Meet Allen Campbell: former private chef for Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen, the largely plant-based chef is also the author of two cookbooks and is launching a meal delivery service next. Learn more about Chef Allen below.
How did you get into the food world?
I started working in a small grocer at 13. I did it for money back then ($4.75 an hour!) and then went to a vocational high school – took culinary arts and worked in restaurants and hotels. From there I went to college for culinary management and continued to work in high-end restaurants and hotels – the rest is history.
You’re known as the “chef of peak performance” – how did your culinary journey lead to that kind of cooking? And what does that mean to you?
My career up until around 2012 was in high-end restaurants cooking traditional American cuisine – fine dining, little to no focus on nutrition. Around that time, I started to look at my own lifestyle and eating habits and decided that I wanted more for myself. I didn’t want to end up like most do in my industry: unhealthy, stressed, burnt out. I wanted to improve my quality of life and was determined to do so.
I started going to the gym regularly, surrounded myself with health-conscious people and slowly started to look at my eating habits. I say slowly because food was (still is) a huge part of my identity. I became willing to listen to the statistics around dietary related disease and the role that food has on our health. I began taking baby steps towards cleaning up my diet. I acknowledged the obvious fact that dairy wasn’t working for me and eliminated that. I then began cutting out refined sugar, processed foods and improperly handled grains and legumes.
I started educating myself on what foods would help me obtain optimum health. I studied, took courses and immersed myself in my newfound way of life. Welp, wouldn’t you know, top, elite athletes are looking to do the same – optimize their health through food, exercise and other holistic practices.
Carrying the tagline “chef of peak performance” means two things for me:
- Nutrition is front and foremost when creating recipes, meal plans and consulting with athletes. Marrying nutrient-dense food with deliciousness is the hard part but, trust me, I got this.
- We are all in a physical, mental, emotional game called life. Let’s get real; we all need to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. Fueling your body, mind and spirit with nourishing foods in order to maximize your health outcomes is for EVERYONE that wants to be the best version of themselves.
How do you see plant-based diets influencing performance in athletes?
My definition of a plant-based diet is focused on whole foods, mostly plants as a foundation, including properly sourced, sustainable animal protein. The foods we choose to eat on a regular basis will inevitably impact our physical performance. Plants carry the antioxidants, phyto and micronutrients as well as fiber needed to keep the body recovering quickly and maximizing overall health.
Tell us about the two books you’ve co-written, TB12 Nutrition Manual and coauthor of The Game of Eating Smart – who are they for? What could we expect?
One of my favorite topics!
I wrote The TB12 Nutrition Manual for Tom Brady and his brand, TB12. I gave the reader a full breakdown of how to eat seasonally with a clear description for each season. I also felt the need to showcase a line of familiar dessert, snack and popular breakfast options applying the same philosophy as the savory foods – whole, plant-based foods without any refined sugars, dairy or gluten. This chef-driven, somewhat-exclusive publication was intended for the clients of TB12 at that time. It is currently sold out.
The Game of Eating Smart is a publication that profiles 21 of MLB’s top players and a collection of over 100 recipes. I single-handedly designed the recipes to reflect the likes and favorites of the players – each player having four to five specific recipes in their profile. I wrote the recipes with the baseball fan/home cook in mind. Expect to see kid-friendly options and very simple methods. These recipes are also gluten and dairy-free.
What’s your go-to recipe? Where do you get your recipe inspiration from? What kinds of cuisines or flavors inspire you most?
I am not one to follow recipes, not even my own. If I do, it’s usually a raw dessert or snack like these chewy chocolate granola bars that I’ve been making a lot for clients. They are a great pre-workout snack and insanely delicious.
Those around me that are excited about food inspire me the most. I love to see someone, a chef or home cook, that has discovered a new ingredient and has put his or her own creative spin on using it in their own unique recipes. I love seeing someone’s natural talent come through in their recipes.
I appreciate flavors of all cuisines but tend to lean towards Asian flavor profiles – noodles, citrus, spice, fresh vegetables and herbs.
What’s next for you?
I will be launching a custom meal delivery service here in Boston over the next few months. From there I plan to go to NYC and Miami with a similar concept. Also, expect to see smaller, intimate, full-service concepts that reflect all of my favorite foods.
What’s your favorite Lavva flavor?
I enjoyed the strawberry flavor and love to enhance my smoothie experience with Lavva!
Anything else you’d want to share?
Focusing on underutilized plants, as Lavva has done, is one of the ways we can contribute to the improvement of human health and the planet’s natural resources. Thank you for that!