Eating healthy just got a lot easier thanks to the mastermind behind Tom Brady's diet plan.
After working with the Patriots superstar and his wife Gisele Bundchen, chef Allen Campbell hopes to help Bostonians reach their "peak performance" with his new food service Avail. Geared towards corporate wellness programs and health-conscious locals, the recently launched venture offers delicious meals that utilize organic and sustainable ingredients.
We caught up with the Chelmsford native to chat about the launch of Avail, what it was like to work with Brady on the "TB12 Nutrition Manual" and more.
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What was your thought process behind creating Avail?
Avail is a project that I've been honing in on for a while. I come from a very traditional background, high-end food. From 2009-2010, I started to morph into this sort of healthy, all about wellness lifestyle. My philosophy has completely changed from what it was to what it is now. So here I find myself back in Boston working for top athletes and top models and all this, and I now have this passion to provide the same food that I used to provide for clients to the masses. For me, the best way to do that is Avail. Avail becomes the way to really reach the people of Boston and provide them options that they otherwise might not have here.
What can people expect from Avail's menu?
My philosophy is really grounded in a plant base foundation. I really believe that we need to eat more plants. Not only are plants better for overall human health, but eating more plants is also better for the planet. I think it's no coincidence that if we eat more plants, human health will improve and so will our habitat.
In the warmer months, the spring and the summer, there will be a lot more raw food and salads and creative dishes that maybe people haven't seen here on the east coast. The cold months, there'll be more soups and there'll be some meat or hardy root vegetables. The menus will change according to the season. It's like another level of local-seasonal.
How do you convince health food skeptics to take it seriously?
Look, I'm from Boston, so I've gotten pushback from my closest loved ones. I was an atypical Bostonian before I started to open my mind. Really all I ever did was open my mind. As soon as I say plant based, people assume that I mean vegan. Some of it is re-educating the consumer through my branding and letting them know that plant based means the base of that word, it doesn't mean vegan.
I'll try to be as familiar as possible with the flavor profiles. Swapping out one ingredient for another. Instead of white rice, brown rice. Instead of white potato, sweet potato. As simple as that might sound for someone who's health-conscious, those can be huge steps for someone who's on the fence of even trying something that's outside the norm of what they might be eating in a standard American diet.
You did an interview last year where you talked about your meal plans for Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen. Did seeing that story go viral surprise you?
Very much so. I was not ready, not one bit, for that. That was the first time I had ever talked to the media in that way. At the time, I was working on the book I wrote with him and I was head down, in the zone. I just had a quick conversation with a reporter and the next thing you know. I took the picture in a t-shirt. I wasn't ready for, like you could tell if you read through the lines, I wasn't there for that. It was very nonchalant, "Yeah take a picture, do an interview." All of a sudden I'm being bombarded with international attention. So no I wasn't, I wasn't ready at all. I had no idea, to be honest. Maybe I should have, because they are big celebrities, but I wasn't ready for that at all.
Did you enjoy working with Brady on the nutrition manual?
I enjoyed it tremendously. That turned into a memoir of my time with him. Every recipe in there was specific to what he liked as a person. I didn't have to do that, but I chose to kind of personalize it to him as an individual and try to do it in a way that would obviously still look like a cookbook and be available to the masses. So it is very personal to me. I obviously made it in his house. Every recipe that's in the book, I tested in his house. Every picture, I took in the house. It was just an amazing experience. I'm so glad that people get to enjoy those recipes. They're really special to me.
Besides Avail, do you have any other fun projects for 2018?
In early 2018, my next book will launch. My next book is called "The Game of Eating Smart." It's a collaboration with Julie Loria, who owns the Miami Marlins, and 20 different players from all different teams, some of the top players in Major League Baseball—Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, some of the biggest names and MVPs in the MLB. That will be a commercially published book that hits every major city. That's really, really exciting and I'm hoping to do a pop-up in Chelsea Market during the time of the launch and really just bring people in. The focus of that book is to shed a light on healthy eating in the baseball world.