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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Pure Food

A Chef's Handbook for Eating Clean, with Healthy, Delicious Recipes

ISBN: 9781942952176

Publisher: BenBella Books

Publication Date: 7/5/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars

You are what you eat. And what you’re eating isn’t good. With the proliferation of artificial additives, hormones, antibiotics, and the thousand other man-made substances and chemical cocktails lurking in our grocery bags, eating healthy, natural foods is trickier than ever. It’s no coincidence that America’s health is flagging, with obesity and type 2 diabetes now at epidemic levels. Taking control of your diet doesn’t have to be a challenge. Pure Food will show you how easy—and how much healthier—it is to cook clean, delicious foods. Kurt Beecher Dammeier, chef, restaurateur, food entrepreneur, retailer, and educator has spent the past 30 years of his life working to rid his own diet of food additives, and nearly 20 creating and selling pure, unadulterated foods through his Seattle-based family of food businesses (including Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Pasta & Co, and Bennett’s Restaurant). In Pure Food, Kurt shares his own story, as well as providing a roadmap for readers to forge a diet based on pure, additive-free foods. Part handbook and part cookbook, Pure Food contains more than 70 delicious and natural recipes for pure living. Unlike most cookbooks, Pure Food’s recipes are organized in threads—which start with a primary meal component like chicken, and progress through a series of dishes that use the primary ingredient in different ways—to help you get the most from your cooking. Make Braised Beef Chuck Roast for Sunday supper, followed up by Monday night Beef Chili, and Beef and Mushroom Lasagna to use up the leftover roast on Tuesday. It also contains an assortment of sauces and sides, from Red Fresno Sriracha and 4 Year Flagship Aioli to Red Cabbage Peperonata and Wilted Collard Greens. And leave room for dessert, like Apple Pear Crisp and Beecher's No-Bake Super-Light Cheese Cake. Whether you’re a serial dieter or trying for the first time to improve the way you eat, Pure Food will revolutionize how you approach food and lead you down the path to a healthier life.

My Review

A special thank you to BenBella and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Well known, chef, restaurateur, food entrepreneur, retailer, and educator, Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s exciting new cookbook PURE FOOD, A Chef's Handbook for Eating Clean, with Healthy, Delicious Recipes — reflects his tremendous passion for healthy food, including insightful education into the food industry; additives, preservatives, processed foods and its critical health connections; from inspiring recipes, as well as his personal journey, with helpful tools and cooking tidbits, for an all-in-one guide to addictive-free foods. “Commit yourself to the simple goal of avoiding additives. The rest falls into place.” The food photography is excellent by Barnard & Meyer in Dallas, a critical element for a superior cookbook, with high resolution color images. Nicely laid out in an organized manner. His work with Beecher’s Pure Food Kids Foundation is amazing, along with all his business models; with an ultimate goal to help change the way we eat in American. To arm families with the tools they need to cut additives from their lives. For me, the most exciting part of the book: The ongoing education and initiatives regarding additives and preservative, processed foods, and The Pure Food Nation's efforts--Call to Action. It is always a pleasure hearing from a chef’s point of view, the difficulties for many of us who have chosen to lead a pure food life, without these nasty additives and preservatives. You have two choices: you can wait for science to catch up to what you already instinctively know, or you can take the artificial stuff out of your life now. I agree with the author: There is one thing you can do above all else-- to take your health into your own hands. Pure Food is geared toward helping adults remove additives from their diets by changing the way they shop, cook, and eat. Even though I have been doing this for the last five or more years, I still enjoy keeping abreast of updated information, while supporting ongoing efforts. We all have to work together to change the way America eats- a collaborative effort. In addition, to the education, insights, and personal experience, the author gives us tools and equipment tidbits, and delicious recipes. Since I am a vegan, not able to indulge in some of the recipes, but enjoyed the ones I tried, and of course the interesting subject material, and the stunning food photography. Many of you who have read my previous reviews or blog are aware I chose more than five years ago to make the choice of pure foods, and never regretted it. As a vegan (no dairy, breads, meats, or processed foods, sugars, alcohol, chemicals, additives or preservatives), I maintain a healthy lifestyle and would never go back. It took years of food journaling, targeting the problems, and slowly eliminating all the bad things. It is a lifestyle choice and one I would recommend to others. As we age our bodies cannot fight, the way it does when we are younger (plus over time gets worse). Much like the author, foods I had never had any issues with previously, began bothering me. Things I thought were healthy too. Then one day all the food allergies started with serious consequences, leading to ongoing severe allergic reactions, analyphaxis, and heart problems, plus more. As the author reiterates, the current debate over food additives—and their presumed safety, unless otherwise proven unsafe— is a reminder of another major public health crisis. "Cigarettes." For some, it was far too late for those who had succumbed to their poison. He believes and I agree, that food additives will chart a similar course. I found the chef’s journey fascinating. The wake-up call, the ingredients and additives used in restaurants, using industrial powders which are not good for us. The chemical flavorings, and the eye-opening behind the scenes-things diners cannot imagine. From Pasta & Co, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Beecher’s Pure Food Kids Foundation, which use 1% of sales from the company to educate school children about how to be savvier consumers of processed foods. From 2006 his cookbook, Pure Flavor, Bennett’s a casual bistro, then Maximus/Minimus—a food truck. Since then he has expanded Beecher’s to New York City and opened another bistro in Seattle called Liams. His company name is Sugar Mountain, homage to the Neil Young song. Sugar Mountain is committed to offering pure, full flavored, additive-free food. You have to want to make a change. Like diets, addictions or anything you set your mind to do. However, by educating our kids to be a “detective “and teaching them how to read ingredients in foods, nutrition labels, investigating packaged foods for nutritional content, understanding chemical additives, consumption, health risks, and serving size—creates awareness. To arm kids with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy food choices. Empower them to make a healthier world with fruits and vegetables (not chemicals). Hopefully they will educate their parents and influence them in their buying decisions. If the parents do not educate themselves, we have to work through our children. In the end, it may be years down the road, they will find the harmful effects of years of abusive eating. Our industry makes the bad things appear sexy and appealing. Like cigarettes, by the time the food industry finally admits the health consequences, will be too late for many. Start educating now and making changes! There are many harmful chemical interactions and most people eat over a hundred different chemicals in a single day. Alarming! The food industry is free to dump additives into our food virtually unregulated. Many implications of the food people sell are slowly rising to the surface with lawsuits, food poisoning, and outbreaks. Accountability. As we all are aware, food companies use industrial additives to lower their costs and increase consumption by engineering textures, flavors, and shapes designed to impossible to resist and consumer buy it. We have to demand better products and force more transparent disclosure of what’s in them. We then vote with our wallets. Our greatest power over food companies and our general health is where we spend our next dollar. We are seeing some hope! With books, like this, online bloggers, education, and awareness, (some of us learning the hard way) - people are waking up to the potential dangers of food additives--demanding change from companies that use them. The more people do so, the easier it will be to force changes.

PURE FOOD outlines some immediate steps to help reshape how food companies advertise to kids and how kids learn about and consume food and beverages: • Vote for legislators who prioritize a pure food agenda and keep them accountable. • Improve transparency by requiring both food manufacturers and restaurants to list ALL ingredients in the food and beverages they sell, including liquor, beer, and wine. • Implement a ban on the advertising, and all marketing of food, and beverages to youth. • Vote with your dollars. Buy the purest products that you can afford, produced by companies that prioritize ingredient transparency. • Empower schools to model healthy food choices. Join the conversation at

From chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes, asthma or allergies--- all these plus more will benefit from a diet free from food additives. They are known to cause these health problems. I am living proof of this. I support and applaud every book and initiative to help further this cause. Taking control of your diet doesn’t have to be a challenge. PURE FOOD will show you how easy—and how much healthier—it is to cook clean, delicious foods. Recommend!

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Advance Praise

“This spectacular cookbook reflects all the passion and joy Kurt puts into feeding people. Pure Food will inspire chefs and enliven meals everywhere.” —Ethan Stowell, chef and owner of Ethan Stowell Restaurants

“Kurt Dammeier’s Pure Food is one of the most compelling books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Part personal story, part treatise on ‘real’ food and part cookbook; this book sucks you into Kurt’s story, makes your mouth water and teaches you all at once. . . . Read this book—shop—cook with your family and then sit down at the table and enjoy!” —Ann Cooper, internationally recognized chef, author, and founder of the Chef Ann Foundation

“With Kurt’s book Pure Food, he proves that healthy, well-sourced food doesn’t have to compromise on flavor.” —Tom Colicchio, founder of Craft restaurants and Colicchio & Sons restaurants

“Kurt’s personal journey, skill as a chef, generosity of spirit, and commitment to helping people eat pure food is inspiring. No matter what your dietary stripes, this beautiful book gives you the tools to ditch processed foods, and instead source quality ingredients, and cook clean healthy foods with mind-blowing flavors.” —Tess Masters, author of The Blender Girl and The Blender Girl Smoothies

“Let’s follow Kurt's lead and insist on truthful, pure foods and at the same time make our dinner tables tastier, healthier and full of integrity!” —Tom Douglas, chef, restaurateur, author, and radio host

About the Author

A fourth-generation Puget Sound native, Kurt Beecher Dammeier entered the Seattle food scene with the purchase of Pasta & Co, an iconic Seattle gourmet shop for over thirty years. Since that time, he’s opened a number of Seattle food concepts under the Sugar Mountain umbrella, including Beecher's Handmade Cheese, Bennett's, Liam's, and Maximus / Minimus, where he serves as CEO and head chef of these businesses. His most recent addition to the Sugar Mountain family is two lines of premium meats: Mishima Reserve, a luxury Wagyu beef brand, and Beecher's Whey Fed Pork. With each endeavor, Kurt's goal is to demonstrate how quality ingredients make for delicious meals without the use of industrial additives like food colorings, flavor enhancers, or preservatives. Beyond his retail endeavors, Kurt effects change in people's eating habits through his 2007 cookbook, Pure Flavor, and the Beecher's Pure Food Kids Foundation (501c3), founded in 2004. Each year, the Foundation's Pure Food Kids Workshop empowers more than 11,000 fourth and fifth grade students in the Seattle Metro area and in New York City to make healthy food choices for life. The program's mission is to spark curiosity in kids about what they eat, empower them to make healthier choices through label reading, and inspire them with the opportunity to cook and eat a wholesome, delicious meal right in the classroom. Read More

Kurt Beecher Dammeier is an entrepreneur and self-taught cook. Since opening Beecher's Handmade Cheese in Seattle in 2003, Dammeier has quickly become known as an American cheese industry expert. In addition to Beecher's, he owns four Pasta & Co gourmet retail shops and Bennett's Pure Food Bistro on Mercer Island, Washington, where he lives with his wife and their three sons.

Visit these establishments online at www.,, and






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