and banger sausage. So first step, find an authentic cornbread recipe and test it until I have a solid vegan version. Then I turn to the next piece. I imagine it’s like any of the creative processes that I can’t do: draw on inspiration, figure out how to make it authentic, and then adapt it to reflect a noble truth.

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JK: Chickpea & Olive has a huge following. What is it like to maintain such a sought-after brand in New York City?
DS:
It’s an honor. I go into work everyday and feel obligated to make each dish better than it was the day before. I don’t know if I’m always successful, but I always try. Maybe it’s a little salt on the bread, or the three layers of sauce on our phatty melt, or a little extra sear on the burger. I like to think that those little details get translated to our customers. They might not be able to put their finger on what made their sandwich “so good”, but they have to go tell their friends about it.

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JK: The mainstream culinary community seems to look down upon vegan cuisine, yet so many exciting things are happening with it. How do you account for this disconnect?
DS:
Change always starts when the artists pick it up. Next, Alinea, Picholine, Gramercy Tavern, Del Posto, Per Se…. Every one of them has a vegan tasting menu. Jean George Vongerichten is opening a plant based restaurant. I see that the food culture is moving in that direction, but I’m still frustrated every time someone looks at our menu and sneers. But hey, the way I see it, the 6th mass extinction is already underway. Why grumble?

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JK: Tell us about the food you made today.
DS:
We have a buckwheat somen mazemen in miso-shiitake gravy, with pan roasted mushrooms, okra, bokchoy, snow peas, and grilled tempeh in a chili black bean marinade. For dessert we went Italian with a cashew zabaglione, and we used LÄRABAR for the crust.

Buckwheat Mazemen (family size)

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Broth:
• 8 quarts water
• 1 pound dry shiitake mushrooms or 2 pounds mushroom stems
• 1/2c Shiro miso


Tempeh marinade:
• 1/4c spicy black bean paste
• 1/4c stir fry sauce
• 2tbsp soy sauce
• 2tbsp peanut oil

2lb soba noodles

1/2lb each:
• Okra, trimmed and split in half
• bokchoy, cleaned and cut in cross-sections
• snow peas
• tempeh

1/4lb each:
• oyster mushrooms, rough chopped
• shiittake mushrooms, rough chopped

Aromatics:
• 1 shallot, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, diced
• 1 inch ginger, diced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Bring water to a simmer, and add the miso and the mushroom stems. Toast half of the chopped garlic, shallots, and ginger in a pan with a little oil until caramelized and add to the pot of water. Simmer for 1 hour.

2. cut tempeh into 1 inch cubes and marinate over night, or at least for a few hours. assemble on a lined sheet tray and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.

3. pan roast the mushrooms with oil in batches until golden brown, seasoning each batch with salt. Toast the remaining garlic, ginger, and shallots until caramelized and toss all of the mushrooms back into the pan. Stir until the mushrooms and aromatics are fully incorporated.

4. remove the mushrooms stems from the broth with a spider or strainer and bring the broth to a boil. Blanch the snow peas, the bokchoy and the okra in the broth in batches, removing each ingredient after and running under cold water. This step is especially important for the okra.

5. cook the noodles in the broth for 5-6 minutes and remove a portion to each serving bowl. Return the vegetables to the broth, add the mushrooms and let the pot return to a simmer, then ladle the broth over the noodles. Garnish with the baked tempeh.

 

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JK: You used LÄRABAR to make a really good dessert. What about LÄRABAR do you like? Do you have a favorite flavor?
DS:
 LÄRABARs are simple, delicious, and remind me of many of my favorite desserts. I ate the blueberry muffin today, it was excellent, but peanut butter cookie is my favorite.

Larabar-Crusted Cashew Zabaglione


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• 1  cup water
• 1/2 cup cashews
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tbsp marsala
• 1 cherry larabar

1. combine everything but the larabar in a high speed blender and puree until creamy. transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. set aside.

2. place the larabar in between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out with a rolling pin or a bottle of marsala wine until its about an 8th of an inch thick. line the inside of a ramekin with the larabar roll-up. press into the corners.

3. pour the cashew mixture into the ramekin and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours until the custard sets.

4. garnish with marsala wine reduction or sprinkle with caster sugar and brûlée with a torch.

 

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JK: Where do you get most inspired when buying ingredients?
DS:
In my early days I used to wander the markets in Chinatown for inspiration. Nowadays I go mushroom foraging whenever I have a chance. When I don’t have time for all of that I go to union square farmers market. Lani’s farm has an amazing organic selection with all sorts of weird looking root vegetables, and sweet berry mountain farms has something in the order of 6 varieties of heirloom fingerling potatoes. The German butterballs are incredible.

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JK: Have you discovered any new foods that you’re excited about using?
DS:
Not so much “using” as making. We have started along hummus recently, and that project has gotten me interested in other packaged products. I want to start fermenting pickles and cheeses, and I found a tofu misozuke recipe that I’m excited about. LÄRABAR was fun to use as well. The ingredients like date, cherry and almond, are fantastic for chefs because they’re simple and versatile. They’re great on their own, but in this case it was a convenient way to make a tasty, gluten-free crust.

JK: Aside from gastronomy, what else do you spend time doing?
DS:
Binging on NPR, yoga, fantasy novels, and therapy.

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JK: What must we all try? (Food or not)
DS:
If I had my chance to be a dictator? Everyone would have mandatory therapy. I also think everyone should try a plant based diet. I’m vegan because as I see it veganism is a form of protest. The plant based diet that comes with that protest has made me healthier than I’ve ever been.

JK: What does the future hold for Chickpea & Olive?
DS:
Fast casual restaurants, tinned and potted products, packaged dips and spreads. And then I want to diverge and try to do a trattoria, a bistro, and a noodle shop. Danielle wants a juice bar and a raw shop. Maybe also a saprophytic mushroom farm! And a creamery! And a cheese cellar! But I digress.

 

HEALTHY HERO: JOSHUA KATCHER

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 photos by JP Bevins

Joshua Katcher grew up with a fascination for comic book heroes and villains, listening to punk rock and believing he could change the world for animals. Today, Katcher has maintained those idealistic roots, knowing that a strong physical body, a commitment to pushing boundaries and an entrepreneurial and academic pursuit of creating aspiration and desire with sustainable, vegan fashion is a powerful formula that works. In our second installation of Healthy Hero, LÄRABAR, respected for their simple, real ingredients that you can recognize, asked The Discerning Brute to turn the camera back on our founder and editor. Contributor Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD asks the questions.
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MR: What is it like to be a entrepreneur and educator in New York City?
JK: It’s a lot of work! I mean seven days a week, morning-to-night (and sometimes middle-of-the-night) kind of work. But when you work for yourself and you teach subject matter about which you’re passionate, it becomes the kind of work you’re excited and fulfilled to do. In February I’ll be starting my second semester teaching at Parsons The New School. I’ll also be going into my fifth year as a business owner with Brave GentleMan and my seventh year with TheDiscerningBrute.com. There’s something about New York City that is both thrillingly motivating in collaborating and what we have access to, but also terrifying in what we’re up against. Almost everyone I know here has a lot on the line, but we manage to forge ahead and have fun, too.

MR: Demanding work isn’t just tough on the mind, it’s tough on the body. How do you stay physically strong and healthy?
JK: Veganism and crossfit. I started doing crossfit almost three years ago and it’s the first time in my life I’ve actually had fun working out and seen significant results. At this point I go several times a week because I love it. I belong to a local cossfit gym where the coaches are fantastic and the athletes have become friends. I initially gave crossfit a try because I had a neck injury from a car accident. After trying acupuncture, yoga, massage and physical therapy, I was told I’d need surgery. I refused and believed that if I could build up my muscles, it would heal. Crossfit was the only thing that worked, and years later I’m pain-free and doing things I never thought I would.

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http://s3.amazonaws.com/jo.www.larabar.com.2011/uploads/product/large_images/20/thumb.jpgMR: How do you prepare for a workout?
JK: If I’m lucky enough to get to the gym with 5 minutes to spare, I’ll roll out on the foam roller or use a lacrosse ball to attack some tight muscles or knots. I’ll grab something to eat that’s convenient and simple like a LÄRABAR. I really like the Blueberry Muffin and Coconut Cream Pie flavors. There’s just a few ingredients like fruit, nuts, spices, and sometimes chocolate which are perfect for helping me power through an intense workout. I also finally invested in lifting shoes which made big improvements to my performance.

MR: You don’t often see “vegan” paired with “crossfit”. What do you eat?
JK:
It’s true, crossfit is more associated with paleo. But I have no trouble performing competitively on a vegan diet. There are so many top athletes who are vegan – from the NFL football field and the MMA ring to the Olympics and the strongman competitions. The myths about veganism being insufficient are impossible to maintain in the face of results. I love cooking and eating, it’s almost as cathartic as working out! I try to make time to cook at least one meal a day. One of my favorite go-to meals is simply grabbing a bunch of vegetables and making a big stew. I always start with onions, garlic and mushrooms and then build it out from there. Last night it was Leek, Bok choy, rainbow chard, butter beans, wakame, squash and miso. Tonight it might be shallot, trumpet mushroom, veggie sausage, broccoli, spinach and black eyed peas. I can make a lot and warm it up for the next day, and in the colder months nothing is quite as good as hot stew.

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MR: What is the creative process for Brave GentleMan?
JK: Brave GentleMan is very much about combining classic style with future textiles. We take a narrative approach to our collection, and the story typically is about what a man of the future would realistically be wearing – and that has so much to do with how it was made, who made it, and of what was it made? The most exciting innovations in fashion rarely happen in the cut of the pants or jacket. They are happening in the makeup of the textiles. From synthetic biology labs to low-impact recycling to bio-based synthetics and plant-based organics, we are evolving toward an era of the most high-performance and customizable materials we’ve ever seen. One of the most fantastic parts of these advancements is that animals no longer need to be raised, confined and killed simply for their hairs and skins.

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MR: What projects do you have up your sleeve for the coming year?
JK: I’m finishing up my first book, Fashion & Animals, and I’ve got some great new shoe styles for SS15 and AW15/16. We’ll also be scaling up production of accessories like belts and offering suiting in some gorgeous new textiles. I have some fantastic collaborations coming soon that I can’t yet talk about! And Maybe there’s a flagship store in NYC in our near future?

MR: What advice do you have for people who want to get healthy?
JK: You can do far more than which you believe you are capable. You can get stronger. You can work harder. You can do something you love. People who pursue life in this way never go into it with things perfectly planned. It will never feel comfortable to take risks or to push yourself beyond what you thought were your limits. But once you do, there is nothing else like it.

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Healthy Hero: Dominick Thompson

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photos by JP Bevins

Dominick Thompson is a real New Yorker. He works a demanding day job, started his own business on the side, and still finds the time to stay healthy and vegan while training hard for triathlons. LÄRABAR, famous for their simple, real ingredients that you can actually recognize, asked The Discerning Brute to spend a day with Dominick and get to know the insights, secrets and strengths of this healthy hero. We chased him around on foot, on wheels, under weights and in the kitchen and even caught him sharing his favorite Cashew Cookie bar with a squirrel friend.

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Joshua Katcher: People who live in NYC are notorious for having the busiest schedules. What does your typical day look like and how do you make time to work out and eat well?
Dominick Thompson: I work 10-12 hours a day Monday-Friday. That doesn’t include any special projects I’m managing that may involve late night hours or weekends as well. However, I do create time for training and even competing in races as they are important to me and my health. There is simply no excuses to not be healthy and train efficiently in this day and age. My typical work day includes me rolling out of bed to train from 5am to 7am. That gives me plenty time to shower and head into the office. I spend my lunch hours training as well whether its at the gym or going outside for a run through the busy streets of Manhattan. By the time I leave my office in the evenings, I have one thing on my mind, and that is to go hard in my third training session for the day which usually lasts 2 hours after work.

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JK: You’re in amazing shape. What’s your motivation for staying fit?
DT: The physical and mental feeling one experiences when they are at their peak level of fitness is something that is just as addicting as life itself, and life itself is truly my motivation.

JK: What’s your workout regimen like, and are you currently training for any competitions?
DT: I’m currently training to compete in my next Ironman, with hopes of qualifying for the Ironman Championship held in Hawaii. I currently log over 120 hours of training per month.

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JK: Who are some of your heroes? How have you inspired others to get healthy?
DT: With respect to physical health and athletic achievements, I didn’t have any real life heroes growing up. The only hero in my life in terms of athletic achievements was the person I used to stare at in the mirror everyday before and after football practice. To understand this, you would have to understand my past. To be brief, all I saw growing up were individuals just trying to survive the day to day struggles of life and poverty. The last thing on their minds was being healthy. Not having any male role models drove me to teach myself how to play football and to get involved in other team sports on my own. It also taught me how to think very critically and grow up fast. Without going too deep, let’s just say that I used the negative things and experiences I saw growing up as inspiration to do my best and to be the opposite of what I was used to, both on and off the field. Now in my adult life, I have inspired others by showing them they can thrive and still perform in athletics at a high level all on a vegan diet.

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Cashew Cookie

JK: Do you make time for fun?
DT: I do make time for fun, but I also consider competing in endurance sports such as triathlons and marathons as fun. I love them!

JK: Let’s talk food. What’s a great pre-workout meal, post workout meal, and snacks for in-between?
DT: I like things simple and healthy. I juice and consume a variety of berries for pre-workout fuel. If I’m out on a long bike ride, I re-hydrate with juiced watermelon and eat bars like LÄRABAR throughout my ride. The Cashew Cookie bar is one of my favorites. The best thing about LÄRABAR is that it’s only a few, simple ingredients like cashews and dates. Post meal is always bananas and juiced fruits.

JK: What are some common myths you dispel simply by being you?
DT: That you can’t be strong on a vegan diet. I’m actually stronger now that I am on a vegan diet than I was when I consumed animal products. In fact, my strength training has only improved.

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JK: What music gets you pumped? What ideas inspire you?
DT: It varies. Depending on the day or the mood. Sometimes I rock out to Tiesto and other times I crank up some Young Jeezy. I love all types of music. Kings of Leon is one of my favorite bands. As for what inspires me, people that work 9-5 jobs while competing as weekend warriors in marathons and other athletics inspire me! It is the very reason I formed IRON BRUKAL, which represents The Working Athlete.

JK: What’s something every guy should know?
DT: That compassion defines one’s intelligence with respect to all life itself.

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JK: What is something every guy can do right now to start getting healthier?
DT: Honestly, cutting out all meat from your diet is the first step in my opinion. Your children and grandchildren will thank you in the future when you are still living and able to play catch with them.

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