Then the Vegan Black Metal Chef mixes the potatoes with a dollop of dairy-free Earth Balance buttery spread and a splash of almond milk and plates them attractively on a spiked metal tray with some vegetarian baked beans and a serving of corn.
A few weeks ago, a video appeared online. It was called — yes! — “Vegan Black Metal Chef Episode 1: Pad Thai.” It featured a man in chain mail, arm bracers and rubber shoulder armor (“pauldrons”) whipping up a delightful noodle dish in his kitchen. “Cut the tofu in half, like so,” he instructed in guttural snarl. “You are missing one ingredient. That is, of course, the heat . . . of . . . SATAN.”
It has more than a million views.
It is your cooking future.
Now, in the kitchen of his Orlando bungalow — the decor is a cozy dungeon-chic — the show’s star is working on Episode 2, to be posted online this week. It’s a manic endeavor in which he showcases three different vegan meals, including his Redneck Special starring mashed potatoes.
“People have said, ‘You should put this on the Food Network,’ ” says Brian Manowitz. (Vegan Black Metal Chefs are usually not born as such, and sometimes they are born as nice Jewish boys in Tampa named Brian Manowitz.) “I don’t know if the Food Network would really be interested.”
YouTube is. YouTube has become the repository for extreme cooking shows — cook-or-die kinds of shows, which are equal parts pageantry and commentary on just what America is doing in its collective kitchen.
Occasionally a black metal chef needs to go grocery shopping.
“I am always on the lookout for a good vegetarian soup stock,” says Manowitz, examining the ingredients on the back of a small foil packet.
Here we are, in a strip-mall Asian market that smells like dried mushrooms and fish paste. Manowitz slowly pushes his cart through the narrow aisles, casually drumming his black-polished nails against the handle, pausing to admire the imitation-meat products in the frozen foods section. Generally, he stays away from imitation meat. However, he says, “I can make a really good vegan shrimp scampi.”
His hair is in a ponytail. His build is muscular. His skin is pale and slightly irritated, the way skin gets when it is frequently covered with face paint.
Manowitz’s series is called “Vegan Black Metal Chef,” but it could have just as easily been called “What do vegans eat, anyway?” This is the question that Manowitz set out trying to answer. It is the question that every vegan is forever getting from every omnivore who seems to believe there is a parallel dimension of secret vegan foods.