Life Extension Magazine January 2013
Chef Sal's Amazing Journey to Raw Alkaline Cuisine
By Jon Finkel
When you stop and think about it, since consuming nutritious food is an important part of any longevity program, a chef who understands the value of a diet geared towards anti-aging could be just as valuable as a nutritionist. In the case of Chef Salomon Montezinos, what you have is a man who is passionate about not only food, but how it is prepared and how it can nourish the human body.
In Chef Sal's own words that begin his book, Discovering Raw Alkaline Cuisine, he states: "I am a chef. It is my passion…it is what I love. I am not a doctor, a dietician, a nutritionist, or a scientist. I am a human being that has experienced the results on my body of a variety of different foods over my lifetime."
And the experience Chef Sal is referring to isn't just in his own kitchen; he has put his culinary expertise to work in some of the most highly rated and extravagant restaurants in the world, including Switzerland's St. Moritz Palace Restaurant, Lausanne's Beau Rivage, Bern's Palace Hotel, and the Hotel Gutsch in Lucerne. While his early exploits preparing food took place in such culinary-rich countries like France, Holland, and Switzerland, he also spent time in Spain, Israel, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Arrival in the United States
When Chef Sal finally made it to the United States in 1970, he had a palate filled with world experience that he was ready to share with Americans. In almost no time, he opened up a restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called Déjà vu that was named one of the finest French Restaurants in the US by Bon Appétit Magazine. The success of the restaurant was not just a local affair and it was not fleeting. The restaurant was a focal point of Philly cuisine for a long time.
"Déjà vu was the focus of our lives at that time. I cooked, oversaw the staff, and ran the day-to-day function of the restaurant. One night, Francis Ford Coppola came in for dinner and offered me a bit part in his latest upcoming movie, The Godfather III, but I turned him down because I said I was too busy!" Chef Sal says. "I can laugh now, but that's a tough memory to digest. However, I still do have the page he signed in the guest book that night, declaring Déjà vu 'the finest restaurant in the world!!'"
After so many years of success in Philadelphia, Chef Sal and his wife decided that they needed a change of pace, so they sold their house and their restaurant and moved to Palm Beach, Florida.
Taking Florida by Storm
Within a short time of the move to Florida, Chef Sal was involved in three restaurants; the first two were given his last name, Montezinos, and were located in Orlando and Palm Beach. The third restaurant was called Angelique and was located in Boca Raton. All three restaurants garnered rave reviews, but Angelique was proclaimed one of the best restaurants in America by Esquire Magazine.
"In these restaurants, I expanded and refocused my repertoire of menu items to concentrate on the seafood and organic fresh fruits and vegetables that are abundant in the tropical environment that exists in The Sunshine State," he says. "Just smelling and eating those foods gave me a feeling of happiness."
Eventually, running three restaurants started to wear on Chef Sal and his wife and daughter, so he made a drastic choice to give up the life of a hands-on owner/chef/restaurateur and become an executive chef in some well-known restaurants. He did this for a little while, but found it unsatisfying, so he took an offer with another company to be the corporate executive chef for three restaurants in Florida, Chicago, and Hawaii. This proved to be a better fit, but not a lasting one, as an offer to move back to Philadelphia and become the executive chef at a first-class hotel/condominium in Rittenhouse Square proved too good to turn down.
The move back to Philadelphia seemed to be perfect, as Chef Sal enjoyed running the restaurant and he and his wife lived close to their daughter who was going to college in New York. Then, as happens in all of our lives at some point, tragedy struck. Chef Sal's beloved wife, Susan, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in May of 2000.
Overcoming A Horrible Tragedy
"I was devastated," Chef Sal says. "And I knew that I had no idea how to get beyond the grief and sadness that I woke up with and went to bed with every single day."
By keeping his wife's positive attitude in his heart and by following the courage she had nurtured in him to follow his dreams, he slowly worked his way through the grieving process. One of the ways he did this was to get to know himself again, and by his own admission, he began to take better care of his body.
"I began exercising, running, working out at the gym, eating a healthy diet, learning about the effects of foods, minerals, enzymes, vitamins, and positive thoughts on the body," he says.
After a year of self-reflection and grieving, Chef Sal met Judy Castille, who would become his second wife 18 months later.
Moving On and Finding a New Passion
Along with improving his health and well being, Chef Sal began to encounter people who would spark his interest in raw cuisine and the alkaline diet.
"I met a woman named Debra Van Schaardenberg who is extremely knowledgeable about the effects of certain diets and how one's blood reacts to those foods," he says. "During the course of the time I spent developing healthy, raw, alkaline-based recipes, I would discuss these dishes with Debra."
But why the focus on raw alkaline-based recipes? Chef Sal explains the benefits in laymen's terms perfectly in his new book:
Many diets that you may be familiar with are either alkaline or acid based, but are not necessarily referred to that way. They have names like Atkins, Zone, and Stillman and they focus on high protein/low carbohydrates, high carbohydrates/low fat and various combinations thereof. Most of these diets are followed by people in an effort to lose weight. Weight might be the least of what is lost by adhering to an all-or-nothing diet: important minerals and vitamins essential to our bodies are lost as well.
There is a consensus that a raw, alkaline-based diet can help you lose weight. Naturally, ceasing to eat foods that are high in sugar, flour, and fat only stands to reason that you most likely would lose weight. Using this diet to simply lose weight is not its purpose; however if you choose to eat this way to achieve a weight goal, you will also receive many other – perhaps unexpected benefits.
It is important to understand how the combination of alkaline and acid forming foods works within our bodies to achieve and sustain normal pH levels. The foods we eat will leave behind either an alkaline or an acid ash once the food has been metabolized.
That ash has a direct effect on the pH levels in your body. pH refers to power of Hydrogen, meaning the concentration of hydrogen ions present in a substance. The neutral pH level is 7; water for instance has a pH level of 7. The pH levels in foods above 7 are alkaline forming foods; conversely, the pH levels in food below 7 are acid forming.
The Benefits of a Raw Alkaline Diet
Chef Sal explains that if there is too much alkaline ash in our bodies that makes our pH levels rise, we can end up with a condition known as alkalosis. If we have too much acid ash in our bodies, which makes our pH levels plummet, we can end up with acidosis.
Each of these conditions has strong negative symptoms and side effects that can lead to a host of illnesses. The beauty of the raw alkaline diet is that parasites, mold, yeast, and most harmful bacteria cannot survive in an alkaline environment.
"I have come to appreciate the feeling of extreme well being when I ingest a diet of raw, alkaline forming foods. I have also been a Life Extension® member for over 20 years. I take CoQ10, Green Coffee Extract, and Alpha Lipoic Acid. I am 74-years-old now and when I combine my diet regimen and supplements with my exercise routine, I feel better than I ever have my whole life. It's all natural and it's what works best for me," Chef Sal says.
By following a raw-alkaline diet and making some of the delicious recipes in Chef Sal's new book, this eating plan might work best for you as well!
For more information on Chef Sal or his new book, visit www.evolvewithflavor.com.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.