Oct. 19, 2011— -- His YouTube videos open with thunderous drums and a crackly voice that sounds like it is from the bowels of hell, as the camera pans over an eerie candle-lit kitchen, complete with black appliances and a pentagram stove top.
It's time for the Mask of Demons... time for the Armor of Hell... it's time to cook some food?
Brian Manowitz is a 30-year-old food lover and freelance sound engineer, but to his one million plus YouTube viewers, he is the KISS-esqe-make-up wearing, armor-clad Vegan Black Metal Chef with an Internet cooking show.
"This is where the heat of Satan engulfs your food, and it becomes from pieces of vegetable into fine vegan meals," Manowitz said, referring to his kitchen.
His pentagram stove top is the "main alter where we sacrifice all the main vegetables," he said, and also the center piece for his show.
"You can't summon the essence of Satan into your food without the pentagrams," Manowitz added.
Underneath the make-up and costume, Manowitz said the Vegan Black Metal Chef persona is simply his attempt to explain what it means to be a vegan -- someone who doesn't eat or use anything that comes from animals, including everything from meat, cheese, eggs or leather products. In fact, Manowitz's armor tight-body-sleeve is made of vinyl material.
"I don't believe in the exploitation of animals," he said.
So what about the "Black Metal" part of his title? Well, that's just his hobby. Manowitz is in two bands and has been listening to black metal music for years, slightly different than death metal.
"One analogy that I use is death metal kind of sounds like Cookie Monster and black metal sounds like Donald Duck," he said.
On his cooking show, the chef prepares recipes -- Udon Noodle stir fry, Pad Thai and sushi -- while screeching out ingredients and chopping while wearing finger daggers. While Manowitz has, forgive me, a devilish sense of humor, he takes his vegan commitment and his cooking very seriously.
"Just bring consciousness to your actions," he said. "And if everyone did that, myself included of course, just always bring consciousness to your actions, the world would be a much better place."
Along with Satan's fire, let's not forget.
Raised as a Jewish kid in Florida, Manowitz said he doesn't really worship Satan, unless you're talking about wheat gluten spelled "seitan," which he has cooked with. While some of his instructions include telling viewers to "CHOP SOME ONIONS WITH AN AX!!!," the contents of the chef's refrigerator looked fresh and beautiful.
"Absolutely, that's why the food is so damn good," he said. "Maybe the real danger is in what other people are eating."
It's loud, it's unusual, but the food tastes good. Indeed, some (vegan) food for thought.
Recipe for Tempura Asparagus Sushi
Disclaimer from the Vegan Black Metal Chef: I am kinda against formal recipes as I believe they intimidate people and take away their natural creativity when cooking. Everything needed to learn to make the food is in the video.
As taken from VeganBlackMetalChef.com:
White Vinegar (or Rice wine vinegar)
Self rising flour
Garlic powder (optional)
Panko Japanese breadcrumbs
Tempura asparagus (see instructions below)
Nori (dried seaweed sheets)
I usually just add some bell pepper, avocado or thin pieces of green onion
Flied Garlic (optional... but really good)
Tofutti brand "Better Than Cream Cheese" (Garlic and Herb Flavor)
Seaweed salad -- You can buy it in little packs in the frozen or refrigerated section of your Asian store. Here is another thing where you might have to try out a few different brands.
Prepare the rice: Pour two cups of water into a saucepan for every one cup of rice (one cup of rice will make about five or six large sushi rolls). Add a dash of salt, sugar and vinegar (about a tablespoon) to the water. Add your rice and bring to a boil. Follow package instructions for cooking. Then set aside.
Tempura the asparagus: Heat up oil in either a deep fryer or a sauce pan on the stove. Start with about two cups of self-rising flour in a spiked bowl. Add a dash of salt and garlic powder. Add enough water to make it into a sort of smooth paste, but not too watery. Stir it together. Add about 1/4 cup white wine and stir. Make the batter not too thick and not too thin.
I like to use three pieces of asparagus per roll. Cut the asparagus in half and put them into the batter. Mix well until the asparagus are coated. This will allow your Japanese bread crumbs to stick. If you batter is thick enough, the bread crumbs will stick fine. If it gets too thin, you can add more flour.
Pour about two cups of bread crumbs onto a plate. Using a fork, pull the asparagus one-by-one out of the batter and onto the bread crumbs, then cover them. Add the covered asparagus into the hot oil. Stir gently. Prepare more asparagus while a batch is frying.
Cook each batch of asparagus for a few minutes until golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on paper towel.
Chop up some other vegetables (bell pepper, onion, avocado) into thin strips and set aside.
Roll the sushi: Start with a sheet of Nori on a bambooroller (can be found at any Asian store), or you can use a sheet of aluminum foil. Dampen your hands with water and spread water on the Nori. Add your cooked rice on top and spread into a sheet. You can wait until the rice cools. Add six pieces of asparagus -- three on the left and three on the right of the sheet -- flied garlic, and Tofutti brand "Better than Cream Cheese" and some of the other chopped vegetables. Carefully, tightly roll the sheet away from you. Dampen your hands again and rub the outside of the roll once more to better seal it.