Yesterday we spoke with Franklin Becker, the chef at both Abe & Arthur’s and Lexington Brass. He told us all about revamping the menu at Abe & Arthur’s and what food trends are here to stay. Today we shift gears as he tells us about being diagnosed with diabetes and what he thinks about the whole Paula Deen/diabetes brouhaha.
You got diagnosed with diabetes when you were rather young. How did that change your style of cooking?
I did. I was 27. It transformed my cooking style and definitely my eating style. Although Abe & Arthur’s is about excess, and over-the-top, and large formats, that’s not the way I eat. I’m very careful about what I eat. I incorporate a lot of fiber, and vegetables, and soy protein into my diet and my cooking. The cauliflower head [we make at the restaurant] is not too healthy, but the milk solids are cooked out of the brown butter so the excess fat goes to the garbage and what’s left is the flavor. At Lexington Brass, we really incorporate vegetables into our program, though there, it’s more bistro-ish, which allows us to come in at a more affordable price point. We have a great burger, which I won Burger Bash with, and we have a great fish and chips, but also healthy options. We have a vegan dish that’s Swiss chard stuffed with quinoa. And I have a website, Two Reasons One Recipe, about healthy cooking, and I’m working on a new cookbook. I haven’t named it yet, but it’s more on healthy cooking.
What do you think of the whole diabetes controversy surrounding Paula Deen?
I have a lot of thoughts about it. I’m not Paula Deen so I can’t govern how she dines or doesn’t dine. When I got diabetes I chose to do something that benefits me. For all I know, she is following a diet. … I dunno, it’s a weird topic.
OK then, new topic. What are you making for the Super Bowl?
I am not cooking for the Super Bowl. I’m actually going on a trip on Holland America cruises to Belize. But I’m still going to watch the game. Go Giants!
So what would you cook if you were home?
Personally, I grill my chicken wings. I tend to go lighter, so I’ll grill chicken wings with ginger, garlic, and scallions. I’ll marinate them in that with canola oil and grill those with a little bit of soy sauce. As far as nachos, I make my own tortillas, and I add a hint of garlic and red onion in my guacamole. And I add piquillo peppers, lime, olive oil, and cilantro, so it’s nice and clean and flavorful. I stay away from heavy cheese sauces. It’s lighter Super Bowl cooking.
Where in New York do you live?
I live in Maspeth, Queens.
Any cool local haunts?
In Maspeth? No. Outside of Rosa’s Pizza, I don’t think there’s much. It’s more of a residential area. But I do love going to Tertulia. It’s just fantastic. And I really like RedFarm and Roberta’s.
What do you do on your day off?
On my day off, I really enjoy playing Xbox 2K12 with my son and playing basketball. My kids are my day off.