Have you had the chance to meet Alain Braux? He’s an amazing, do it all kind of guy as an executive chef, author, speaker, advocate, nutrition therapist, and I’m lucky to say, my friend as well. He is also our gluten free calendar man for the month of October and simply adorable. Without further ado, meet Chef Alain Braux…
1. When did you first hear about gluten free and what were some of your initial thoughts about it?
About 5 years ago, as I was working for Peoples Pharmacy in Austin, one of the wellness lady working there, Elizabeth, made me aware of the gluten allergies and Celiac disease afflicting some people. She had spearheaded a whole gluten-free department and shelves of products. At the time, I had no clue about this whole other side of the food business.
Then my boss asked me to create gluten-free dishes and desserts for our clientele. Not one to refuse a challenge, I went to work and came up with a series of gluten-free to-go dishes and take out desserts. They all became very successful with our customers.
Seeing my success with my GF offerings, my boss, knowing I had already written a book about Mediterranean food and health suggested I write an educational and recipe book about gluten allergies and gluten-free recipes, which I did. It is called “Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food”. Check out his books available here.
2. Why did you feel GF might be able to help you? And how did it help you?
Well, I discovered I was allergic to gluten only while as I writing my gluten-free book. I had this recurring skin rash that would not go away and I wondered if it had anything to do with gluten. I got tested (Elisa) and it turned that one of the markers was elevated. So, although I am not highly allergic to gluten nor afflicted with Celiac disease, I am definitively sensitive to it.
Based on that test, I decided to go gluten-free. On one hand as a French pastry chef and baker (my original profession), it was not easy to stop eating French bread and croissants, but since I was working in a gluten-free environment, it turned out to not be as hard as I thought it would be.
On an interesting side note, when I go visit my family in France and eat French bread and pastries (it’s hard to say no to your mom), I do not suffer from skin rashes there. I must be because America wheat contains 7 times the amount of gluten protein than French wheat. By the way, I am not the only one that noticed the same results.
3. Do you have any family members who have followed you down this path, if not, how supportive are they?
Nope! I am the only one in my family, probably because I am the only one living in the U.S. My French family was shocked and thought I was crazy to write a book on this subject. They thought that it must be one of those American fad diet. They would ask me, “How can you live without bread and pastries?” Of course, they haven’t tasted my gluten-free recipes and award-winning GF desserts :-) At this time, my son has not shown any reaction to gluten that I know of.
4. You started off your career as a French chef, was the transition to GF difficult?
I still am a French chef, but I am now a French gluten-free and Paleo chef. Nothing much has changed in that regard. Nowadays, I focus more of my talents and creativity on GF products, that’s all.
5. What do you find is your biggest challenge as a GF chef?
As a trained chef, it was an interesting professional challenge but one that opened a lot of new vistas and doors. Technically, it wasn’t that difficult for me to turn most regular recipes into GF recipes. There are a lot of food recipes out there that are already GF. As for the others, all I had to do was to change or adapt them to new ingredients. Keep in mind that I have been a professional chef for more than 40 years. It was just another arrow added to my professional quiver.
6. Not only do you support GF & Paleo, but you support GMO labeling and are a very big advocate, what sparked this drive for awareness?
Yes, I have been Paleo for the past two years now. That same wellness lady I mentioned before, Elizabeth, told me about this whole new Paleo diet. Curious as I am, I looked into it. It made sense to me and I transitioned into it fairly easily. It simplifies my life and keeps me strong and healthy.
I also wrote a book on that subject too, “Paleo French Cuisine”.
On the GMO side, about two years ago, through one of my health newsletters, I found out about GMOs and what it did to our health. I was outraged! As a chef and a food geek, I could not accept the fact that some companies, out of pure greed, decided to use an untested technology and put it out there for us and our children to eat before serious health testing was done. I first became involved as an activist and supported the labeling initiative in California. We lost.
Following that, I went to Seattle last year to an anti-GMO conference and took a full day of training with the preeminent expert on the subject, Jeffrey Smith. I supported the Washington state GMO labeling initiative. As before, we lost by a narrow margin. I was undeterred. I believe in the power of education and the power of people making the right choice for their own health and that of their children. All we had to do is to make the general population more aware of the problem and educate them.
To that effect, I am putting the finishing touches on my newest book: GMO 101. As my previous books, it will be a practical manual on GMOs, how to avoid them and how to find GMO-free foods.
About a year ago, I convinced my boss at Peoples Pharmacy that it would be a good idea for our customers and for his business to start eliminating products containing genetically engineered ingredients in our food, groceries, supplements and cosmetics. I had to do a lot of research and was shocked to discover that there was multiple forms of GM crops ingredients lurking in our daily food purchases.
So I set out to require proper non-GMO certification from our suppliers. I encountered three kinds of reactions: some of the food companies where already ahead of the game and were already non-GMO verified. No problem. On the other hand, I received a lot more resistance from supplements and cosmetics companies. Some of them even called my boss and complained about my prodding them on the subject. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of supplements – even the big names – contain genetically engineered ingredients and, at this time, I only trust a few companies that have proven to me that their products are GMO-clean.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the end of the world. If you know where to look, there are plenty of GMO-clean products out there and I will give all of that information in my book very soon, GMO 101; if all goes well, it should be out by end of July or early August.
*For more information on GMO and other food issues, you can go to my Facebook page:
Chef Alain Braux and “Like” it
7. If you can give men out there not willing to get tested or change their lifestyle some advice, what would it be?
Wow! That’s a subject for a whole other book ;-) In my experience, most men think they are invulnerable, don’t like doctors and hate to be tested. Usually, their wives are the ones that have to drag them to a doctor and actually go with them to make sure they will go. I know, I am one of them ;-) Worrying about our health is not a manly thing to do. If I wasn’t a nutritionist, I would still resist the idea that food could make me sick.
Plus men tend to be stubborn about changing their diets. If they have Celiac, they can’t believe that a bread crumb will make them sick. In my personal experience as a nutrition therapist, they tend to not follow instructions or will cheat on the side, even when they are sick. So, based on that, these men need a loving wife that will learn to sneak gluten-free food on their plate and guide them gently while reminding them why they are doing it. Typically, I work with their wife and teach them how to handle their husbands diet. Of course, there is always the outside of home issue. Either that or they need a tough doctor that will put their feet to the fire.
8. Can you tell us some of the projects you are working on right now?
As a freelance nutrition therapist, I offer personal (face to face or distance), business and corporate consultations at http://www.alainbraux.com
I am also the co-host, with my partner Mark Moxom, of the Low Carb Paleo Show at: https://www.facebook.com/LowCarbPaleoShow . We have quite a lot of practical information and exciting guests.
Besides that, I am on the Advisory Board of the PaleoFx 2014: and hope to be one of the speakers for the PaleoFx 2014 in Denver in October.
I also work with Moms Across America, a voiceful group of Moms that fight against corporations poisoning their children.
Itchy Little World recently featured me on their blog, GMO’s & Your Health, What is the Connection?
And a series of two GMO articles coming on June 12th and 19th at the Healthy Organic Woman
9. How can people find you?
Thanks for asking. Well… I am everywhere :-)
Chef Alain Braux
Executive Chef-Nutrition Therapist
A Votre Sante – To Your Health Nutritional Services
Award-winning Health Author of:
“Paleo French Cuisine”
“Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day”
“Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food”
“How to Lower your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food”