Kevin Curry Talks FitMenCook And Reveals Home Chef Partnership - Exclusive Interview

You know the feeling— walking into your home after a long work day, tired and hungry, with just two things on your mind: dinner and relaxing by the television, only to remember that when you enter the kitchen, you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer that morning. Now what are you supposed to cook? Well, meal kits may be the answer for you. Meal kits have been increasing in popularity as of late, with revenue in the industry expected to grow over 17 billion dollars in 2022 alone (via Statista). Kevin Curry, creator of Fit Men Cook, is a strong proponent for meal kits with recipes that he conjured up himself. 

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Curry talked about what it's like to be a recipe creator and how to ensure a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The food blogger dove into his new partnership with Home Chef that highlights easy and fast meal kit recipes for people on-the-go. The collab will feature four recipes: Smoky Chipotle Chicken Tacos, Stuffed Chicken Parmesan, a Beef Egg Roll Rice Bowl, and Enchilada Turkey Meatloaf. Did someone say taco tuesdays?! 

Kevin reveals why he partnered up with Home Chef

I would love to start out [by having you] tell me a brief overview about your partnership with Home Chef.

I've been in the blogging game in the wellness space now for [10 years in August] ... Oh, my God. I just thought about this. This is an anniversary thing at Home Chef. A long time ago, I used to work with Kroger quite a bit. I remember when Home Chef [and Kroger began to work together]. I've been watching that partnership and their work for quite some time. 

Now, to be at this point in my career, to be able to offer my recipes with them, it's a great feeling. The thing that I like about them is that there's a lot of ... We're very similar in terms of our outlooks on food.

I'm not an absolutist. I eat everything. Not every meal that I have has to have meat in it, but I like cheese, [and] I can also eat a quinoa salad and some cranberries. That's their same approach. Food is food. It's not labeling it as good or bad, and they embrace all that. 

I also like the fact that I've been showing people and I've been aiming to show people how easy and accessible cooking can be. They tackle that in a very different way. They've got the oven ready meals where you could pop into the oven and then they have the meals where everything comes pre-portioned and pre-packaged.

I was sharing with somebody today that a friend of mine sent me this funny meme, talking about Instagram chefs like, "Here's a quick 10 minute recipe. Step one, chop up an onion." They're like, "See what I mean?" I'm thinking, "That's easy to me, but it's not the average consumer," and Home Chef gets that. They're able to take my recipes and break them down so that they can be as easy as I'm telling people that they are.

Kevin reveals the meal kit recipes he really loves

You touched upon this a little bit, when comparing your like-minded views with Home Chef, but what is your thought process when you decide to partner with brands like these?

Is there alignment in terms of philosophy and outlook? Who are the populations that they're serving? One thing that's been super important is access, and not everything is going to be accessible to everybody. As long as there's a good faith effort to go into doing that, then that's a big plus. 

The other plus is I wouldn't go ahead and partner with a brand that's strictly [saying], "We only do low carb." Oh, well. I don't do low carb. I do a whole bunch of other stuff. I do low carb today. My breakfast was low carb. My dinner, high carb.

There's got to be alignment right there within the philosophy. Also, with my audience the way that it is — people think that I'm from New York, because they think I'm Dominican, but I live in Dallas. I've got a huge following in Miami and in LA, too. When I partner with the brand, I want to be able to be with a brand that actually can speak to the different pockets around the country that the brand touches. Home Chef does that.

I got a little bit of a brief synopsis of the recipes that you will be selling with Home Chef, but could you give fans a sneak peek as to what the summer recipes you will be offering are?

Being from Texas, tacos are life. It's like saying hello to somebody. One thing I really love is I made this sweet Chipotle taco and I was able to work with the Home Chef recipe developers and their whole food team to transform it into something that's a little bit more unique. My followers will get a first bite at this. 

It's a Smokey Chipotle chicken taco and that one literally is a 15 minute meal. Don't write me being like, "Yeah, it took me more than that." Everything is portioned out for them. [This is] one that I absolutely love, [especially] when you come home from work and you're tired, you don't want to do anything.

This [other meal] functions as one of those sheet pan dinners, and it's the stuffed chicken parmesan. It's stuffing it with cheese and vegetables and it's low carb and it's carb conscious rather and it's amazingly delicious. [I have] two more that I really love. One of the recipes that did very well on social media when I made it was a beef egg roll bowl. Take out the wrapping of the egg roll, put it into a bowl, toss it with some rice. I was able to recreate that one. 

We [also] took a recipe that people like for meal prepping from my cookbook and it's an enchilada Turkey meatloaf. We put them into a little muffin bin, so that way, they're better for portion control. We had the same type of idea here to do that. If people want to eat some right now and have some for later, they can do that.

The one recipe Kevin can't stop making right now

What kind of recipes, out of my own curiosity, do your followers or your fans respond to the most?

Full flavored, anything that reminds them of comfort foods, and Asian recipes. That's why I love the beef egg and rice bowl and no one says no to a taco, unless there's something that's completely wrong. [They love] anything that reminds them of the foods that they really do love but done in a different way perhaps to lessen the amount of calories or to make it align better to one's goals.

Are there any recipes right now that you find yourself making most or can't get enough of?

I was in a funk and I was about to turn into a little thing of orzo. Good Lord. I had so much orzo I made this orzo tomato, you've probably seen it out there. It's orzo, tomato, cucumber, parsley, maybe a little cilantro –

Oh, yeah, the salad. 

Yeah, I put some shrimp in there one time, put some chicken in there another time, chickpeas — I'm like, "Kevin, stop making, stop. You gotta put some avocado in there, too."

Kevin gives his take on food waste

Due to your experience with home cooking and now the meal kits, I would love to get your take on meal prepping and food waste.

Thank you for asking this question. I don't think other people ask me this question enough and this is maybe the first time people have connected the two.

When I was first starting out and doing social media, the meal prep posts had everybody like, "Oh my God, I can't get enough of this." I post it and have all these meals on the table for the entire week. I cooked once. That stuff sounds good but the majority of people aren't doing that and I've seen even myself [that] there's a lot of food waste that goes into it. 

What I tell people to do is to be a lot more practical. Yes, it may require you to cook twice during the week, but if you cook twice during the week, that means that you don't have to spend three hours each time. Maybe it's an hour each time to go ahead and do that.

The benefit of that is that you only have about two or three day's worth of food. You're less likely to get tired of it and come up with an excuse to throw it away, or to drown it in some sort of sauce or whatnot. Then, it's "Well, what's the point?" I encourage people to not eat with their eyes and not shop with their eyes. 

When you walk into the grocery store, you see all the produce. You're like, "Yeah, this is my week. This is it. I'm going to be eating this, this, and this." You know darn well by Friday it looks like a science project in the back. [It's about] level setting people like, "It's okay." It comes with a cultural shift, people understanding that and not everything can be done in an instant. For some reason, we're conditioned to think that. People always say, "Life is in an instant." It's like, "Well, losing life is in an instant, but life is actually pretty long. You don't really have to rush through."

That's a good point.

Enjoy the ride.

How Kevin shortens his time in the kitchen

You mentioned making longer meals and taking time. Do you have any trick and tips or advice for people who enjoy cooking, but may not have the time for it?

I like to buy a lot of them. I've seen these now a lot more, but [by] buying prepped, frozen ingredients, you can get chopped onion, you can get quinoa, you can get chopped kale, garlic, ginger — all those things that actually take up time, [like] bell pepper, those things that tend to maybe inflate the time in the kitchen because you're having to prep and then you cook. That'll cut down on some of the whole time factor.

My tip for people is we tend to look at recipes in tunnel vision. You may want to make two things. People tend to [think], "All right, I'm going to make this recipe first, and then I'm going to make this recipe." You got to show people or people need to begin to cook things concurrently.

You look at the ingredients from both recipes that are going to take the most and you start those things together. That way, you're lessening your time in the kitchen and just like in a workout, you never stop moving and it's to your benefit. If you're not cooking something, you're cleaning up what you just did.

If you're cleaning something up, then you're moving on to that next step, you're monitoring it. If you're not doing that, then you're getting out your meal, prep containers or your stuff so that way, that's ready to go. When you're not doing that, you're cleaning and repeating. All those things, when you treat it like you would anything else, like an actual task, then not only does it become more enjoyable, but that time that you were spending in the kitchen gets really small.

I found that when you keep cleaning until after you eat is a dreaded task in itself. It's the worst.

Don't let it be at night because you'll wake up in the morning and be like, "I have to do this later on."

Kevin explains how he got started in content creation

I was watching some of your new recipe videos on Instagram. What is your inspiration behind new recipe videos? How do you keep coming up with all of that content?

It's stuff that I'm eating personally. My journey started, even in social media, with me sharing my own diet and that hasn't changed 10 years later. I'm still sharing stuff that I'm eating personally, so there's that, and then I love traveling. I love to eat out.

A lot of people within the wellness community, especially those who have lost a whole bunch of weight, they have a lot of anxiety about eating. I was one of those people too. What I had to realize is that one meal that's not completely stripped down is not going to derail all of my goals. One "good meal" isn't going to undo all the years. I've learned to drop that guard and eat out. 

Eating out gives me inspiration, being like, "Hey, this would be dope. You know, this Pad Thai is pretty good. I wonder how I can remake it, cut the calories with it, but still get the essence so I can put it into my meal prep." That's what I'm trying to do.

You mentioned your background a little bit. How did you really get started with the brand Fit Men Cook?

It was on a whim. I was broke. I didn't have money for a personal trainer, so I started up a Tumblr blog. The whole idea was to crowdsource my diet. What I mean by crowdsourcing is posting every single meal that I'm eating and then hope that people, trainers, and other people out there will see it and be like, "Hey, that's good. You should think about eating more of this and not that" ... All of a sudden I'm getting free advice because I couldn't pay for it, and the reverse happened. People began to ask me questions about what I was eating because I was losing weight. I was sharing that, sharing my journey in food.

Kevin gives advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle

I saw that you have a cookware and a food storage line available on Amazon. What makes your containers different from the basic containers and kitchen items that you see every day?

That's easy. The stainless steel one, I believe, is one you're talking about. I had been using another one for so long on social media. Everyone's like, "Oh my God, I really love it." I'm like, "I need to make my own." What they didn't know is that I hated the one that I kept showing, [but] it photographed really well.

It was leaky. You couldn't even get a full meal in there. It looked great for a picture, but it wasn't practical. With my 50 ounce ones, it's big enough for one very large meal and I've always wanted to have a divider. I designed this little divider and the inside that's also a silicon insert and it's got about a cup and a half worth of space in there with the top. 

You can put salad dressing in there. You can put nuts, you can put whatever in there. That also serves as a divider in the container. People really love it. It's rugged as well in terms of, you can beat it up, but be kind. I'm really proud of that product. It's got five stars. People are still writing us saying, "Hey, we love it," because it's a practical lunch box. You can fit a whole meal or two meals in it.

Would you be able to share how you keep up with a healthy and balanced lifestyle? Maybe some of your everyday tips that you use?

Get on a routine and map out what you're going to eat, so that way, there's not a lot of trying to figure stuff out on the fly. Things are much easier whenever you have a plan. Start small, don't overhaul everything on day one. In fact, you don't even have to start with your diet. You could start with a habit. Maybe your habit is drinking too much Coke. Maybe your habit is not getting enough sleep, so work on that one habit. 

Once you got that down after 20 days or 30 days, then you look back and you're like, "Okay, that wasn't so bad. Let me add something else." It's the continual adding of stuff on that  gets your momentum going, because then you're getting happy because [you're thinking], "Oh I did that."

Kevin names the one food he can't live without

If you could pick one ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I'd probably say the avocado. It's so sneaky because I can put that into a little bit of everything. It's high calorie. I can make it sweet if I wanted to, turn into a candy-like creamy situation where you put in some spices and stuff and that's dope. [It's] also on the savory side having something that's real salty and the umami factor could be there. I'd probably say the avocado is one ingredient that I could eat the rest of my life.

Yeah. That's a good answer. It's a really versatile and it's still popular. I think it'll always be popular.

I hope so.

Head to Home Chef's website to learn more about their partnership with Kevin, or check out Kevin's Instagram page for more recipe and meal tips.

This interview has been edited for clarity.