Spiritual Gourmet Chef Robert Hurley is one of my dearest friends. One of the things I love most about him is his ability to see and create beauty in the smallest details.
Robert specializes in creating soulful environments for us to enjoy artistic meals.
In today's world, when there's so much controversy and neurosis about food, Robert provides a soothing, comforting relationship with it. As an artist designer, he creates Beauty, and as a Spiritual Gourmet Chef, he also creates
Our interview with Robert was awesome! Check out the highlights:
Robert, tell us a little bit about your love for beauty and design, and how that led you to become a Gourmet Chef who also works with flower design and decoration - and tell us especially about "The Hurley Touch" :-)
I would have to say that my love for beauty and design really started out when I was very young.
I could feel it, the essence of it really talked to me. And then I started taking painting classes when I was in fifth grade at a one-room school house that was built in 1800’s in the town that I grew up in outside of Philadelphia, and I had a wonderful teacher who was very inspiring to all the young kids. She was so respectful. When you would be painting, she would come over and say, "Oh, may I touch your painting?" So we would have to give her permission to touch our painting and she was really a wonderful person, who guided me to see that
When you go into a sacred space at church, a synagogue, a temple, you feel it's imbued by the design and by the colors and the forms that are there. So I think we need to bring that into our homes, to enhance the experience that we have of our lives.
There's so many people that have nothing, and they're glad to have a drink of water and we have so much and we waste so much.
As a child, we weren't allowed to waste anything. So that's really been ingrained.
That's mindful living, I would say, right? Can you tell us a little bit about what you created it this morning?
Well, today I decided we would have a little tea or coffee and I would make my mother's recipe of Irish Soda Bread. We had it quite often, but certainly on Saint Patrick's Day. It's baking soda and baking powder. There's no eggs in it and it has raisins and caraway seeds. That's the traditional way.
Is that "The Hurley Touch"? How would you describe it?
The Hurley Touch comes from my husband because he says whenever I do anything, I can't just leave one thing alone. Every little detail has to be paid attention to. So everything has its little place and everything is balanced with each other.
It's way beyond a culinary experience, right?
Yes. Because I think it's everything. You eat with your eyes first. So if you make everything look delicious and inviting, then people want to partake in it. And if everything has a place, everything is made to look nice, it becomes a gracious way of living.
Tell us a little bit about your processes. Do you follow recipes every time you make something?
I don't really follow recipes. I read them for research and stimulation, but even when I first started cooking, I never followed a recipe. I always say, "I think I want this in it. I don't want that and it, or I think this would go better with it. Or I like this better". So the only recipe I follow is for baking. Baking, I say it's more chemistry and magic, and cooking is really alchemy and magic. Because in baking you have to measure everything. You have to be very precise of all ingredients. It really involves a lot more chemistry than cooking does. Cooking is a little bit more forgiving.
I personally consider you a Spiritual Chef because I think you infuse your cooking with your spiritual practice.
Well, I do because I say prayers when I'm making something, or when I finish it, especially if I'm doing it for clients as well, because I don't often have time to do that there. The whole time I'm working with cooking, it's all about being completely in the moment and enjoying the textures, the smells, everything that happens with the vegetables that you're cooking, or the other materials that you're using.
If it's fish or meat...
And now in our modern world, we just kind of take it for granted that this food is there for us to eat. And we don't praise that animal for giving his life up for us.
So I think if we do things more in a respectful way like that,
And so if you're cooking and you're angry, you people are going to get upset stomachs. So you need to be balanced and focused and thinking, what are you doing? I'm providing food and nourishment for someone. So I want it to be good. I want it to elevate them.
Have you always had that spiritual consciousness, that mindfulness, since you were a child? Because beauty and art came very early in your age.
I think they're one and the same. When you see that beauty, you know that it's from something bigger than you. We didn't create this. So where is all of this coming from? We are one with it and our consciousness is one with it. Especially when you go out and you see a sky that's full of stars that sometimes she feels like you could just reach out and touch them. Unfortunately living in cities, we don't see that because of the light pollution. But if you go into the desert and you have the opportunity to see that, you really feel like you could just reach up and touch them.
You get a chance to be connected to nature when you travel to The Bahamas for catering with your company. Do you feel like it recharges you to be out of the urban scenario and into the raw nature?
I do. And even though I don't have time to really enjoy it a lot because I'm just working and working and trying to get a project done, but I'm on the beach, the air is blowing,
So even though I can't, it's coming into my consciousness, it's in my eye and it's being absorbed through my skin.
My other question to you is a practical question because sometimes people are in such a rush. Sometimes they don't go to the grocery store, they just order online. And when they go to the grocery store, they don't even touch the vegetables or the fruits. It's not a spiritual activity, but it can be. As a professional in the field, how do you pick your ingredients?
I think you have to research it. I love to find out where things grow and where they come from, where the spices come from, how do people originally use them and think of their culture that's growing that food for us. We're not growing the coffee here, but where is the coffee coming from? And now I think with a lot more people getting into artisanal products and and people learning about where food really comes from.
And they're more willing to even pay a higher price for it because they're seeing the difference in the quality and the way that food is grown does make a difference. I think especially with television and all these cooking shows, people are getting more aware of what their food is and what flavors are, and what the nuances, what nutrition and eating healthy is. I think we've been on that path for a while and I think it's really getting through to more people.
My other question, which is something I've always wished to ask someone in the field is the interference of plastic. Plastic wrap and how plastic contaminates the tastes. So getting things from glass... what do you think about plastic and food and that relationship?
I think it's more dangerous than what we think. I think they're finding that out. So I really try to find things that are more in glass. Here is hard to get a lot of local grown things because we live in a really strange climate. We have more regular vegetables and stuff like that in the winter. Tomatoes and strawberries grow in the winter, where everybody else in the country is enjoying them in the Summer. We don't have peach trees. We don't have apple trees, so we'd have to rely on getting it from other places.
Like when I'm doing a party or just doing dinner for myself, I might have an idea of doing something, but then I get to the market and what I wanted, it doesn't look good. So I'd rather not serve that to somebody. And I really wish more restaurants would do that. We do that instead of having tomatoes on the menu, and then you get this "object" on your plate - it has no flavor. It's mealy.
When you go to Europe, everyone says, there's hardly anybody that's fat there. They eat full fat. They don't eat low fat. They don't mean any kind of altered food,they eat real food.
What about the cheese?
I prefer only using whole-milk cheese because I think they have more flavor and they have bacteria that's good for you, that enhances our internal system. When you pasteurize things, you're killing a lot of those enzymes that are beneficial to help you. And you need to eat the rind of those cheeses, which most Americans don't.
My last question to you is "The Awesome Experience"! Because it's not just dinner, it's an experience that we have with your dinners and the partnership with EatWith. So I've been to two of them and I love it. Can you tell us about that?
Well, I, I think it's a whole experience for me. When you go somewhere... I like people to come in.
And that's why it's so nice in more homes today, people are having open spaces so that the person who's cooking is not isolated in the kitchen. They can be with their guests, and it becomes a more flowing experience, because we're all partaking, even though you're not in the kitchen doing it, your energy has now entered the room and we're commingling all of that together.
You know that whenever I know I'm going to be with you, and there's going to be your food, I'll always say: "This is a good day!" So thank you for your beautiful Irish Soda Bread!
And we have ginger orange marmalade or fig jam and butter, and everybody's having tea, and we have awesome people here filming us, so everybody's going to partake!
Thank you, Robert. You bring the Beauty of Life to the world.
And thank YOU, awesome people reading this post! We love to have you here for these awesome experiences!
To check out Robert's amazing work, here are the links where you can find him:
Love always, and see you soon,