Chris Shaw Chats with Chef Chris Faraci
As the world starts the process of opening up, a lot of changes are surfacing in almost every aspect of our lives. In the culinary world it’s no different, take out has become the order of the day, so the idea of “Chef-Prepped” meals you can cook at home was bound to follow. Enter Chef Chris Faraci, you may remember Chef from Carmen’s or The Ruck. Here’s a chat with him on his latest endeavor…
Chris: So why a Chef?
Chef Faraci: So, I started cooking for multiple reasons. First, it seemed way less boring than sitting in an office, which I could never have gotten the hang of. Growing up in a tiny town in New York, there wasn’t what one would have called a food scene. We (Our small town) had three fast-food restaurants, two diners, and one of those eventually burned down! I learned how to cook and developed an appreciation for food at a very early age, mostly from PBS. It was amazing to see passion from people about cooking. I enrolled at SCCC (Schenectady County Community College) in the Culinary program. It opened up my mind about food and specifically cooking. It allowed me to get ahead in life and help others.
Chris: Where did you get the idea for this project?
Chef Faraci: I’d like to say the initial inspiration for this endeavor was all positive and amazing… but that would be a lie. Back in February of 2019, I was at a doctor’s check-up, although like many others my age, I was not one for doctors or being healthy. I had come back from that appointment to find out I was 400 pounds, diabetic, and living with high blood pressure. Not a huge surprise!! I lived what is commonly referred to as the “Chef Life”, at a dangerous level. I also had a family medical history that read like a Stephen King novel. So I decided that I was going to start taking my health seriously. Starting with my eating habits!
I became very aware of the way I was not doing right by myself. I have been working very hard ever since to lose, and at this point, I’m down 154 lbs. This is where the story starts to get positive. In February of 2020, I joined Orange Theory Fitness in Albany and found not just a gym but one of the most supportive communities for change out there. Even through the lockdown and COVID, they were there and still are. I have been a chef for about 20 years. I decided that I could take my new life and this support that I have received, and turn it into a way to help others by making healthy, real chef-inspired meals. Thus was born Foods By Faraci!
Chris: How does it work from the consumer’s point of view?
Chef Faraci: For my customers, I tried to make it as easy as possible, especially right now as my business is still in its infancy. We are still learning together because as much as I’m familiar with restaurant service, this is a new style of service for me. I process orders on my website FoodsbyFaraci.com and take orders until Thursday night. Then I make a date and time to pick up orders at the Orange Theory Fitness in Albany, (currently on Saturday nights at 5:00 pm.) I am working to be in a brick-and-mortar location by the end of the year because currently, I am working out of rented kitchen space.
Chris: Can you give us an example of one of your dishes, and explain why that combination of ingredients intrigued you? Eg: childhood memories, a family favorite, something you ate in Morocco wearing a flimsy burnoose, while Sandra Bullock fed you dates…
Chef Faraci: So I am going to be completely honest, there are definitely dishes I miss. The one I miss the most is Chicken Parmesan; breaded chicken, deep-fried and served with a giant side of pasta is not necessarily great for a guy who has a predilection to high blood pressure and high blood sugar that could cause him to reunite with long passed family members. One of the first dishes I worked out was a chicken parmesan meal that was under 500 calories, 48.5 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, and 42 grams of carbs. As far as being inspired by a dish that is a life staple I think that one really nailed that one right on the head because everyone loves chicken parmesan. It goes right back to childhood because you’re out with the family. What is better as a child than crispy chicken covered with sauce and melty cheese?!?!
Chris: How do you see the Capital District restaurant/food scene progressing post pandemic?
Chef Faraci: I do see the food scene coming back strong. Unfortunately, like a lot of places, it is going to take some time. The upside is that we have some powerful chefs and restaurants in the Capital Region, and I am proud to be a part of that group! Strong men and women, who have weathered the storm this far. I really hope in my heart of hearts, they come back on top because of their hard work and commitment… they deserve it.
Chris: Advice for young bucks coming up?
Chef Faraci: I have a ton of advice for young up and comers, things that were ingrained in me from the start. I say this next statement with a lot of love, but “shut up and listen!” Also “if you’re not early, you’re late!”
That being said, your opinion is definitely valid. You are a human being with feelings and values. Also, this industry will love you and take care of you if you let it but like any relationship, it is a two-way street. Learn when it is necessary to take time for you and yours. We all have to take the time to learn that. At the age of 43, I am still learning when not to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I say this in no uncertain terms, take care of yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. This industry can grind you like no other. It can take your physical and mental health. Always take time for family, because they are not always going to be there and you need them.
Contact Chef Chris Faraci at foodsbyfaraci.com