Featuring: Chef Chad Sarno


Chad and Rip.jpg

This week, it's Part 2 of our discussion with vegan Chef, Chad Sarno. We talk go-to dishes, sauces and easy meals that will wow any guest or friend.  

Cooking plant-based can be intimidating for some, but Chef Chad Sarno keeps it simple, practical and delicious for all taste buds. From meal prep planning and key plant-strong ingredients to practical kitchen utensils and tools, Chad dishes on his favorites that will help you kick up your own kitchen skills. 

And this week, we've done the homework for you! These last two episodes were packed with so many tips and kitchen tricks that we've compiled them all in an exclusive FREE downloadable document. Click below to receive behind-the-scenes details on each weekly podcast episode, as well as the free download all of the valuable information that was packed into Episodes 13 and 14.

Chad Sarno - Kick Up Your Kitchen Skills - Tips from Ep. 13 and 14

Interested in taking your plant-based kitchen to the next level? Enroll in Rouxbe, the world's leading online culinary school with over 530,000 students across the globe. 

Interested in taking your plant-based kitchen to the next level? Enroll in Rouxbe, the world's leading online culinary school with over 530,000 students across the globe. 

Learn More and Enroll in Rouxbe 


Support for this week's episode comes from Nutramilk - the easiest and fastest way to make your own plant milk at home!  Enjoy a $50 discount and free shipping with code PLANTSTRONG.

Seeking a solution for making the plant-strong lifestyle convenient and inspiring?  The Plant-Strong Meal Planner offers 1000s of recipes customized to your preferences, an integrated shopping list and grocery delivery!  Our Engine 2 Coaches are on hand to offer support and answer any questions - all for $1.90 a week when you sign up for a year.  Visit our Plant-Strong Meal Planner today!

Chef Chad Sarno

Chef Chad Sarno

Chad Sarno is the co-founder of Wicked Healthy, a thriving, mission-driven online community that focuses on culinary education, consulting, innovation, training, and product development for manufacturers, retailers, and food service outlets.

Chad is also the co-founder and VP of Culinary for the plant-based seafood company, Good Catch Foods which offers a line of ‘seafood without sacrifice’, now available in stores.

Chad formally held the position of VP of Plant-Based Education at Rouxbe Online Culinary School, the world’s largest online culinary school, and launched the first accredited plant-based culinary courses online.

Internationally, Chad has launched a boutique plant-based restaurant brand throughout Europe in Istanbul, London, and Munich, and has consulted on restaurant launches globally. Chad’s mission of health inspired plant-based eating and education has reached all corners of the globe.

Chad joined the global team at Whole Foods Market as the company’s Global RnD Chef and culinary media spokesperson for the Whole Foods healthy eating program.

Chad’s celebrated recipes have also allowed him to publish, together with his brother Derek, The Wicked Healthy Cookbook (released May 2018), and the Whole Foods Cookbook (released October 2018). He has served as contributing author to more than 10 health-related books, including New York Times bestselling cookbook The Conscious Cook, and to co-author the bestseller Crazy Sexy Kitchen with Kris Carr. Over the years, he has been a guest on dozens of morning shows and food-focused programs on national and international television and radio. Chad has been featured and quoted in numerous media outlets ranging from CNN, NBC, Bloomberg, The New York Times, and The Guardian, and has been a contributing author to publications such as VegNews, Men’s Health, Self, Shape, and Prevention magazines.

Chad calls the US home, and, when he is not spreading his mission of cooking and eating more plants, can be found in his garden with his two amazing kids, his wife, and a variety of woodland creatures.

Wicked Healthy Food Website

Good Catch Foods Website

Transcript of Episode 14: Chad Sarno, Part 2

Rip Esselstyn: Support for this episode of Plant-Strong is brought to you by Nutra Milk, the fastest, easiest, and most economical way to make your own plant-based milk on the planet. You simply throw in your walnuts, almonds, cashews, oats, or whatever milk you're in the mood for, and voila! In addition to making plant-based milks, the Nutra Milk can make nut butters, sauces, dips, veggie stocks, spreads, smoothies, you name it. Visit TheNutraMilk.com, and type in the code PLANTSTRONG to receive a $50 discount, and free shipping on your purchase.

Hey Plant-Strong friends, we're picking up right where we left off. And in this second part of the two-part episode with Chad Sarno, we're digging even deeper into practical tips and recipe development that is going to take your cooking to the next level. Grab your pen and paper, and let's go.

Chad Sarno: There's a world of food an opportunity out there that people are not exploring because of their own fears, right? So I think going plant-based in general makes people more of a foodie, you know?

Rip Esselstyn: Right. Right.

Chad Sarno: Because you're forced to try new things, you know? Which is great. I don't know what the question was.

Rip Esselstyn: Well, we were going back to appliances-

Chad Sarno: Yep.

Rip Esselstyn: -That are kind of ... You know, you really need. You mentioned the wok, the cast iron, the high speed blender-

Chad Sarno: A good knife.

Rip Esselstyn: -Cutting board. And then when you were talking about the knife.

Chad Sarno: Yeah, a good knife. So the key is always knife safety. You can certainly chop up a bunch of vegetables quickly, but are you doing it correctly? Are you going to cut yourself? All that. Most people have cuts because of dull knifes, so make sure you're ... Just a couple quick tips here. Knife tip is always pointing towards the board, whether you're cutting cabbage, a head of kale, or dicing a carrot. A lot of people hold it up as they're cutting, like this. Whereas, the tip of the knife, if you slip, you hit the board with the knife before you hit your fingers, right?

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: Next thing is always keep the tip of your fingertips down. So if you're cutting, your hand is not flat on the board as you're cooking-

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: -Because that's basically your fingers, or vegetables at that point, right?

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: So tip of your fingertips down, and your thumb is behind your fingertips. A lot of people will do this, and then first thing ... I've cut my thumb so many times when I was going through this process but tip of the knife pointing down and then really you're using your fingertips down. That's it. That's it. 

Rip Esselstyn: And then are you using the knife against-

Chad Sarno: And then once you get comfortable with doing that, then you're using your knuckles as a guide.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: And you can do that slowly and go slowly and then it'll just slowly start speeding up.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: It takes a little bit of time and the key ... We were talking about fears, too, is one thing that stresses people out typically is the prep.

Rip Esselstyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Chad Sarno: The prep is ... Once you have everything in place, cooking is so easy. The basic advice that I give anybody that's starting to cook is make sure that you set yourself up with mise en place before every dish.

Rip Esselstyn: Wait, what?

Chad Sarno: It's called mise en place. It's prep.

Rip Esselstyn: Oh, okay.

Chad Sarno: Mise en place literally translates in a kitchen to setting in place.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: It's a French term. Setting in place. And so it's basically ... When I talk about mise en place ... We call it mise in the kitchen. So, it's basically when you're mising your recipe. You basically will take ... Let's just say ... Let's go through a typical home of people making dinner.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: This is pretty typical. Let's say you're making stir fry and rice with a sauce. That's all you're making. That's stressful for a lot of people to even think of that. It's stressful because going through the scenario ... You decide you want to make a stir fry and rice so you start chopping ... You pull out all these vegetables out of the fridge that you know you want to chop and you should be eating because it's good for you.

You start chopping the vegetables not efficiently because you're not sure how to use knives. You start chopping the vegetables. You turn on the pan. 

Your chopping the vegetables. You're chopping the vegetables. Your pan starts smoking. You're like, "Oh, shit. I've got to get the onions in." So then you start chopping the onions. You're chopping them. Then you put the onions in. You realize that you need to put on the rice so then you got to go the cupboard while the onions are cooking. They're starting to smoke. You go to the cupboard, you get the grains, you start measuring things out to put in a pan to make the rice.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: And then your vegetables are still all over the board while the onions are starting to burn.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: And then you're like, "Oh, man. When I add these vegetables I'm going to need sauce." So, then you're rummaging through the cabinets to get the sauce. And so, then your vegetables are finally in, your onions are burnt, you're stirring it, your rice is starting to boil, you don't know how to turn it down quickly-

Rip Esselstyn: It's getting out of hand.

Chad Sarno: It's getting out of hand. It's getting stressful, right? And so, that's a typical mindset of cooking is you got to ... You have to do a little pre-planning in your mind.

I never, ever turn on a pan unless my prep is done. Literally, it's setting in place. If I'm making a stir fry, I will turn on the rice first. You think of timing. What's going to take the longest to cook?

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: I'll turn on the rice before I do anything. That's going to take 40 minutes, 35 minutes. That's how much time it's going to be for everything else to happen. That way, once I finish stir fry, rice is done. Whereas it's not second thought.

Rice is on. I'll prep all my broccoli.  I'll prep all my carrots and I'll prep all my onions. I'll prep all my garlic. I'll prep all my ginger or cubed tofu. Then I'll turn on a pan once everything's on my board ready to go. If there's a sauce that goes with that, I'll mix in a little jar. I have these little half quart mason jars. I mix all my sauce in there.

Rip Esselstyn: Can I stop you for a sec?

Chad Sarno: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rip Esselstyn: You mention sauces. Like Joe Inga, the Bronx firefighter, he has created this sauce that he puts on all his pasta. It's like a combination of boiled potatoes, onions, carrots and then he throws it in the Vitamix and he puts in some garlic, herbs, spices, nutritional yeast and he puts it on pasta and his two year-old and his five year-old just can't get enough of it.

Chad Sarno: Oh, that sounds great.

Rip Esselstyn: But I'd love for you to come back to what you're talking about, but sauces are an integral part of making this work.

Chad Sarno: Oh, yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: Right?

Chad Sarno: Completely.

Rip Esselstyn: Sauces.

Chad Sarno: Sauces, marinades and dresses.

Rip Esselstyn: All that. 

Chad Sarno: Yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: Do you have three go-to sauces that you recommend to people?

Chad Sarno: Yeah. For an Asian one ... If I'm making a stir fry, going back to that ... For an Asian one, I use soy sauce. I'll use a low sodium soy sauce. Low sodium soy sauce. I'll use a sweetener.

Rip Esselstyn: Like syrup?

Chad Sarno: Paste, maple syrup.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: I'll put that in. Then I'll use a vinegar. You're working with the salt, the sweet and the acid.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Fats are not always needed.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: That's the thing is that I'll add cashews to a stir fry just to get that fat in there if I need it.

Rip Esselstyn: When you say you add cashews, you mean the whole cashews right in the dish?

Chad Sarno: Oh yeah. The whole cashew.

Rip Esselstyn: Right?

Chad Sarno: Yeah. I mean whole cashews, whole almonds. I put nuts in my stir fry. I love it. My kids love it. But in the jar-

Rip Esselstyn: And what kind of vinegar are you putting in there?

Chad Sarno: You can use rice vinegar.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Rice vinegar. Also you can use ... If you're using seasoned vinegar just make sure that there's ... There's some seasoned vinegars that don't have sugar in them, so you can choose them. Mirin is really good but Mirin tends to have sugar in them.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: But a rice vinegar works great. 

And so, you're basically balancing out that salt, that acid and that sweet. I put it in a jar. You can put some minced garlic, some minced ginger in there. Shake it up, that's ready to go with stir fry.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: That's ready to go on rice or whatever.

Rip Esselstyn: K, so that's stir ...

Chad Sarno: That's one of my favorites.

The other one is ... For richness I like a peanut sauce.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: I'll use ... Then you need a blender for this or you can use a jar and you just shake it like crazy. But you do peanut butter or almond butter or cashew butter.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: And then same thing. Working with fat, salt, acid and sweet so then you build from there. Peanut butter, almond butter.

Rip Esselstyn: What's my salt going to be?

Chad Sarno: Low sodium tamari.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: Not much.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: You don't need much at all.

Rip Esselstyn: What's my sweetener going to be?

Chad Sarno: The sweetener is going to be either maple syrup or dates.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: In that recipe in particular, dates would work really well.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: Just a couple pitted dates.

Rip Esselstyn: What's my acid going to be?

Chad Sarno: Acid, lime juice or vinegar. Or a combination. And then you add a little bit of water so it'll blend. And then from there, once you have the fat, the salt, the acid and the sweet, that's your sauce. And then everything on top of that is aromatics and there's different layers.

A lot of people ... If you try a recipe that you make a sauce and it just doesn't cut it and it doesn't work and there's something missing, it might be missing one of those components. That's the foundation of building these recipes.

And then from there, then you can add the aromatics. You can add the ginger, you can add the chili, you can add the herbs, you can add the spices, and those are going to give you another flavor on top of that foundation.

Rip Esselstyn: That's two. You gave me the stir fry-

Chad Sarno: Stir fry one-

Rip Esselstyn: You gave me kind of a Thai, peanut. Can you give me a third?

Chad Sarno: Peanut sauce. Yeah. Peanut sauce.

Third one I would say would be ... See, I like richness. You don't do a ton of-

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, but that's okay.

Chad Sarno: Not so seeds but like a cream sauce. I love a cream sauce with pasta. You can do-

Rip Esselstyn: What do you do?

Chad Sarno: I'll do cauliflower a lot of times. You said Joe uses potatoes, right?

Rip Esselstyn: Potatoes, right.

Chad Sarno: I'll do cauliflower. I'll just put it in a little pot and I'll do cauliflower. I'll do a little bit of cashews in it. I'll do a whole onion. You chop it all up, you put it in a pot with a little bit of vegetable stock and then you can add a touch of miso in there.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: And you can add some salt if you want. You cook that, you boil it until everything's tender, it's reduced to a liquid. And then I add that to a blender and you blend that up and it's an amazing cream sauce.

Rip Esselstyn: And what do you-

Chad Sarno: It's the same process you use in this kitchen.

Rip Esselstyn: What would put that on?

Chad Sarno: Pasta. All sorts of pastas.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: I'll make a cauliflower risotto that's just cauliflower. That's my sauce, that's my creaminess, and then I'll dice up a bunch of cauliflower and then I'll mince up a bunch of cauliflower. It's crazy. The only ingredient is cauliflower in there and it'll fool anybody.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Do you have a go-to salad dressing that you would recommend for people.

Chad Sarno: Yes. I like to use ... The combination of orange juice and a white miso is amazing.

Rip Esselstyn: Just those two ingredients?

Chad Sarno: Those two is really good because you're getting the sweetener. The only thing that's missing is a fat.

Rip Esselstyn: Can you tell me ratios on that if somebody wants to make this after they listen to this?

Chad Sarno: Yeah. You can do ... I would say it's probably three tablespoons of a white miso, a half cup of orange juice-

Rip Esselstyn: Orange juice.

Chad Sarno: And then you can build from there. And that's nice. A nice super sweet dressing. 

Another one is if I'm doing a balsamic dressing I'll do balsamic and I'll do ... You can add a little bit of sweetener in there, being a little bit of maple.

Rip Esselstyn: Yep.

Chad Sarno: And you can also add a little bit of salt, being a little bit of low sodium tamari. And those three combination is really nice.

Rip Esselstyn: One of the things Joe wanted me to ask you was he loves pesto. What is a good no oil pesto? How would you make that?

Chad Sarno: No oil pesto, I use pine nuts. I'll use a good amount of pine nuts or any kind of nut works really well.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: I don't tend to use ... You can use water to flash it just so it will blend a little bit, but plenty of basil. Plenty of basil. I like to use spinach in my basil. A little bit just to really brighten it up in terms of color.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Maybe half and half even. Some toasted pine nuts. If you're going to use any kind of nuts or seeds, toast them.

Rip Esselstyn: Toast them.

Chad Sarno: It's going to give it a little bit more flavor.  And then, rather than using even garlic, just straight raw garlic because pesto tends to be a little sharp with garlic. You can boil a bunch of garlic. If you boiled a bunch of garlic in a little bit of water ... You boiled it, you had that on hand, you can basically take that garlic in with a back of a knife. You can squish it on a cutting board.

Rip Esselstyn: How long do I boil it for?

Chad Sarno: 'Til it's soft. Maybe four minutes, five minutes.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: Simmer it just in a little bit of water. And that's it.

Rip Esselstyn: And then throw that in with my ...

Chad Sarno: And you can keep that in the fridge so whenever you're making dressings or sauces-

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: -Or salads or if you're making a grain salad, a bean salad, just slicing up some cooked garlic is really, really nice. I'll take a little bit of garlic and I'll smush it or I'll just put the whole blanched garlic in the pesto. If you need a little bit of liquid, you could use a splash of water or a splash of vegetable stock if you're not reaching for oil.

Rip Esselstyn: Joe also ... He likes eggplant cutlets. What would you recommend as an egg substitute for battering if you're making cutlets?

Chad Sarno: Battering? If you're looking at ... Yeah, I love an eggplant Parmesan. A couple of ways to do that. Typically with that you would dredge them. You would do an egg wash then you would do the batter; the breading. 

For an egg wash, you could basically use any starch. Any tapioca starch or corn starch or anything like that. You can whisk that up with a little bit of water.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: That's totally fine. You can also use that cream sauce that I said. If he's doing that cream sauce of potato-

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: -He can just dilute that. Just dilute it a little bit. 

The key is before you add an egg wash you want to also be able to ... You add flour first. There's three stages when it comes to dredging. You basically do the-

Rip Esselstyn: Was that dredging you said?

Chad Sarno: Yeah. It's just the process of breading.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: You basically would take sliced eggplant planks, let's say.

Rip Esselstyn: And then would I want to do that thing like I do with mushrooms to get the water out? Would that help?

Chad Sarno: You could, but with eggplant Parmesan I don't usually do that.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: I'll take sliced eggplant planks or whatever you call it.

Rip Esselstyn: I want you to know something.

Chad Sarno: Hmm?

Rip Esselstyn: I can't stand eggplant.

Chad Sarno: You can't? I love it.

Rip Esselstyn: Do you think you could make me like eggplant?

Chad Sarno: Oh, I can make you like eggplant. I'm growing a ton of eggplants in my garden right now. I have these little Thai eggplants. Really small ones.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Which are amazing in curries and stir fries. 

But eggplant, dredge it in a little bit of flour, coat it and then you do the wash. And the wash could be ... The wash ... People typically use eggs but you could use any kind of starch, water combination or you could do that diluted sauce, that diluted cauliflower sauce or diluted potato sauce.

Rip Esselstyn: Yep.

Chad Sarno: Just so it basically coats it a little bit. And then you do the breading. You could do a combination of panko or bread crumbs and different herbs and nutritional yeast and spices. And that's what you bread and then you bake it. It's great. And then you pour sauce all over it, a homemade cream sauce, and you have the best eggplant Parmesan. I'm sure Joe would enjoy that.

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Chad, what are three go-to basic meals that you would suggest that everybody learn to master in order to make this lifestyle work for them?

Chad Sarno: I think it's going to differ with each person and what traditional flavors that you like, but one of my favorite ... I love grains.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: I love whole grains. I get this wild rice from ... And I'm going to totally plug this company ... It's called Moosehead Lake. They're up in Minnesota. I get my wild rice from them. And I'll cook a batch of wild rice or I'll cook a batch of quinoa or batch or brown rice and then I'll eat that throughout the week.

Rather than exact dishes, because I think this is where a lot of people trip up-

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: With making it sustainable is master a couple techniques. Once you master a couple techniques, then your dishes can vary every day.

Rip Esselstyn: What are those techniques?

Chad Sarno: Those techniques could be exactly how to cook grains. Know how do you cook a good grain. All of them are going to differ slightly, but there's charts out there with the ...

Rip Esselstyn: Two to one.

Chad Sarno: Two to one roughly for almost everything.

Rip Esselstyn: Water to the grain.

Chad Sarno: Exactly.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Cook a good grain. And not just cooking a grain with no seasoning. Put a bay leaf in there. Put some sliced garlic in there. Put some sliced ginger. Put a star anise in there. Just up the flavor of that grain.

Rip Esselstyn: How do you cook your grains? Do you do them in a rice cooker or Insta Pot or-

Chad Sarno: I just do it in a pot in the stove.

Rip Esselstyn: In a pot on the stove.

Chad Sarno: Old school like that. 

Rip Esselstyn: Wow.

Chad Sarno: Yep. In a pot over the stove. You bring it to a boil then you basically put it down to a simmer.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: Until you don't see any water anymore and then for most of my grains I then shut off the heat and I don't touch it for a couple minutes.

Rip Esselstyn: Let me ask you a couple things about grains. Do you have a go to? Is it the wild rice?

Chad Sarno: Wild rice.

Rip Esselstyn: Is it the quinoa? Is it pearl barley?

Chad Sarno: Wild rice.

Rip Esselstyn: Wild rice.

Chad Sarno: Yeah. A parched hand-harvested wild rice is one of my favorites.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: You can get those at store you can order it from-

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: -Online.

Rip Esselstyn: What about steel-cut oats, og oats or old-fashioned oats?

Chad Sarno: I like old-fashioned oats and just soaking them overnight. I do the whole overnight oat thing, which is kind of nice. Or I do ... I've been doing a lot of chia also. Chia puddings.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: Because my son loves it. I have a two and a half year-old.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay. That's one technique is mastering the grains.

Chad Sarno: Master grains. The other one is on how to build a dressing. We talked about it.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Of taking those four components - fat, salt, acid and sweet. 

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Once you master that and you have a couple under your belt with knowing how that works and how those components work, then it can apply to so many categories.

If you're looking at a dressing ... We talked about ... Just going real quick back to it. We were talking with that peanut dressing; about peanut sauce. If you look at each one of those categories, let's say fat category, you can swap out ... If you don't like peanuts, you don't like almonds, use cashews, use tahini. You can swap that out.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: If you don't like lime, you don't have access to lemon or citrus, you could use orange or you could use any kind of vinegar.

If you don't like-

Rip Esselstyn: Do you ever use grapefruit or is that just too ...

Chad Sarno: I use grapefruit. Some grapefruit has a little bit of bitterness in it.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: But the thing with orange and grapefruit, those could cover two categories. Those could cover acid and sweet. You got the same thing with olives. Olives are fat and salt. That's why that white miso dressing works.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Because white miso is salt and sweet. Orange juice is sweet and acidic, so that why it works with just those two ingredients.

You can swap out ingredients within each category to make the recipe your own. When I have some go-tos, my ... Just in term of recipes. I'll make rice salad at least a couple times a week. Like a rice, avocado salad. I love it. Just right there.

Rip Esselstyn: What are you have in there? Just wild rice?

Chad Sarno: Wild rice. And you can do it warm or whatever.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: But I'll make a batch of grain just to have it. Then I'll put it in the fridge and then I'll bust it out and I'll dice up some peppers. I'll dice up a little bit of onions. I'll put some avocado in there. Squeeze of lemon. Some toasted seeds. Stir up and it's friggin delicious, just that.

Rip Esselstyn: Right. Once you have the grain, you can just build-

Chad Sarno: That's it.

Rip Esselstyn: Upon your preferences.

Chad Sarno: Yeah. Exactly.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay, so we got the grain. We got the-

Chad Sarno: The dressings.

Rip Esselstyn: The dressing.

Chad Sarno: Yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: What else?

Chad Sarno: And for a salad, I've been making it for 20-25 ... Probably 25 years. Kale avocado salad is my go-to recipe that I always make for my family.

Rip Esselstyn: And do you drive the avocado into the kale?

Chad Sarno: I do, yep. Yep. 

Again, you're using that fat, acid, salt. I'm doing sliced kale, I'm doing avocado, I'm doing a little bit of acid lemon and I'm using a little bit of diced bell pepper or cherry tomatoes as that sweet and a little bit of salt to it. Then you're massaging it. You're basically making a guacamole with kale in it.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: And then from there you can add grains to it. You can add beans to it. You can add toasted seeds to it. You can add other vegetables to it. And it's one of those ... My little two year-old started eating it recently and I'm like, "Yes!" So excited. And it hits all those taste profiles, so it's hard not to like.

Anyways, I love ... Those are my three go-to.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.  I like that.

Chad Sarno: I'll always stick with a dressing or a marinate. I'll always work with grain salads. Again, that can incorporate beans or not. And then a kale avocado salad.

Rip Esselstyn: What's your favorite go-to potato?

Chad Sarno: I like a red russet. I like a red russet because they roast. And what I'll do is-

Rip Esselstyn: Whoa. I never would have guessed that.

Chad Sarno: I like sweet potatoes, too, but the small red russets, those really small ones.

Rip Esselstyn: What about Yukon golds?

Chad Sarno: Yukon golds are good if I'm using-

Rip Esselstyn: I find they're really buttery and-

Chad Sarno: They are but they're drier than the others. So, if I'm making a gnocchi you want to look for a dry potato so I use Yukon golds only for gnocchi most of the time.

But with a russet, like those really small little popper potatoes, you know?

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Yeah.

Chad Sarno: What I'll do is the best way to roast a potato, and I do roasted potatoes a lot, is if you get those small potatoes I always boil them first. You don't boil them in boiling water. You add the potatoes to the pot then turn it on. That way it cooks all the way through. I'll boil them just so you can stick a fork in them. Not until they're fully done but just parched, basically. Poached. I'll take it out. I'll boil it for maybe five minutes, strain them, cool them and then I'll have that in the fridge so if I want to do roasted potatoes, you put them on a super high heat, you slice them, put them on parchment paper, it crisps on the outside. You can put them on a really high heat and it's already cooked already.

Rip Esselstyn: Do you have a favorite potato for doing potato wedges or french fries on parchment paper?

Chad Sarno: I like ... Yeah, sweet potatoes or russet.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay.

Chad Sarno: I mean Japanese sweet potatoes are kind of a treat. I like to mix those into different russets.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: The only thing is I'll keep them on separate sides of the tray because they cook differently and then I'll mix them for the kids.

Rip Esselstyn: I'm going to ask you two questions. First, you're having a carnivore over for dinner. You want to win them over to the good side. Any particular meal that you're going to make for them?

Chad Sarno: My homemade manicotti. Or pasta. A pasta dish.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Yeah. Tell me about the manicotti.

Chad Sarno: Manicotti.

Rip Esselstyn: Manicotti.

Chad Sarno: Uses some fat there, but I would do it for using any kind of pasta typically-

Rip Esselstyn: Well, we're working with a carnivore here, so-

Chad Sarno: Yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: - want you to pull out all the stops.

Chad Sarno: All right. If I'm making a fresh pasta .... I love making fresh pasta. It's a labor of love. Making fresh pasta, a lot of people typically reach for eggs. Basically, eggs are used for functionality of pasta so I mimic that with plants. The functionality of an egg is it's using the fat and the protein giving it enough in a ratio to make that pasta pliable. Instead, I'll do silicon tofu and a little bit of vegan butter or a little bit of oil.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: And you make that egg just like you ... That's the egg. And then you mix that and the pasta and you knead it. There's all sorts of recipes out there. In our Wicked Healthy book, we go into that recipe.

Rip Esselstyn: You make your own pasta.

Chad Sarno: I make my own pasta. Or dumplings. Dumplings is a good one, too. You could put anything in a dumpling. Basically, you can buy dumpling skins from your local Asian market or specialty store. You can make your own if you wish. But one of my favorites right now, it's been all summer still, is a corn dumpling from our Wicked Healthy Cookbook which is basically combination of fresh, blanched corn or you can use frozen and then corn powder. And I use corn powder from using freeze-dried corn.  You can get the crunchy, freeze-dried corn, you blend that up into a powder, you got this ... You mix that with the corn puree and it's like this incredible burst of corn flavor, these dumplings. Corn dumplings in a coconut broth, that's also a good go-to.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay. Second question.

Chad Sarno: Or mushrooms.

Rip Esselstyn: Okay. You and your buddy Woody Harrelson. 

Chad Sarno: Yep.

Rip Esselstyn: You're going to Station 72 in the Bronx. You're going to hang with Joe and his buddies there. 

Chad Sarno: Yep.

Rip Esselstyn: What's Woody's favorite meal that you'd cook for him and the fire fighters?

Chad Sarno: I mean, he loved this pastas. He loved the stuffed mushrooms, I remember. I haven't cooked for him in many years. We're just-

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: We remain friends but ... I would say that something with a lot of flavor, flavor forward. Even the Thai route of using a lot of aromatics and spice and things like that. That's a good way to ... Someone whose used to the comfort that they think that meat brings them and bold flavors. Approaching a menu with a ton of bold flavors and Thai and Vietnamese does this so well with all the different herbs and the chilies and the combination of the sweetness and the richness and the acid. All of those hit all the buttons with flavor interest and so it wakes up anybody's palette. Something that was definitely a bold flavor, I would start from there.

Rip Esselstyn: You've been doing this 30-odd years. Maybe you can't tell me, maybe you can, but whose the most famous person that you've ever cooked for? Because I heard-

Chad Sarno: Famous, depending on-

Rip Esselstyn: I heard from a little birdie somebody that you cooked for at their house not too long ago.

Chad Sarno: Oh, yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: And that, to me, is like-

Chad Sarno: That was pretty amazing. That was pretty amazing. Yeah, Arnold. Arnold Schwarzenegger was pretty cool. I was pretty starstruck by him. I've worked with a lot of celebrities in the past with cooking and a lot of them on film sets with Woody.

Rip Esselstyn: What did you make for Arnold?

Chad Sarno: I was working with his chef to help them adopt more plant-based techniques within his menu.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: I ended up coming in. It was kind of like a kitchen nightmare situation but it turned out really well. I flew into LA on a Sunday, my training was supposed to be Monday. Fly in at like two or three in the afternoon. I talk to the chef as soon as I landed and I was supposed to be doing a training with him and then dinner for Arnold or something on Monday; something like that. I didn't know the details. But I flew in and now the chef has become a really close friend of mine, but-

Rip Esselstyn: He didn't have a big attitude? He was-

Chad Sarno: He's so awesome. This guy Alexander-

Rip Esselstyn: Do you find most good chefs don't have an attitude?

Chad Sarno: Most good chefs don't have an attitude.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: The chefs that are just hiding behind ego are the ones that have the attitude that their shit don't stink-

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: And they can't eat plants because it's not cool. That's whatever. As far as I'm concerned, those chefs are lazy and they're chasing after the train right now at this point.

Rip Esselstyn: All right, the train has left the station.

Chad Sarno: Completely. They're chasing it, man. But dinner was ... I call him when I land and I'm figuring out how I was going to shop that day and come over the next day and he's like, "You know what? Arnold's not going to be here on Monday so we can still do a training but can you do dinner tonight? He's having 10 of his friends over." This is at two. I'm landing, getting my bags and I'm like, "Sure. Sure." He's like, "Well, because it's a great time." And it was Golden Globes that night.

Rip Esselstyn: Oh, wow.

Chad Sarno: So I'm like ... He's like, "He's having a couple of his closest friends over." So, I can't miss this opportunity.

Rip Esselstyn: Sylvester Stallone.

Chad Sarno: It was like a total blitz to go shopping and what he wanted to learn was ... What the chef wanted to learn was all the alternatives on the market.  Show all my favorite products on the market and then work with as simple as how to mimic dairy and meat. That was main focus. I used some products on the market but I did that mushroom technique with a number of things and then also showed him fresh pasta and then also all the non-dairy category but also made some homemade milk and cream sauce and things like that.

We ended up serving and we ended up pulling it off. It was 10 people and they had-

Rip Esselstyn: Did-

Chad Sarno: -I think it was 12 things on the menu that we ended up pulling out.

Rip Esselstyn: Did you come out before each thing and explain what it was and all that?

Chad Sarno: Yeah. Yeah. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. And that was one of those times where meeting Arnold was ... I mean, he's like a real life superhero.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Him and Sylvester Stallone and all the ... Back in the day when we grew up, they were superheroes, man. In our eyes. I've met a lot of celebrities but I was just kind of starstruck when I saw him.

The other one is when I was on set with Woody years ago was Lauren Bacall. Lauren Bacall was married to Humphrey Bogart back in the day.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Lauren Bacall is legend and she was such a difficult woman, I'm sure, to work with but she loved my Shepherd's pie. I make Shepherd's pie for Woody and he would bring it to her and it was just amazing.

Rip Esselstyn: Shepherd's pie sounds so-

Chad Sarno: So good.

Rip Esselstyn: -Absolutely amazing. 

Chad Sarno: It sounds great right now.

Rip Esselstyn: It does. I would love a Shepherd's pie.

You cook all the time, you go home. Do you have the wherewithal to cook your meals at home or is your wife doing that?

Chad Sarno: I love cooking. I just love cooking. Cooking's not ... Cooking is my passion. It's just like-

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: -Someone whose into fitness or someone ... I mean, they just love it all the time. It's not a chore.

Rip Esselstyn: Does your wife like to cook?

Chad Sarno: No. No. That's why I think she married me. No, but she ... I love to cook. Even if she wanted to cook I'd say no, let me do this.

Rip Esselstyn: Wow.

Chad Sarno: I love it. I love being able to feed my family. I think it's an opportunity and it's a true blessing to be able to understand the food that I put in my children's bodies.

Rip Esselstyn: Yep. 

Chad Sarno: And know every step of it.

Rip Esselstyn: What an amazing skill to have, too. And it seems like a skill that the vast majority of Americans don't have.

Chad Sarno: Don't have.

Rip Esselstyn: Don't understand. Don't have a passion for.

Chad Sarno: It's about confidence, though. As soon as you're confident in the kitchen then you're sitting in the driver's seat of your own health. That's what I feel. As soon as you take control of your health in the kitchen it reflects everything else in your life.

Rip Esselstyn: I like that. What about ... How many kids do you have?

Chad Sarno: Two.

Rip Esselstyn: Two kids? Are they plant-based.

Chad Sarno: They are, yes. I have a little vegan boy and my 13 year-old daughter is plant-based at home. Well, she's plant-based all the time but she eats some dairy when she's out and about with her friends.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: At events or whatever. But she only eats vegan at home. It's all I've ever cooked. It's all we have in the house so nobody has a choice. If you're going to come over and you're going to eat, nothing else is getting cooked in my pans. That's for sure.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, like you I've got kids. I've got three kids and they've been Plant-Strong since birth.

Chad Sarno: Yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: And they love it. They absolutely love it.

Chad Sarno: That's amazing.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. 

Chad Sarno: They're certainly not deficient. They're vibrant, beautiful children.  You see these and they're balls of energy. Almost too much energy at times.

Rip Esselstyn: I hear you there. You and I have seen this movement explode over the last decade. I mean, to a level that is just ... It makes my head spin a little bit.

Chad Sarno: Completely.

Rip Esselstyn: In a great way.

Chad Sarno: Completely. 

Rip Esselstyn: From your vantage point, what are some of the most exciting things going on in your world right now and where do you see ... It's a big question, but where do you see the plant-based movement going over the next five, 10 years?

Chad Sarno: Oh my gosh. Someone asked me that, too, the other day.

I would say the most exciting thing that I have going on right now is we're creating ... And I say that we, my brother and I, and it's ... We are instruments of all the people that have influenced along the way and all the knowledge. I don't want to take credit for what we're doing but we're in the center of this incredible movement from a culinary standpoint and from a retailer standpoint of what manufacturers are out there creating.

Wicked Kitchen, we just rounded the corner and sold our 10th million meal the other day. We've been on market for a year and a half.

Rip Esselstyn: That's like insanity.

Chad Sarno: A year and a half and we've sold 10 million plant-based meals with Wicked Kitchen, so that basically-

Rip Esselstyn: And this is only over in the UK.

Chad Sarno: Only over in the UK. We have an exclusive line with Tesco called Wicked Kitchen. Derrick os over in the UK leading that. He's the head of plant-based innovation for Tesco but Tesco also licensed our brand Wicked Kitchen, which is a subsidiary of Wicked Healthy. And it's basically ready-to-eat meals, wraps, sandwiches, pizzas, rice bowls, noodle bowls, salads; you name it. Little pots of food. Protein pots. Things like that. We have some desserts that are coming out. We have 40 products on market in Tesco. We launched at 20 and within a year they doubled the line, which is incredible, and so we have some very exciting line extensions coming out in the next three months as well. And we're in over 1000 stores, 40 products and we hit 10 million mark a couple of weeks ago, which our 10 million ... That's 10 million meals that do not contain animal products. That gives me the chills.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: Just being a part of something like that. That's just the UK side of things with Wicked Healthy. Good Catch Foods, which we created here, which is a solution to really helping our oceans and making people recognize that there are alternative proteins out there; that you don't have to reach for fish. You can still have a-

Rip Esselstyn: This is sustainable seafood, right?

Chad Sarno: It's the most sustainable seafood on the plant because it's made out of beans. 

Rip Esselstyn: Beans, not mushrooms.

Chad Sarno: Just beans. That's all of Good Catch.

Rip Esselstyn: So, we're not using any of the lobster mushrooms or anything like that?

Chad Sarno: No. It is a slightly processed product, of course.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: But it's ... The environmental piece and the environmental impact that it has outweighs that, personally.

Rip Esselstyn: I had some samples at the Expo West Trade Show when I saw you.

Chad Sarno: Yep.

Rip Esselstyn: I mean, the flavor profiles that you're creating-

Chad Sarno: The texture.

Rip Esselstyn: It's just ... I'd say that it's the equivalent in seafood to what Beyond Meat has done with their burgers.

Chad Sarno: It's an exciting time. We have three products on market right now. We should be in about 3000 doors by the end of this year; within a couple months. We launched with Whole Foods. We have three shelf-stable tuna-free products which are ... It's a six legume blend. And then we use seaweeds and algae and DHA oil. Nutritionally, it holds up almost identical to an Albacore tuna. And it's shelf-stable. There's no other plant proteins that you can grab off the shelf and travel with, throw in your gym bag or travel.

I'm going camping tomorrow for the week and I have a bunch of Good Catch because I can just put it on a salad, I can put it in a pasta bowl, whatever. It's amazing.

Rip Esselstyn: When you say it's shelf-stable, how is packaged? Is it in-

Chad Sarno: It's in a tear-open bag.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: It lives right next to the tuna in the tuna aisle. That flexitarian shopper has that option to diversify their protein. Rather than reaching for fish, they get a legume-based one. We're launching that. We're in a series B right now. We have an amazing raise happening. We have amazing excitement behind it and the ... What excites me the most is the impact and disruption that this product is going to have. 

And I think that's what also drives us. We're activists at heart and disruption of a category is what we're all about. It's about time that ... We're in a position with ... We're in a point with plant-based innovation right now that what we create has the opportunity to disrupt a category that has been around harming America's, the world's health and the ocean's health and the land health for many, many, many years. And that's a goal is disrupting the factory fishing industry and we're certainly going to do it.

Rip Esselstyn: Wow.

Chad Sarno: We're set up to do that.

Rip Esselstyn: I don't have any doubt. 

Chad Sarno: No.

Rip Esselstyn: What about the movement? Where do you see us going in the next five, 10 years?

Chad Sarno: Man, just looking at the past 18 months, even. I mean, before it was like oh, five years. Things have grown. 10 years, things have grown. Looking at the exponential growth of the plant-based category within ... And I'm not talking the medical side and the health side and the fitness side. That's not even my world. And that's blowing up. And it's all on these parallel paths of ... I don't think people are going to stop eating meat. I think people are voting with their dollar. I mean, the consumer demand right now for plant-based options from everything from fast food to retailers to high-end restaurants, it's no longer going to be this fringe diet. And it is not now.

More and more restaurants are taking on but you can go to ... I'm shocked at a restaurant if it doesn't have a vegan option.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: I see there being options out there in every category, in every food service sector.

Rip Esselstyn: Right.

Chad Sarno: Whether you're on an airplane, whether you're at a stadium at a game. I see vegan options everywhere.

Rip Esselstyn: …draft house, movie theater.

Chad Sarno: Everywhere. Yeah, everywhere. It's hard to say where it's going to be in five years because it's grown so much beyond our capacity to understand in the past 18 months.

Rip Esselstyn: I just read yesterday in the UK KFC has introduced this imposter burger.

Chad Sarno: Yeah.

Rip Esselstyn: And they sold out in four days.

Chad Sarno: They sold out. Yeah. Tesco is getting rid of their meat and seafood counters because they're ... And they're going to sell packaged foods in those departments but they're seeing such a demand for plant-based that the whole shift of retailers are shifting around of what they're selling and the planogram of the store and ... I was just in HEB, which is a local grocery store, as you know. I was just in HEB and they had... And it said meat section above it and it was all vegan meats in the frozen department. All vegan meats in the conventional ... I was blown ... I was like what the heck? 

I mean, it's mind-boggling how quickly things are happening, especially ... Where there is plant-based options ... Not saying they're the healthiest options, these processed products, but they're turning the public onto what's possible and that you don't have to rely on animal suffering for out appetite. But when you see these fast food middle America that are on every corner of middle America serving .... The Burger Kings. Impossibles rolling out in 7000 Burger Kings across the United States in September. It's a plant-based burger.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Oh, yeah. 

Chad Sarno: When that tipping point happens ... We don't even know how to project what's going to happen in six months with this movement. It is so incredibly setting from a business standpoint, from an innovations standpoint, from a health standpoint, from a fitness standpoint, from all of it. It is such an exciting time that it's so hard to say when that tipping point happens what's going to... What the next step's going to be.

Rip Esselstyn: Just another thing to add to the whole momentum is we got The Game Changers coming out in a couple months.

Chad Sarno: That's going to hit hard. That's going to hit so hard. We're very excited about that.

Rip Esselstyn: Yeah.

Chad Sarno: It's going to be the most influential film ...

Rip Esselstyn: It will be the most watched documentary on the face of the planet.

Chad Sarno: Hands down.

Rip Esselstyn: To this point.

Chad Sarno: Without a doubt.

Rip Esselstyn: This has been fantastic.

Chad Sarno: Thank you, brother, for having me.

Rip Esselstyn: Your breadth of knowledge on this subject is nothing short of impressive and I want to thank you for everything you've shared with the audience. I think there's a lot of great value-

Chad Sarno: Thank you.

Rip Esselstyn: -That you imparted. And I know I'll be seeing you around because we run in the same circles, so ...

Chad Sarno: We do. We do.

Rip Esselstyn: Peace.

Chad Sarno: Get together more often.

Rip Esselstyn: Engine 2. Keep it Plant-Strong.

Chad Sarno: Thanks so much, brother.

Rip Esselstyn: Thank you.

I want to thank my co-creator of the podcast, Scott Battishill and 10 Percent Media. Laurie Kortowich, producer extraordinaire and the Engine 2 director of events. Bumble Media for this podcast production and Brandon Curtis for everything in between. Thanks to Whole Foods Market for believing in me and giving me a platform for the last 10 years.

Special thanks to Joe Inga, our Bronx firefighter, for your courage to not only change your life but also allowing us to share your story along the way. 

And lastly, I want to thank my father and mother, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. And Ann Crile Esselstyn as well as all the Plant-Strong pioneers who have been pushing this boulder uphill for more than three decades. As they say, we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

And remember, if you're digging the show please rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. And with that, let me say peace, Engine 2, keep it Plant-Strong.

Ami Mackey