If you haven’t heard of celebrity chef Tyler Florence, maybe it’s time you climb out from the rock you’re living under and turn on The Food Network or Cooking Channel. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard of The Great Food Truck Race, Iron Chef America, or Worst Cooks In America; all of which are shows that Tyler has either appeared on and hosted. You could head to a bookstore and pick up one of his 11 books to add your collection, including Start Fresh: Your Child’s Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating and Inside The Test Kitchen. Or, if you’re in Northern California, you could check out one of his incredible restaurants in the San Francisco area.
Tyler’s had quite the career since he burst onto the culinary scene in the late ’90s. Decades later, he’s still on the forefront of the culinary cusp, using his knowledge, passion, and sheer talent in the kitchen to develop unique and exciting ways to re-teach America that eating a healthy and fresh diet — no matter what your dietary restrictions may be — can be simple, tasty, and most importantly, easy for everyone.
Among his other current culinary conquests, Tyler works with Innit, a cooking and lifestyle app that’s guaranteed to change healthy eating as we know it. Their goal is simple: “Our mission is to empower consumers to eat and live better by giving food a voice. We aim to bridge the divide between the incredible pace of eating innovations and existing consumer behaviors. We want to help people enjoy the way they eat every day.” With the Innit app, you can “get personalized meal recommendations and help as you go with step-by-step video guidance,” which basically means you get a private cooking lesson from the comfort of your own kitchen — tailored to your every need.
We sat down with Tyler to ask him more about the revolutionary cooking app, how everyday home cooks can benefit from it, and how everyone can make 2019 the healthiest year yet for themselves and their families.
LittleThings: Tell me a little bit about Innit — what exactly is it, and how did you get involved with it?
Tyler: “Innit helps simplify the entire cooking process for home chefs. It kind of puts you in the driver’s seat, so the best part is that you don’t need to be a professional chef like me to create delicious, wholesome dishes! Whether you’re navigating challenging dietary restrictions in the kitchen or just trying to find new recipe inspiration, it’s a no-brainer way to conquer the kitchen once dinner time comes around.
“You start by creating a personalized food profile, allowing you to customize recipes to fit any dietary restrictions and preferences. You can sync up your compatible smart appliances to the app, send cooking instructions straight to your kitchen, discover new recipes, watch instructional step-by-step videos, and tons more. It’s really all about taking out the guesswork in the kitchen. And, any way to simplify the preparation process when it comes to entertaining for friends and family — or simply trying to eat better — is a win, in my book!
“I love using Innit in my home for its connectivity to my smart oven and all of the great content. As the lead food innovator at Innit, I get to create new and interesting recipes, videos, and instructional content. Every recipe I create is made not only to taste great, but they’re meals that I love to cook myself, and made to help home cooks feel more inspired and empowered in the kitchen.”
LT: What are some of the categories that Innit specializes in? For instance, I’m gluten-free; are there a ton of options for people with food allergies and/or specific diet guidelines?
Tyler: “Yes, there are plenty of options for people with food allergies or restrictions! In order to make sure there is a dish for everyone, we have created vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free versions of classic recipes, so the possibilities are virtually endless. This past holiday season, for example, I wanted to mix things up, so I made vegan mashed potatoes made with roasted onion purée and vegan cauliflower stuffing, using Innit to guide me through the process. It was so delicious and, honestly, you couldn’t even tell the difference.”
LT: According to the Innit website, you are a “firm believer that the recipe is dead.” Honestly, same. I hardly ever follow recipes and prefer to cook on gut instinct, how I’m feeling, and what I actually want. Can you talk about why you think the recipe is dead?
Tyler: “Given the rise of specific diets and more awareness of food allergies, a one-size-fits-all approach to cooking is no longer realistic. Home cooks are looking for meals that best fit their dietary needs (and, for that matter, their daily preferences), rather than following traditional, limiting recipes. And in today’s always-connected culture, consumers crave real and engaging content to help them bring their dish to life. Instructional videos are a brilliant way to do just that, so you can see how your dish should be coming along at every step.”
LT: How do Innit recipes differ from regular recipes?
Tyler: “Innit’s interactive recipes are totally customizable. Users can select the foods they want more of in their diet or are trying to avoid, in order to eat in a way that reflects their lifestyle and dietary needs. They can change sauces or remove parts of a recipe they wouldn’t make. It’s a total game-changer!”
LT: What are some easy ways to stay on track with healthy eating in 2019 for both adults and children?
Tyler: “A misconception is that eating healthier means sacrificing taste and that’s simply not true. I love a good prime rib or cheesy pasta dish as much as the next guy, but substituting out certain ingredients for healthier alternatives is an easy way to still enjoy elements of your favorite dishes but with a healthy spin. You don’t have to nix your favorite dishes from your weekly dinner rotation. I sometimes like to think of it as not removing, but adding. Add more vegetables; add more interesting sauces that will allow you to forget about the heavier carbs or gluten in favor of bolder flavors. Just set your dietary preferences using Innit and let the app do all the work to find you a healthy alternative.”
LT: How did you get involved in the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank? What advice can you give to everyday people, like me, who want to get involved in food banks and other local organizations?
Tyler: “My gut instincts have always been to feed people, whether that’s in my restaurants or people in need. I feel fortunate to have the ability to help in that way, and am always looking for ways to give back in my local community. The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank relies heavily on the help of volunteers. Donating just a few hours of time to sort, pack, or stack food makes a huge difference for the community, and I believe that making a lasting impact starts in your own backyard. If you’re compelled to do something, just pick one thing and do it.”
LT: I love 'The Great Food Truck Race' — I think it’s cool to get a more in-depth look at how food trucks operate, which is obviously different than a standard restaurant kitchen. I know the final season premiered in 2018; what’s been your favorite part of filming that show?
Tyler: “I get to visit parts of the country that I never would otherwise. You can’t imagine some of the random places I’ve been. But I love it… getting in my car to drive from one location to the next, stopping at side-of-the-road diners and other hole-in-the-wall restaurants, checking out the local scenery. It’s such an amazing way to see America. And, of course, I’ve gotten to experience some serious talent coming out of these trucks. These days, it’s really hard to get a brick-and-mortar place off the ground, so food trucks are a totally legit way to get great food out into the world. It’s incredible to see how hard these chefs work.”
LT: What’s your go-to dish for holidays and family gatherings?
Tyler: “A holiday classic in the Florence household is prime rib. I make mine with creamy horseradish, and the recipe I follow only requires seven ingredients, which makes it simple to shop for and prepare.”
LT: Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring chefs (like myself and our readers) who want to take their culinary skills in their home kitchen to the next level?
Tyler: “Start simple! You don’t need to take on a seven-course meal to be a great cook. Start with the classic recipes like Pan-Seared Salmon, BBQ Chicken Breast, or Spaghetti Pomodoro — or whatever speaks to you from a nostalgia point of view. Once you’ve perfected the basics, you’ll have several go-to dishes in your repertoire that are sure to be crowd-pleasers every time. You can build from there, getting creative and finding new ways to put a twist on your classic dish.”
To learn even more about Innit, head over to their website and download their app. If you’d like to donate to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank or find ways to help, head over to their site.