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EDITORIAL Kimmie Smith

Co-Founder, Creative + Style Director

Paul Farkas

Co-Founder, Artistic Director + Tech Director




E-mail: Website: Athleisure Mag TM , a Division of Athleisure Media LLC.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS Paul Farkas | Kimmie Smith

HOST Kimmie Smith

MIXING Athleisure Studio Team




E-mail: Website:


table of contents

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For the Love of the Game 16 with Sofia Kenin We talk with this month’s cover, WTA 4th ranked tennis star, Sofia Kenin who won the Australian Open 2020 and was a finalist in the French Open 2020. We talk about the sport, how she prepares and what she’s focused on this season.

9DRIP STORI3S TM with Pooch Hall


We catch up with Ray Donovan, and the upcoming The Game reebot star, Pooch Hall as he shares his 9DRIP from things that he purchased when he made it, his go-to look and how he gifted his family.







Celeb Chef/Restaurateur and TV Personality Jordan Andino shares his 9DRIP.

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Make it Work


Tim Gunn talks about Amazon Original’s Season 2 of Making the Cut!

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This month’s 9PLAYLIST comes from country music star, Tyler Rich.

A Journey of Discovery


Celebrity Chef + TV Personality, Nyesha Arrington shares her culinary storytelling with us as well as her new show with Chef Gordon Ramsay, Next Level Chef.

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Celebrating Flavors

Harley Pasternak shares his 9LIST ROUTIN3S of what he does Morning, Afternoon and Night with us.


Celebrity Chef Eric Adjepong talks about being a Top Chef, bringing the flavors of West Africa to his food and his latest partnership with AYO Foods.

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9LIST ROUTIN3S TM 71 Harley Pasternak

Manifest Your Life


London Brown of HBO Ballers and is currently Uncle Marvin on STARZ’s Power Book III Raising Kanan. He shares how he manifested his life.



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The summer has a number of events that are on our calendar whether we're there in person or watching it on TV. The US Open happens to be one of those events that we enjoy here in NY as well as attending events around it from the Taste of Tennis and a series of media events - it's always an exciting time to see the best in the sport. We're excited for this month's cover, Sofia Kenin who has 5 WTA Singles Titles, 2 WTA Doubles Titles, WTA 4th ranked as well as the Reigning WTA Player of the Year! With a Grand Slam under her belt as the 2020 Australian Open Champion and making the finals at the French Open last year, we are excited to see how she continues to rock it in the sport! We talk about how she got into the sport, preparing for tournaments and how she takes time to enjoy the journey when traveling around the world to play as well as taking it all in as a tourist. ATHLEISURE MAG: When did you fall in love with tennis and at what point did you realize that you wanted to go pro? SOFIA KENIN: I fell in love with tennis at a very young age. I started playing tennis at the age of 5 and I was watching all of these pros and I was really looking up to them. I was like, around 6 years old and that’s when my dad took me to the Miami Open and that was the video that was going all around you know, when Kim Clijsters took me all around the site and of course, I was really excited since I was such a young girl at the time to see the press conferences, to be walking around and looking at the stadium. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I just had a big dream. AM: What is it about the sport that draws you to it? SK: Everything about tennis is such a great sport! It’s physical and it’s a great mental sport where you have to have toughness to play it. Of course, you get to travel around the world to see so many beautiful countries, you stay at the best hotels, the food of course, going out - of course

when there wasn’t a bubble and you could explore the city. Of course, there are all the opportunities that come with it and the competition as well! You’re able to do sports interviews, you have a team around you for the matches and when you walk on the court, it’s up to you so that you can compete and leave it all out there. AM: Our readers, and ourselves included, love watching tennis because it is fun to see our favorites traveling around the world. When it comes to training and prep, can you walk us through what a day or a week looks like in terms of practicing and working out due to an upcoming tournament? SK: I typically practice tennis twice a day 1 and a half hour practice sessions and after that, of course lunch and recovery with some of my KT Tape. Then, I’m back with my trainer for another couple of hours and recovery is very important in my daily life. I have to maintain a good recovery so that I can do my best during the training week and upcoming tournaments. AM: What are your go-to workouts that you do that optimize you in tennis? SK: Sprints, drills, agility, core – a little bit of that. Of course, weights in the gym. AM: In terms of the tennis season, when does it start and end for you? SK: Well of course, everything has changed with the whole pandemic! Typically, the tournaments start in January in Australia which has big travel days and everything which is where I won Australia! Of course, there are all those tournaments after that and it finishes off in Asia in the fall. But the end of the season this year, will be in Indian Wells which I can’t complain because I love Indian Wells – but we usually finish our season in Asia.

AM: What is your off season like? What do you do during that time? Are you still training or do you take time for yourself to realign everything?

ways wondered how people were able to play this as I was always anxious about where I was standing and where my partner was, it was terrifying!

SK: Of course, there is a lot of training and that’s when you have to build up physically and mentally and you do have to find some downtime. It’s not all about tennis, you’re traveling on the weeks and you obviously want to have some downtime to just go hang out with my friends, some time with my family, to go to the beach, to do some shopping! I love being able to hang out in the sun and to have time in the water and to be able to work on my tan as I can’t really do that all year. So I have about a month or so to get that tan and I need to use that time.

SK: It can be scary sometimes especially when the ball is coming to the net and then you’re like, “oh my God, am I going to get hit in the face?”

AM: It’s always fun to see singles and doubles matches because it’s interesting to see how a player has these different dynamics when playing each one. When you’re playing, is there a different approach to when you’re playing a singles match versus a doubles? SK: Of course, singles you’re kind of on your own and the court is wide open as you need to be able to move around a lot. But doubles, you’re with your partner and it’s my friends and you’re having a good time, you don’t have to be as serious as you do for singles, but of course you still want to be able to do well. Doubles requires that you have to have a really good connection with your partner and really good hands at the net, because both players are tough and you know that they have really good hands at the net. They know how to do I-formation. You can tell the difference between a doubles player and those that just want to have fun and play which would be me. It’s fun playing doubles, I like it! AM: It’s funny because when I worked at Lacoste HQ, our department would play tennis in the summers as a fun way to connect. I wasn’t concerned about the singles play, I was ok with that – I’m not a professional by any means, but the doubles! I al-

AM: Seriously! SK: Right, nowadays, you hit the ball around as you’d rather hit it out, then hit your opponents. AM: Over the past 18 months, we’ve interviewed a number of athletes and recording artists about how they were able to be creative or still active in their sport during the pandemic. We found that many of them had really creative ways that they were able to stay in shape. Did you have anything like that for last year that you had to navigate due to not being able to access certain courts or things like that? SK: Of course! It was really difficult for everyone! We were traveling and had safe bubbles when we were participating in our tournaments as we could only go to the hotel and straight to the tournament site. Obviously that was not the most fun thing, but ok – that’s what we had to do. It’s hard to be on the road for weeks and months at a time without being able to walk or to explore the beautiful city or Mother Nature. Over time, I have learned that small things have been working for me. I started a new TV show that I enjoy watching and I had a few, but I started watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians or I would play some music on Spotify. AM: Even with last year being such a tough year for so many of us in various ways, you were literally killing it! You won the Australian Open, you were a finalist at the French Open – what was it like to have that kind of achievement taking place?

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SK: It was absolutely amazing and I could never describe those moments. It was the highlight of my career. It has been a dream of mine to win a Grand Slam and I was completely speechless when I won. A few tournaments that happened after that, I didn’t win, but I am only human and it happens to everyone. When you win a Grand Slam, it’s exciting and you feel a lot of pressure after that and the expectations of those from the outside and I was able to somehow find myself back and I was able to close off the year as a French Open finalist! It was nice and I was happy for the way that I was able to come back, play tennis and to be able to prove to myself that I won a Grand Slam and that it wasn’t by accident. Unfortunately, I wish that I had won the French Open, but I got to the finals and not too many people can say that. I just hope that I can continue and that I will have many more Grand Slams under my belt. AM: For sure, I mean your stats and what you have accomplished is really phenomenal. Being ranked 4th in the WTA, being the top American in singles – that is such an amazing feat to have! What are your goals for the remainder of the season or what you’re looking forward to in terms of next year. SK: Number 1 is to stay healthy. We always downplay it and we look at tennis, tennis, but health is #1 and you can’t buy it. With all of these tournaments being back-toback, players can have injuries right now. It’s a great part of the season because we’re back in North America and playing in front of the US fans and I’m excited to be able to compete and to get back into my matches and hopefully continue to make more memories and getting more into the spotlight, I guess! AM: With the remainder of the season, do you have a favorite upcoming tournament that is always your favorite to go into? SK: I like all of them, but I’m obviously looking forward to the US Open. I love the fans, I love NYC and I love being there.

I look forward to after the pandemic being able to enjoy seeing the city, being able to walk down 5th Ave and to see all of the people and the beautiful city. AM: When you’re looking at your IG, of course we know you’re focused on your game, but it’s cool to see you enjoying being a tourist in the city that you’re competing in! What are your 3 favorite cities that you love to be in whether you’re shopping or eating? SK: Thank you for saying that I’m a tourist, because I love being that and when you’re shopping, you can never go wrong in Paris, Rome or NY, it’s one of the most beautiful cities. You can do really great shopping there as they are my favorites and they have the best food! AM: We love talking about a number of verticals from sports, travel etc. As the Style Director and fashion stylist, fashion and personal style are of interest to me as well as Athleisure Mag! I love the bold personal statements that you have made in your looks. How would you define your personal style? SK: I think fashion is super fun and I enjoy it! I have always wanted to be a fashion designer, maybe not drawing as I don’t have the best hands for that, but being able to put pieces together as a fashion stylist. I’m easy going. I like nice dresses, I like casual wear and of course I’m not afraid to wear colors or designs. I wear a little bit of everything. Of course, I like to wear the nice top designers and I try to shop there nowadays – not trying to be spoiled or anything, but I do like keeping up with the fashion. AM: We know you’re sponsored by FILA and in looking at your looks from last season, I love the Heritage Collection (Fall Heritage Dress) that you wore as well as Mad For Plaid (Print Racer Tank and Plaid Flared Skirt), what does it mean to have them as a sponsor and do you foresee designing a capsule collection with them?

SK: First of all, I really love the Heritage Collection as well! It’s such a great and prestigious brand and I really love that they have done such a great job in designing my clothes and we have such a great relationship. I’m really lucky to have them as my sponsors. They are super supportive of me and have always been there for me and have allowed me to be my authentic self. They also have great lifestyle clothes as well which I have obviously been asking for them to send me some outfits and shoes. It fits with my style and it’s great working with them. Once I start getting back and playing better, there is an option where maybe I can design something of my own! But right now, I enjoy what we’re doing now and maybe after my tennis career, down the road, I could be a fashion stylist or something of that nature as fashion can always come back! AM: We talked a bit earlier about KT Tape. Why do you feel there was such a synergy between you and the brand and that it made sense for them to be a sponsor for you? SK: It’s a great product for recovery and many people don’t realize how important recovery is. As a professional athlete, I believe that KT Tape as a brand and a company is one that fits authentically into my life. I love using products such as KT Tape Cold Massage Roller and the KT Recovery+ Pain Relief Gel Roll-On. I’m super proud to be part of that brand. AM: Couldn’t agree more. We find when we’re at photoshoots, press junkets, media events, attending NY Fashion Week and music festivals, their KT Performance+ Blister Treatment Patch and BFF Blister Prevention Tape is something that the team enjoys using so we can continue to stay on our feet and do the job that we need to do! You have such a passion for the sport, do you do anything to give of your time to assist the community or to work with kids that are drawn to tennis? SK: I love being an inspiration to kids and

the younger generation as I know that they look up to me. I participate in a number of activities in every tournament which I’m invited to. I love doing that. It’s a bit early in my career and a lot of players have their foundations and I help them in whatever way that I can. AM: You’re currently the WTA Player of the Year. What do you want your legacy to be in this sport? SK: Well I just want to keep playing and continue to enjoy myself. I want to win more Grand Slam titles. I’m 22 years old so I haven’t thought about my legacy, but I definitely want to be a role model to young girls that want to be a tennis player one day. I want them to remember my name and remember me as I have looked up to Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova – everyone that I have looked up to. They inspired me and I want to be someone like that for those coming up. I’d love to be an icon and maybe be the next Serena Williams, but maybe let me get a few more Grand Slams or be like the 3 GOATS Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who have all won 20 Grand Slams which is pretty incredible! If it’s possible, I will take it! AM: You're still in your season so when you’re not on the court, how do you take time for yourself? SK: Of course shopping because I love it and I’m crazy about it! I love to have dinner with my friends and family, going to the beach or I can stay in bed all day and just watch Netflix and Hulu and just relax! @Sofia.Kenin PHOTOS COURTESY | Front Cover, PG 21 + 22 KT TAPE | PG 16 -18, 25 + Back Cover Sofia Kenin |

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What New Yorkers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines New York City is committed to keeping everyone safe and healthy by ensuring that access to COVID-19 vaccines is fair and equitable. COVID-19 vaccines will likely be available for most New Yorkers by mid-2021. Some people, such as health care workers, essential workers who cannot separate from others, and older adults and other people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can currently get vaccinated. When you get vaccinated, you are helping to protect yourself and your family and friends. You are also helping to make your community safer. We know New Yorkers care about their communities, including health care workers and small business owners. Do the vaccines work? • Two COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) have been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In clinical studies, both vaccines were more than 94% effective at protecting participants from COVID-19. Are the vaccines safe? • Yes. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain the virus. It teaches your body’s immune system how to fight the virus, so it can fight the virus if you are exposed to it.

• The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through large clinical studies involving tens of thousands of people of various ages, races and ethnicities. The evidence from those studies was closely reviewed by the FDA and independent organizations.

• Researchers have been working on vaccines for coronaviruses for years, so they did not start from scratch. Are there side effects? • It is normal to experience side effects after the first or second dose of the vaccine. Common side effects include soreness in the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness and fever. • If you have any questions or concerns, call 311 or talk to your health care provider.

• Side effects can be unpleasant, but getting vaccinated helps protect you may help protect and other New Yorkers.

Make i t Wo with Tim Gun

orK nn

Tim Gunn is known well for his career at Parsons School of Design which started in 1982, he served as Associate Dean from 1989 - 2000 and would go on to becoming the Fashion Design Department Chair in August 2000. He is noted for retooling and invorgorating the curiculum for the 21st century. His mentorship went mainstream as we watched him and supermodel Heidi Klum for 16 seasons on BRAVO's Project Runway. Last year, this fashionable duo debuted Amazon Original's Making the Cut and its 2nd season premiers this month. We chatted with Tim about his career, the show and how we "make it work."

credit for their successes and I also don’t blame myself for things that go awry, but I do take great pleasure and honor in being a kindred spirit of sorts and kind of an angel on their soldier that’s there to tell them the truth, to be a cheerleader and to be a shoulder to cry on if necessary. It’s extremely satisfying for me and it’s a huge honor.

ATHLEISURE MAG: We have been such a fan of yours for years. Looking at the depth of your career and how you have helmed the careers of so many people in the fashion industry, did you ever think that you would be doing what you are doing now?

TG: Well, the concept of the show, the format is a concept that Heidi and Sara Rea, uber Executive Producer and I have had for a very long time. We had been forming it, we had been developing it – ow ing to the success of the other show that Heidi, Sara and I had did – Sara was the showrunner the last 10 seasons of Project Runway. We couldn’t do this, we couldn’t execute this vision. So when Heidi, Sara and I decided to leave, we shopped the show and our dream was to be with Amazon because of the creative flexibility that Amazon provides and the potential of the shoppability aspect. So we wanted first of all, to show a broader view of what the fashion industry is like rather than just showing the making of clothes.

TIM GUNN: Oh, never in a million years, never! This entire television phenomenon didn’t happen to me until after I turned 50. I had had a very satisfying career as an educator. I never dreamed that this would happen, it’s completely and totally surreal. I still pinch myself! AM: It’s absolutely amazing and it’s also great to see how you have been such a powerhouse in the industry by sharing your insights. How important is it to you to be able to be such a mentor to so many designers that you’ve dealt with directly as well as to those that you may not have known that you have? TG: I have to say that it’s a great honor and it’s a role that I take very very seriously. As a teacher for many many years, the greatest satisfaction for me was watching my students bearing witness to them having that kind of epiphany for what they can achieve, what they can do and having that “ah ha moment.” To be able to nurture that and to cultivate that and then to be able to actually see that happen, it’s just hugely satisfying and rewarding. I have the same thrill when I’m working with the Making the Cut designers. I don’t take any

AM: We enjoyed the inaugural season of Making the Cut last year. What initially drew you to the format of this show and what did you want viewers to take away from it?

We wanted to talk about branding because without that aspect, it’s just a pretty dress, who cares? For the viewers, we wanted them to be able to shop that look immediately as opposed to, “well you’ll get it in 6 months.” All of that came into fruition and it was rather miraculous! I still pinch myself when I think about it. We’re just savoring this experience. It’s been phenomenal. AM: It’s really great to hear that as my background was in Visual Merchandising as well as in Wholesale and I have worked corporate at a number of brands including Lacoste. What you shared is exactly what I love about this show - that perfect balance

between creating something beautiful, but also understanding the business behind it which is so important! TG: Yes! AM: How do you decide the cast that’s on the show? Last season there were those that I was familiar with and others that were new to me. What are you looking for in terms of that dynamic? TG: Well, we’re looking for people that have that vision, that have something to say visually, spiritually and practically! We’re looking for – in terms of the group of designers, we’re looking for diversity and points of view. We don’t want a sameness as that wouldn’t be very interesting for the viewers. We’re certainly looking for people who are hungry and really know that this is an amazing experience for them whether they win or they don’t - because of the exposure and because of the profound link of being a part of the Amazon family. At the same time Kimmie, I have to say that you don’t know, you’re throwing the dice. You don’t know how exactly people are going to perform on the show. You don’t know how they are going to respond to the intensity of the environment and the fact that there are no breaks, we just keep go-go-going. You don’t know and when things do go awry, you hope that you’re able to pick people up and help them along so that they can self-correct in some kind of way. It’s never a dull moment I’ll say that! AM: With the second season, what are you excited about as I’m sure it was challenging in terms of filming during a pandemic. Here at Athleisure Mag, we went to virtual photoshoots and found a different way to continue. So what are you excited about? TG: I’m just excited to get the show out and up and to get people watching it! I want to learn things from their feedback. As we know, Season 1, we traveled around the world. Season 2, we stayed put and

we were on a ranch in Malibu, California, but the venues that that ranch presented were all so incredibly different, it looks as though we had traveled. It’s hard to believe that we didn’t. We knew that we had to be very diligent and responsible in how we conducted ourselves during that very intense COVID period and we were successful I’m thrilled to say! But it took a lot of diligence and very responsible behavior. AM: We’re definitely looking forward to seeing you and Heidi as we love your dynamic together. What is it like working with her and having that synergy that you guys naturally seem to have together? TG: You know, working with Heidi, she’s like a safety valve for me. I relax when I see her, I know that everything is going to be ok, I know that we’re going to have a lot of fun and laugh a lot. She’s like my great antidote to everything that’s bad or unhappy in the world. She brings happiness, she brings light, she brings her incredible spirit – she’s a joy! I’m the luckiest guy in the world! AM: Tim, it’s been such an honor to be able to talk with you and to hear your insights. I know around Athleisure Mag, whenever there are a number of projects going on from a photoshoot, releasing an issue, organizing schedules etc, I do think about you saying, “make it work” and it just kind of begins to organize the priorities as we approach deadlines. TG: Absolutely, get that issue out and make it work! @TimGunn @MakingtheCutTV @AmazonFashion PHOTOS COURTESY | Amazon


CITROVIA AT MANHATTAN WEST Only in NY does scaffolding at Hudson Yards become an installation that is unticketed and open to the public with a whimsical lemon grove that is comprised of surreal sculptures, lighting displays and seating that you can enjoy with a group of friends and family or when you're solo!

it in a way that is pleasing. Evan Schechtman, founder of Cuttlefish Inc. and Warren Adcock, Creative Director of Midnight Theatre took on the task to transform the scaffolding to a 40ft tall lemon grove that was made by hand at Adirondack Studios in ustate NY. They are known for their work at attractions that you have enjoyed at Disney!

Citrovia is 30,000sqft with 700 plaster lemons, and there are steel and foam painted leaves. Here visitors can guarantee to have a sunny and rainless experience. It's made possible due to One Manhattan West, a 70 story skyscraper is not only completed but occupied. THe sister tower Two Manhattan West, is shorter and currently under construction with its completion slated for 2023. When it comes to scaffolding, you either have large monstrosities that tend to be an eyesore or you begin to think about doing

Their creation marries whimsical with functionality as people can enjoy interactive augmented reality games, a place to unwind, an urban playground and even educational elements with Little Lemons in the Big Apple which is a collaboration that brings Brookfield Properties and the Salvadori Center together. Guests can stroll the area and find

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themselves at Moynihan Train Hall, Whole Foods, 2 Danny Meyer concepts as well as having a place to gather and enjoy Instagrammable moments. It's worth noting that no two lemons looks alike and it's accessible to residents and visitors. It's a no-brainer that in the summer, this will be a great place for everyone to enjoy. With the fall and winter, we think this will be great for those that are looking to get a visual pick me up when they need to get a bit of "sun" and citrus relief.

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CITROVIA @ MANHATTAN WEST PLAZA 435 W 31st St NY, NY 10001 @citrovianyc @manhattanwestnyc PHOTOS COURTESY | Manhattan West

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PJ BERNSTEIN DELI Classic Jewish Delicatessen, PJ Bernstein Deli, opened in 1965 on the UES of NYC and is currently owned by The Slobodski Family since 1983. Current owner, Russian born Alex Slobodski was originally a cab driver who found refuge on his time off to enjoy the foods at this deli which reminded him of his home. He would also bring his family and when there was an opportunity by Mr. Bernstein for him to buy the restaurant as he was a loyal customer, he did so! He has continued the traditions of this eatery and alongside his son (Steve) and grandson (Eugene) they have expanded by incorporating a delivery service as well as providing outside seating.

kreplach, matzoh ball, fine noodles, and carrots) and of course there are a number of classic stales of a Jewish Deli: homemade soups, stuffed cabbage, chicken liver pate and home gefilte fish. There are also vegetarian and vegan options that are available as well. In addition to coming for favorite comfort foods and enjoying a filling bite, there are also popular dishes to enjoy as we continue to navigate the summer. The team at PJ Bernstein suggests that you enjoy some of their popular dishes right now includes cold summer borscht and a classic pastrami sandwich with a cold beer. It's also a great place to have a turkey or a corned beef sandwich.

Known for their whopping pastrami sandwhiches like "The Classic Reuben" to homemade soups like the "Triple Delight" (consommé with beef

In addition to being a neighborhood favorite, this deli has noted it's also

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been a go-to spot from Lucille Ball, Liza Minelli, and Mel Brooks and two James Bonds, Sean Connery and more recently, Daniel Craig. Their fans are also noted to have included David Copperfield, Marisa Tomei, Cuba Gooding Jr., former NYC Mayor Ed Koch as well as current New York Yankee Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

PJ BERNSTEIN DELI 1215 3rd Ave NY, NY 10021 @PJBernstein PHOTOS COURTESY | PJ Bernstein Deli

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Inspiration doesn’t just occur. It’s created. Perfection isn’t simply achieved. It’s worked for. Reserved for those who get out and go. Fueled by nature. Motivated by spirit. How do you go?

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Stay connected and follow us across our social channels on @AthleisureMag!

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CHEF Nyesha Arrington


Storytelling comes in many forms that take place with food as a medium. It especially resonates with us as you get to know something about the chef, share an experience with others and even learn about the culture that it is derived from. We took some time to talk with Chef Nyesha Arrington about her culinary journey as well as cheffing in a TV landscape. We were first introduced to her on BRAVO's Top Chef Season 9 Cheftestant and since then, she has appeared on a number of shows from Food Network's Tournament of Champions and Guy's Grocery Games to name a few. This fall on FOX, she will be on Next Level Chef alongside Gordon Ramsay and Gino D'Acampo as each of them mentors a recruited group of talented chefs. We talk about her culinary journey, the power of identity, her health journey and being her authentic self wherever she goes. ATHLEISURE MAG: When did you first fall in love with food? CHEF NYESHA ARRINGTON: Well, I honestly feel like being a chef and being in the food space is really something that was always part of my life journey and it was definitely written in the stars before I was born. It’s something that has always been a passion of mine and it’s not something that I had to learn how to love, it comes very naturally to me. Sharing, the idea of nurturing and celebrating people and artists and Mother Nature as a whole, is kind of what is my grounding force in terms of craft and career. AM: What was your culinary journey in terms of where you trained and kitchens that you worked in? CHEF NA: The first kitchen I worked in was a restaurant called Jiraffe which was in Santa Monica. I was an intern there for about a year and I was there while I was going to culinary school in 2001. From there, I went to another restaurant called Melisse a 2-star Michelin. I was there for a long time and after there, I went to a 3-star Michelin restaurant called The Man-

sion which was helmed by Joël Robuchon and he was the Chef of the Century and has the most Michelin stars. He’s a legend to say the least! I worked for him for a few years and then I moved to the Virgin Islands and I was there for a year and that’s when I had my first Executive Chef job which was an interesting experience to meet people that are not of your same background. It was a challenge and it really taught me a lot of leadership skills and how to motivate people that aren’t of the same background as you. From there, I moved to Hawaii and I was there for about a year in Maui. But that’s when Top Chef called and said, “hey Nyesha, you’ve been on our radar.” So, I did Top Chef and that’s what sparked my venture into TV land and cheffing. That was back in 2012 for Season 9. All the while, prior to that it was about laying down that foundation and groundwork to being a good chef and learning technique. It was about learning how to be a food person I guess you could say. I did Top Chef and I did a few other shows. One was on Food Network that aired shortly after that and that’s kind of the large brush stroke of the journey! AM: That journey is amazing. We’re huge fans of Top Chef and have had the pleasure in including their stories in our issues from Chef Brooke Williamson, Gail Simmons and Richard Blaise to name a few. What was it about that community as your Instagram shows how you are involved with so many people from there. What was it about the show that made you want to align your brand with what they have going on? CHEF NA: I think that at that time, I was seeing people in the food space that were on TV. I think that because I grew up in a sports background and I played soccer in high school soccer, I was playing softball in the very early stages of my life when I was 6 years old until I was 13. My dad was the coach of my softball team and I think that those early stages of my life, playing on a team, being part of a squad so to speak and for sure being competitive, really resonated with me in terms of life

and brain development. The idea that you can be on a team and win, that’s what drove me to do Top Chef because ultimately I can still hone my craft in this kind of aesthetic. I’ve slowly started to accept the fact that I am a competitive person and not so much against other people, but myself! I like to be a person that is a growth mindset person who loves to put out their best. It’s what drew me to it. I hadn’t actually watched the program – maybe an episode or two but there are some really die hard Top Chef fans out there. I wasn’t one of those people because I was living in real life and cooking in real life. Then I went on the show and did the competitions. It was awesome and a great experience and being part of the Top Chef community is amazing. It definitely helped launch my brand if you will. I remember, this is when I was at my first Executive Chef position at the time and people were coming to the restaurant. Sales were doubling and people recognized who I was as a character and they would come in and say, “you were such a class act, humble and gracious and fun to watch.” You know, it was super cool and an amazing experience to feel that. I had never been recognized before and it was really fun. AM: Shake Shack is an office favorite in our studio. Tell me about the collaboration that you had as well as your line of sauces that you are releasing separately from this eatery. CHEF NA: I did a collaboration with Shake Shack earlier this year with a sauce that I have called Aisoon Sauce. We do very limited editions of the sauce and it’s inspired by my grandmother and she’s a Korean ingredient and essentially, it’s a grilling sauce so you can use it on vegetables, meat, a soup base or a vinaigrette base. It’s an all purpose, all around Korean inspired sauce that was inspired by my grandma. AM: That’s really interesting and how does your background as an African American and Korean Chef inspire the foods that you

create? CHEF NA: You know, it’s interesting because I come from a French fine dining background in terms of the kitchens that I have worked in and is very influential in how I approach technique. So that’s an interesting way to look at cooking as a whole. It’s either driven by ingredients, where you source them and also technique. So, my background being African American-Korean, I grew up with a lot – let’s say from, 0-6, being influenced by my grandmothers food from the Korean side very traditionally and a lot of foreign flavors. That’s what I saw as that’s what she cooked and it was very traditional. Then, after she passed away, being influenced by the other side of my family was huge! My dad’s side is from Pass Christian, Mississippi, I’m a 3rd generation Angeleno – but on his side, there was a lot of Hot Water Cornbread and delicious Southern style cooking and those are the foods that I grew up eating. Life is a journey and it’s all about learning. Right before the pandemic, I did this dinner and it was the first time that I explored a menu that I felt was truly a form of self-expression. It was a very Afro-Korean inspired menu and that was super cool. My style is very global. I draw from an inspiration of Los Angelos being my terroir – I cook very seasonally and I try to cook what Mother Nature is celebrating at that time so right now it’s stone fruit, corn, chilis and eggplants which are things that are eating very well and I think that that’s important to be in this sort of idea of a circadian rhythm and our planet has a pulse and there’s a time when she’s giving us things based on a temperature and climate that is going on. That ethos is based in my cooking and I don’t know if that is even being rooted in my race. I think it’s about celebrating the human race and that’s what drives my cooking which is so very unconventional because what you see is chefs that are Mexican are making Mexican food and those from China are making Chinese food and that’s not how I am approaching food and it’s so

interesting and something that I have a lot of conversations with internally because the idea of identity and how the world sees you and how you receive and perceive the world! Anyone can be their own individual and it’s like for me, my inspiration in cooking is that it transcends the idea of ethnicity and it’s really about human connection and that is my favorite ingredient and that’s what draws and drives my passion for connectivity. Food happens to be that media for me and food is that form of self-expression. It’s also a form of nurturing and for me that’s what drives me and that it is an art. It’s not art on the wall but it is a craft and it can be applied to anything. The idea of something being someone’s craft, it’s a lifelong journey of discovery. I love to share that with people and my food from that lens. I know it’s long winded, but I wanted to be able to articulate that. AM: I like this answer. As a Black Co-Founder of this magazine and as a fashion stylist, when you’re talking about fashion, I don’t style from a Black background, I have a luxury meets high/low meets Boho aesthetic which is also vibing off of the person and the project that I am working on. I love if you have a pair of sneakers and pair it with an exotic top and making this visual texture experience. That’s not me necessarily being Black, it’s just me loving what I love and mixing it together to tell that particular story. You’re probably the first person that I have spoken with that in talking about how they approach their food, it’s not based on the background that you’re perceived to come from per se. I love that food storytelling much like in style which has visual texture and storytelling can have those same roots and thought processes. People do need to understand that the experience you are giving others doesn’t always have to come from a prescribed place of an actual experience that you have grown up in and that one can assume that your dishes are going to be collard greens and ham when you want to share another experience entirely.

CHEF NA: I’m telling you man! It’s so nice to have this open and honest conversation about this. I have to tell you that it has been a real reckoning of learning how to explain that because that is how I feel and I have to assume that not everyone knows where I am coming from and so I have to say the words and to hear from yourself as a POC to explain that theory behind art and the vibe – that is the true art of the craft. The whole collard greens and things like that, the thing is that’s such an interesting dialogue because I don’t think that I’m doing a disservice by not cooking the ancestral food, I’m Black everyday – you know? It’s about the lens of an artist! It’s also, I’m a woman so those two things, I have to be frank because when people ask me in interviews all the time – “what’s it like to be a woman in the kitchen, tell me about your Korean background,” – that specifically because in 2008, that’s when my first PR piece came out for me as a brand and as a chef. They talked so much and it stuck in the media and I’ve been seeing it for the last 17 years that the conversation is, “Nyesha Arrington Korean and Black,” and I’m like, ok yeah but I don’t know. It’s interesting to see what sticks and now after all of these talks about inclusion and I’m like, “wow, what’s really going on?” I’m an artist at the core of my being and that comes from my father who is my best friend. He is the best human that I know who happens to be my dad. He’s just an amazing person who has such a universal perspective about life, well read person, he puts himself in other people’s shoes all the time and he would give an ant a piece of food. The guy is an angel and I’m just so grateful for him and I just try to make my family proud with my cooking and things. So this whole Next Level Chef, it’s going to be a huge pillar in my life and I think it just puts a different outlook on cooking, sharing that in the media space and it’s going to be so powerful you know? AM: I have to say that your scope on identity is a conversation that everyone needs to have with themselves and others especially when it comes to those that have management and people so that they can

understand how you want to be presented and they’re in step with your vibe. Because if it can’t be articulated to them and they can’t embrace that this is who you are, what it means, etc it’s tough because you will continue to see that disconnect from them and those that reach out to you as the message isn’t being properly placed. CHEF NA: It’s becoming – AM: A fight. CHEF NA: Yeah man and I’m just leaning into it. I think before, I didn’t know and as life happens, you just collect the data and as humans that is who we are. We are literal expressions of what is happening to us. Our duty is to celebrate the past, have the life experience and then carry that into the future because at the end of the day, we’re all storytellers – what else do we have? We’re telling stories and we’re trying to continue and share that. It’s interesting with the integration of tech – it’s fascinating! AM: For sure! From what we've have been reading, your show Next Level Chef is an interesting concept and has a range of dynamics that make it unique in the food genre. Tell us more about this! CHEF NA: Basically, probably 6 months ago, I went to guest chef on Gordon’s MasterChef. I went in and I did a dish and this dish which is so ironic because Gordon worked for Joël Robuchon. I did too. I made the classic Robuchon potato and he was – I can’t even tell you. He was standing off to my right and I was cooking and doing the potato and demoing it for the 4 cooks in front of me. The task was for them to recreate it. As I’m doing it, I can feel Gordon’s energy emanating off of him and vibes are real. What words couldn’t tell me, he pictured himself in me on the line and that was the energy that I was receiving and it fed me and I was like, wow this is so cool! Someone who worked for the same chef as me, who’s doing the TV

life and is the #1 chef monetarily. As a 17 year old girl on the line, I found this very early on when I was at a 2-star Michelin restaurant and it’s challenging to say the least. I remember saying to myself, “Nyesha, you need to push and work your ass off to eventually get out from behind the stove.” Because, I saw very quickly that if you don’t create options for yourself for growth, you get stuck and I never wanted to be that. I always had a big dream. I say that because when I did some research, Gordon Ramsay was always one of those people that’s doing it right and scaling properly in terms of brand building and all the things. In that moment when I was cooking the dish, it was just so cool to see a set and by that time, I had been on many sets – but to see a set driven by a chef was just a whole new world. It’s not a random producer who’s like painting this dream for the crew to recreate. It’s a kitchen and it felt like I was on a real kitchen again. I did the dish, was on the show, left the set and Gordon basically came running out and was like, ”hey, who are you?” and shook my hand. My heart was pounding and he hugged me and tears just fell out of my eyes. It was a beautiful moment because I felt safe and I knew that this guy sees me. We shared that moment, his assistant was there and he was like reach out to her and they actually did! So how it came about was the Executive Producer who was there that day, we started talking and he asked me what a show would look like for me. It’s just like what I said to you, celebrating people, storytelling and I’m saying this more and more and leaning into it – I am not a conventional chef and I shouldn’t try to shove my circle into a square peg, let me be a circle and that’s ok! It’s pretty cool and empowering. They saw my authentic self and they asked what spoke to me and I said, the idea of mentorship, coloring outside of the lines – knowing the rules for sure, but being an artist. We had a few chats and then he reached out and said, we have a show called Next Level Chef, he gave me the premise and let me know that it would

work well for me as it would be mentor based. I would have a small team of 5 and Gordon would have a team of 5 and we would mentor these chefs to win $250,000 – life changing! I am so freaking excited to say the least! I am so stoked and I can truly make an impact on people with just sharing. We’re looking for a 3rd judge and it’s going to be so cool. AM: Before we let you go, in prepping for this interview, when looking at your IG, which is a great way to get some insights, we know that fitness is important to you. We noticed that you have worked out with Lacey Stone and we have featured her a few times here at Athleisure Mag and we love her vibes! She just has an authenticity and when I talked with her in person, I connected with her in so many ways and found myself just opening up and being vulnerable with her. She truly cares about her craft and just has a love for people. CHEF NA: Um you freaking should be, I just had dinner with her a couple of days ago and it was the first time that we had actually hung out without working out. I have to be honest. She really changed my life and I want to pay her mad respect right now. In 2019, I joined her squad camp. Girl, this is real facts right now and it was a real epiphany for me. I was surrounded by strong, badass, kind, vulnerable, authentic humans and it literally changed my life and the idea of strength. Strength shouldn’t only be associated with masculinity and I had never been led by a strong female. The way she conducted her program, her professionalism, her classes, she’s a very present human – it changed my freaking life. I had only been led by European males so I think that in the background, I had only associated strength and ego from that perspective because how else is a European male supposed to lead me other than by what they know, you know? It’s toxic actually because there is a lot of that in my field. So to be lead by that and quite frankly, I have lead like that early on because that is what I was taught. So it has been a process of unlearning.

So when I went to her bootcamp girl, it changed my life! I was the most fit – that was pre-pandemic and now I’m the strongest that I have been in my whole life. I did her class yes and I started out with her 2019 and I lost 22lbs and gained a ton of muscle and it really kickstarted my healthy lifestyle. She’s doing these outdoor workouts on this cool tennis court and she was like, “girl, you’re strong AF and I want to come out and workout with you now!” So, she’s going to come out to my gym which I am going to mention in my ROUTIN3S because it is my favorite! @NyeshaJoyce PHOTOS COURTESY | Nyesha Arrington

When we connect with a master chef, they take us on a journey exploring their voice through food. Chef Eric Adjepong was a finalist on Season 16 of BRAVO's Top Chef and competed the following season on Top Chef: All Stars LA. He brought West African cuisine and its stories to the dishes he created and ultimately to millions of eyes. He has continued to serve as a judge or guest host/judge on a number of programs including Top Chef: Amateurs and Food Network's Battle of the Brothers (Bryan and Michael Voltaggio) on Discovery+. His passion for his Ghanian American heritage has led him to participate in a restaurant concept in Ghana as well as launching flavorful food in his newest project with AYO Foods. We delved into his culinary point of view, his background and how important it is to share it with others. ATHLEISURE MAG: We have enjoyed seeing you on Top Chef as well as a number of other programs. When did you first fall in love with food and when did you realize that you wanted to be a chef? CHEF ERIC ADJEPONG: It started at a very young age for me around 6 or 7. I was enamored by chefs on cooking shows growing up – Julia Child, Yan Can Cook and I thought it was super, super cool to use fire and to create food. Watching my aunts, uncles and mom especially making food and just seeing that super power and I still think it’s a super power watching them cook to make a meal, which makes everyone stop what they’re doing and come to the dinner table. I have always admired that. I think that’s when it started for me and I’m lucky enough to have parents that fostered that. AM: Before we delve into some of the projects that you’re involved in, we find it interesting that you have a Masters in Nutrition and you have cited that Chef José Andrés inspired you to do that. What was it that he was doing that lead you on that path? CHEF EA: Definitely, I went back to study for my Masters in 2012 and a lot of that

was spawned by the work that Chef José was doing with World Central Kitchen which was right around that period of time. It was fascinating honestly. I had my Bachelors in Culinary Nutrition so I had already gotten into it. Knowing better and doing better with my food and to be able to go full circle with what I started with, I wanted to be able to present myself as a one stop go-to kind of shop so to speak for food, anything regarding nutrition and culinary. I went to England and studied for about a year or so and it was a lot of fun and an awesome experience. I got to go to Ghana and I got a huge understanding of a global climate – what people are eating, how they are interacting with one another and that was an awesome experience for me. I think that a lot of that experience, the ideas, thoughts, inspirations and what I learned there has influenced me today. AM: Can you share your culinary journey? CHEF EA: I’m born and raised in NYC. My family came from Ghana in Kumasi. I was the first person born in the US from my family and I think that that gives me a unique perspective from the food that I cook and everything that I kind of do, it’s woven into me not just the food, but the culture, the way that I greet my parents, greet the elders, the way that I dress – it’s just all West Africa. It just so happens that I fell in love with cooking and have been able to bring to the forefront the food of the diaspora in a way that I think is unique to me, but also super authentic to the flavors to the places that I get my inspiration from. AM: It was great seeing you on Season 16 of Top Chef as a finalist and then coming back for the next season for All-Stars in LA. What drew you to want to be part of that community which has such a dynamic platform to be involved in. How did you connect into it and you continue to be involved as I know you’re Top Chef Amateurs as well. CHEF EA: I think it was just my admiration


for the franchise even before I got in on my season. I was just a huge fan of the show period. I remember watching in culinary school and was just enamored by the talent and different characters coming out. I knew that if I was ever lucky enough to get on, I wanted to be able to celebrate West African culture as much as possible. I don’t know how it happened to be honest, it was kind of a blur, I was telling my now wife about it when we went out on a date. She helped me to apply which was cool. I did a tasting for them which was awesome and I was expecting a call months later or something like that. They called relatively quickly in a day or so and that just got the ball rolling. It’s an awesome fraternity and network that I love being a part of and not only in my season, but I can reach back to seasons past and it’s the same for those in the future. Even for the chefs that were in their season from Portland, you’ll have those folks reach out that want to do something like a collaborative dinner or to ask a piece of advice – how you handle certain things when it’s their time to be on the show. It’s a pretty huge community and I think it’s pretty cool to have Gail, Tom and Padma close by and you can reach out to them. They’re also ultra supportive as well to all of the chefs. They do a great job on the franchise to support all of us. AM: From the Portland season, it was great to see one of the episodes focusing on West African foods. Thinking back to your season specifically, it was the first time that we remember seeing this brought forward. You really introduced us to a number of foods that we hadn’t been aware of and now are things that we have been able to eat by you presenting it in your dishes every week. Why was that so important to you to be able to include that in your repertoire of dishes that you were making? CHEF EA: I knew going in that when I got the green light and I knew I was going to be casted, I had studied Modern American, Modern Italian, French and I knew that I could have gone that route. I think that if I had stayed on that line of thinking,

that I could have been weeded out and I wanted to present something that was 1. very second nature to me and 2. that I hadn’t see on the franchise as I was such a fan. In 15 seasons, I hadn’t seen anybody cooking food from the continent of Africa really in a forceful way. So I figured, why not me, why not now – it was a great opportunity and I hit the ground running. I served a Raw bay scallop with Ghanian shito honey glaze, pickled shallots and celery garnish and it was super spicy and flavorful. They had no idea what was going on in their palette but they kept asking me to just keep cooking and I found myself in the finale cooking the same food, telling the same stories and I thought, I could really win off of doing this. I didn’t but I think in the long run, it boosted the profile of not only myself, but for the food of the diaspora. AM: Absolutely and for those that are not familiar, what are the spices and foods that are indicative of West African foods? CHEF EA: It’s a lot of warm spices and dry spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, star anise which is used quite often. Rosemary and thyme are huge and really we celebrate flavors and a lot of what is naturally grown in the area and in the region. So peppers, they come from literally everywhere and we use them in a variety of ways. Ginger, habanero, garlic, peanuts, plantains are huge. A lot of dried and fermented fish which we use essentially to what’s readily available. The sun is a great preservative and something that we can use to preserve and ferment and we do that often. It’s a great way to bring out strong and unique flavors in our food. I would say that that is pretty much the calling card and you will see that throughout the diaspora and the Caribbean with the use of cassava and plantains in South Africa, the use of corn and hominy here in the American South with jambalaya and gumbo which means okra – all of these little dishes which go back to the African diaspora in West Africa. AM: Those are great points when you’re

looking at the impact diaspora from a culinary standpoint. We were going to ask you how that affected the foods of the regions. CHEF EA: Massively. One of the dishes that we’re presenting with AYO is Waakya and it’s a classic rice and beans dish. I call it the OG of the Peas and Rice dish because you will see this variation all throughout the diaspora because you’ll see it in Jamaica, parts of the Caribbean islands, a pretty popular rice and beans dish pretty much everywhere in South Africa and you’ll see it in Haiti. I’m really excited to talk about that and it’s really about the ingredients that we use. The peanuts, the plantains, the cassava and using those in really unique ways. You have to think that when people were being enslaved, they tried to grab what they could and to work with what they had. They braided rice in their hair and took what they could to the New World. They made use of what they had and whatever they couldn’t find or weren’t used to they adapted to what was readily available to them in the new land. You’ll see different variations of a very similar dish with a slight ingredient change and that happens all throughout the Caribbean as well. We use the scotch bonnets, it’s heavy and I think those traces are something that I like to be able to do and to celebrate as much as I can. AM: How did the partnership between you and AYO Foods come about and what made you decide to introduce the two that will be coming out? CHEF AE: Pretty organically funny enough. The founders Perteet and Fred Spencer of AYO Foods had reached out and they saw everything that I had been doing and very seamlessly, it was like an easy puzzle. They were pretty much preaching the same gospel that I have been doing if that makes sense and they have been pushing this food forward to get it into the grocer’s frozen and hot sauce aisles. I’m doing nutrition and a bit of fine dining. So the synergy was there and then making it work was something that we had to figure out, but I’m happy that we did be-

cause not only is the food really good and delicious but the branding is vibrant just as West Africa is. They have done a phenomenal job from beginning to end and I’m happy with the Chicken Yassa dish that we have which is beautifully braised chicken thighs and a rich roasted garlic and ginger sauce, a lot of onions, lemon juice and mustard and it’s cooked down to a beautiful jam with this jasmine rice. Waakye is the rice and peas dish. We have a red rice cooked like a sorghum millet leaves so it leaves this beautiful earthy note with a nice magenta color and we add a little coconut oil, roasted garlic and we season that and serve it with a really delicious sauce. It’s super traditional in terms of how the food is presented and is served, but as far as how it is shown, when you look at the box it’s so eye catching and catches the vibrancy of the plate – I really love what they did with it. AM: Do you foresee that you will do additional dishes with them? Do you have a list of foods that you would like to add in down the road? CHEF AE: I would actually! We’ve been able to kick things off without a hitch and have already started talking about collaborating on another dish or two or a sauce. For now, we’re focused on the Waakye and the Yassa and bringing these two dishes out as hard as I can. We both have a really strong effort to do that and I think that when people catch onto that wave, then we’ll definitely open the floodgates with a lot of dishes. AM: In support of these 2 dishes what will you do in terms of driving awareness? Will you be doing IG Live or things of that nature? CHEF EA: Yeah, anything that we can do to generate this like an IG Live, Zooms as those are things that people are normally doing to kind of break up the monotony with food and food stories. Doing demos, I’m totally down. They’ve been awesome and we’ve been able to do culinary classes as well with the folks at AYO which has

been a lot of fun. If we can continue to do that in different ways to begin talking about this food, then it would be awesome. I’m always excited to do virtual classes as I do them anyway so doing it with AYO, I think that that’s really great. AM: True, you’re already on that front doing your virtual classes. The fact that you and your wife are doing them together, it's great to see power coupleship! CHEF EA: It’s been great and thank you for noticing! She’s been great and it’s been awesome and there is a lot of pivoting that had to happen as I’m sure that people are recognizing from last year. Being able to do these virtual classes and my wife being around helping out as much as she can has been awesome. It’s a great way to keep things different and being inside for the past year! AM: It’s been a long 18 months!

CHEF EA: It has been yeah! AM: You have 2 books coming out which is insane! Are you working on them now? CHEF EA: You’re right it’s insane and I’m in the process of doing both of them and am writing them. It was a really smart idea when it was presented to me, but I’m feeling it now and it’s a lot of work. I’m glad I’m doing it this way so that I can get it out and it helps because I can piggy back off of one book to the next one. So the children’s book is somewhat feeding off the adult cookbook. So there are little gems in there and Easter eggs that you will see throughout. It tells the fictional story of a young kid in the inner city who is dealing with identity and food very much so like me growing up. So, I’m excited to share that story. For the adult cookbook, the contemporary one, there will be a huge spotlight on the traditional Ghanian and West African dishes and inspirations from modern times to the places that I have

traveled to and what I have learned in between! I’m excited to present both books which will be out next year in Oct and I’m working on them now! For anybody that is writing a book, it’s quite a process so it won’t be out until next year, but I am in the thick of it right now!

I went to Ghana and I was there for about 8 weeks from start to finish. We opened up, and did the training. I’m definitely open to extending my reach as much as I can not only to cooking in the continent of Africa but also to anywhere that is open to good food.

AM: Do you have additional projects going on that you’re able to share as you're juggling quite a few.

AM: What do you want your legacy to be in terms of the impact that you created?

CHEF EA: Yeah maybe I should slow down ha! But I am working with great organizations and great brands just like AYO and I’m really thankful for that. I have a little bit more TV in the future with Top Chef: Amateurs, the Discovery Network which I’m really proud of and the cookbooks. I’m taking a lot of time as a father and a husband is a title which is its own time and world as well. Hopefully when things kind of settle, I can get back into restaurant mode. I helped open up a restaurant in Ghana last year which was an amazing experience. It’s been a busy few 18 months as you mentioned, but I like to stay busy and I’m really blessed to be in this position to do what I’m doing as I definitely dreamed about this. I want to take full advantage of this as much as I can. AM: Why did you want to be involved in opening a restaurant concept in Ghana? CHEF EA: Yeah definitely, a good friend of mine, who runs a hospitality business that is running the restaurant, East End Bistro in Accra the capital of Ghana in the Cantonments area, he and his partner have run a really successful bar called Bloom Bar. It’s probably one of the most successful bars in all of West Africa, they have expanded and they were looking to hop into the restaurant space. We had a relationship from the Bronx and he moved outand went to Ghana and started his dream with his hospitality venture. It was the perfect moment, I was available because I was not opening up a space here, so I left.

CHEF EA: Wow, I’ve never been asked that. I think it’s reputation, being a good person is #1 and something that I should always strive to be regardless of my profession or what I do in my life. I want to make people feel good and decent. That is my personal legacy. I think that career wise, I just want to be a better chef every single day, every single year. I know that that sounds cliché but the better that I am, the better that I can be of service to people around me. Honing my skills and being the best chef that I can be, I will allow as an artist as it’s not up to me. It’s up to the masses to settle in on how impactful I have been when I pass or move on is. Hopefully the cookbooks aid into a little of that legacy so to speak where I can have something that will be longstanding and will be around a lot longer then I will be physically. Kind of honing in and being better, will make me a happy person. AM: How do you do take time for yourself? CHEF EA: I am probably watching basketball when the season is on. I love watching basketball, sports, going to the gym and listening to music. Listening to music in the dark which I know sounds odd, is so peaceful to me. Listening to an album or two with dimmed lights. If I'm reading or working on something, I'm just jotting it down so that I can see. But I like some good music and some low lights which is probably the best way for me to wind down! @ChefEricAdjepong PHOTOS COURTESY | Chef Eric Adjepong

This month, the anticipated release of STARZ's Power Book III: Raising Kanan premieres. Before it has even aired, it has already been greenlit for a 2nd season with the cast currently filming. We caught up with London Brown, who plays Marvin Thomas, Kanan's nephew to talk about the new series that takes place in South Jamaica Queens in 1991. We talk about his career from Fuse's The Hustle, his breakout role in HBO's Ballers and how he has evolved as an entertainer. We also talk about how important it is for him to stay grounded as he navigates the industry and his focus on giving back in the ways that he can. ATHLEISURE MAG: When did you realize that you wanted to be an entertainer? You cover a number of areas as you’re an actor, dancer and a comedian. LONDON BROWN: I think it’s just a thing that I remember early on always being into the arts. I felt that the arts came very naturally. Between the arts feeling like they were already part of my proclivity, I enjoyed them as well fortunately. A lot of times, people are gifted and are good at what they do, but they’re not necessarily drawn to them. I was always very passionate about the arts in general. I just remember that it started when I did Easter plays and that sort of thing. So I did it and at school I realized that they had more plays there, so I did those and played the Scarecrow and in Black communities where you grow up in religious households, you go to church – so you’re playing an instrument, you’re singing – you’re doing something on that level. So all these things were just kind of normal and it transmitted to school and so throughout high school, I was involved in bands, was in plays and that’s when I started to take it seriously. I had a theater teacher that saw more in me than I did and encouraged me to take it more seriously. From there, I went away to school and one of my friends encouraged me to dance. He was a choreographer with a dance team and he said, "you you should join the dance team." I told him, "nah, I'm

not going to do that.” He then told me that I should do it because he was gay, the rest of the team were all girls and since I was straight, that that would be a great match. So I did and I danced, I kept doing it and I taught dance which allowed me to pay the bills all while I became a teacher where I taught high schoolers theory of acting. While this was going on, I took some auditions to get into the groove of my art. It’s funny because while I was teaching for the high school, a fellow teacher told me about a comedy show that the school was putting on and I asked about it and they suggested that I should sign up to be part of it. I realized that the same energy of the instant gratification that we get from doing live theater, I can also get it from doing standup as it’s just a one man show. Doing standup, I finally felt that I had a voice. I do a lot of different things, but I also feel that with all of the things that I do, God gave them to me because he knew that I would also give them away. So teaching, I inspired a lot of other young people to do whatever they do now. I was doing standup for about 2 years and I ended up connecting with Chris Tucker and we hit it off. I started touring with him as his opening act for a few years. Somewhere in there, I land my first TV show, The Hustle. That was 2013, it was a small network, but the creator was also the showrunner for Insecure, so Prentice Penny saw a bunch of young actors and said, “hey I want you guys to do this,” gave us a call and we auditioned and he took chances on us. In Hollywood, they want familiar faces so the fact that he took a shot on me, I did a season of The Hustle, Chris had stopped touring and with no TV show, I no longer had an agent or a manager. So now, I am agentless and I get a call from a friend of mine who asked if I had auditioned from Ballers. I let him know that I had heard about it, but at the time, I was a choreographer just trying to pay bills. He said he would pass my information along. I go in, this is during 2014 and I audition for Ballers and they said they


liked me. Initially the character was only supposed to do 1 or 2 episodes. After the audition that I did, they wanted to make me a lead on the show and keep me all 5 seasons. I moved to Miami, filmed and then finished the other half of the season in LA, so after that, the series ends in 2019 and Dwayne pulls the plug as I think that he was just busy because it was still #1! AM: For sure, we loved watching it every week and although your character generated a lot of reactions and people didn’t like him. But we enjoyed your character. The growth that you did as the character, it’s interesting to see someone who was in a situation where he was trying to protect his friend, try to do what’s right, but you’re in an industry that you really have to learn quickly and to see the progression of the character season by season. We weren’t familiar with your work previous to that show, but when you have a knee jerk reaction to a character, they’re acting their ass off to make you feel that way. It’s not easy to come off that unlikeable. LB: Right? For me, that’s why it was so important because on paper, the character wasn’t going to be around as that wasn’t the plan initially. He was supposed to be character A, Reggie the best friend. I knew that I really needed to be able to establish my presence 1, a lot of the guys that were on there had established resumes and had been in the industry a long time. I knew the opportunity and the weight that that project was going to have. It had the #1 entertainer with Dwayne Johnson and also it’s HBO, a very credible network. For me, I was going to exhaust whatever energy from whatever scene to make sure that I wasn’t doing too much but I was standing out on some kind of level. And 2, I became the antagonist by accident because we’d be on set and I was improvising a lot because they didn’t have any lines for me because I wasn’t supposed to be around. They said, “ok, let’s let him go and let’s see what we come up with.” So I was giving them stuff and then we kind of found this voice of Reggie as far as making him the fly around the food. So once I

tapped into that, I knew I could amp it up wherever they allow me to go. At the same time, as an actor, in the development of making a character 3 dimensional, in season 1 and part of season 2, he was the annoying guy. But we wanted to take him to such a place that by season 5, he’s more responsible and he’s trying to get it together so that he’s really advising Vernon in positive ways. I wanted to make sure that I kept the character interesting and not just fall and be a character like Best Friend #1. Now, we find out on Instagram that the show is over so I’m like, ok. I’m not worried because from a spiritual place, I don’t even put all my energy into man anyway. So, I feel that I will be fine. I’m working clubs, on the road and touring. So now it’s the fall of 2019 and I get a call from Robi Reed who does all the casting for Spike Lee’s projects and is really great. She calls and asks if I can do American Soul to play Bootsy Collins. I get down there and I learn the guitar and whatever I have to do for the part. I then do a horror film in Canada so I’m doing these 2 projects and my manager says that there is a young agent who is familiar with my work and wants to work with me. I tell him it's cool and he says that he likes what I do and asks me to read the sides, which are pieces of the script. On the sides I see Power at the top. I think to myself that this can’t be the real Power because I had seen billboards all over Times Square that they are on the final season. So I thought that it was a mock because sometimes, they put a fake title on there. So I went in, I read the part and felt that it flowed well and that whoever was writing it had good language and it’s how I would talk so I thought it was cool. I sent the tape in, I didn’t hear anything and after the Christmas break, the new agent that I’m building with because we are just feeling each other out, I visit the people at the office and they let me know that I have a call back. I do 6 or 7 takes and then I go in and long story short, the agent said that they liked me and wanted

to offer me the part. So I agreed and I’m still unaware that it’s Power and then I hear that it’s Raising Kanan. Mind you, I had never watched anything from Power at all. When I would run into fans on the street, they would say, “hey man, my favorite show is Ballers, Game of Thrones and Power.” So I wanted to be part of Power, but I was grateful for what I did have. I wanted to do Power so badly that I didn’t even want to watch it because I was already committed in my current project at the time. So when they said, Raising Kanan, I was confused, but I knew it was a show and it took place in the 90’s. I get on set and I start to connect the dots. People are telling me that this is the backstory of Kanan and I knew that 50 Cent had done something with Kanan because the streets were talking. It wasn’t until I really got into filming the shoot that I realized that this was a spinoff – Power Book III: Raising Kanan! We’re an official spinoff because we’re the prequel. The other ones continue the story. So when I found out it's 1991, this character is not like Reggie – he’s Reggie on steroids and he just goes there. He’s short tempered, but he loves and is loyal to his family. There’s a leadership power struggle between him and his siblings because his younger sister is running the whole family operation. She’s showing love to the younger brother because he’s really cool, calm and collected. So my character feels a certain type of way about that. My daughter and I have a strange and strained relationship because my character had done some time and she got a whole other life. So the only person that my character is able to flex some leadership on is my nephew Kanan (editor’s note: in Power, the flagship series Kanan is played by 50 Cent). So I’m the guy who introduced my nephew to this nefarious lifestyle that he begins. So, I’m like the muscle of the crew. My sister gives the orders, I carry them out and sometimes I go beyond what she asks for and that causes some animosity between us but in the end, it’s the loyalty that keeps us very connected to each other.

So, that answers your question and gives you the spill on how this all came out! AM: You took us on a great journey! The way you presented your story makes me think about something I tell people all the time. When you’re building your brand and taking opportunities that are based on your interests or become available, you never know the people that you come into contact with and the projects that come your way. It’s the sliding doors that you enter and exist that allows you to build your career and sometimes it’s completely unplanned but each link adds another to get to your end result. LB: You’re right. I know that for a lot of people, when they first saw me, it was from Ballers. But people didn’t know that there were a lot of foundational things that took place when I was doing theater that helped me to have a presence when I was playing across to Dwayne. That’s one side and the other is, if you can’t be the hero, the antagonist is the next best thing. It all just lined up! Even for people who didn’t know me, the fact that all my scenes in season 1 were with Dwayne, it pushed me into a space that I couldn’t have been more grateful for. My first TV show allowed me to transition from theater and to learn how to play everything inside of a small frame. Ballers helped me to establish my onscreen presence. So by the time I got to Power Book III: Raising Kanan, I have more of a handle on what’s going on and how to play to it. I think that people will really connect with the project and my character Marvin – especially my friends because I do more cursing and drinking on TV then I do in real life! He’s charming but he is intense. My friends who know me, they find it funny that I’m playing Marvin because I’m cursing and rude and I’m so not these guys. But that’s why I enjoy playing them so much because I’m so the other way. I’m chill and very easy going. With Reggie, he didn’t care and he was loud. This character is shooting, fighting and doing all kinds of stuff. So I think people will con-

nect with it very much so! AM: Power Book III: Raising Kanan released earlier this month. When you got this role, what did you do to prep for it? It takes place in the 90’s. How did you get into the vibe and feel for this series? LB: For me, I’ve always been a champion for the 90’s from the sitcom, the clothes and the music. I love the 90’s. It’s already part of my regular life so what I did in terms of preparation, I listened to a lot of Nas and 90’s hip-hop to understand the language. We had a dialect coach on set to just keep us where we needed to be in terms of the accent and dialect. I just tried to stay very present. My home is still LA, but for filming we all relocated and I’m actually here now in NY because we got a pick up for the next season already! AM: Which is awesome because you were confirmed for a 2nd season just days before the premier dropped! LB: I know and it’s such a blessing! I think that maybe the producers saw what they needed to see and they know it’s rich. I’m not even mentioning me, these guys performances are just strong. Mekai Curtis who plays Kenan is very connected. Our lead actress, Patina Miller (plays Raquel Thomas) she just gives it up - she won a TONY coming from theater. So a few of us have come from theater so already between that and when we came together, we didn’t have any egos. Sometimes in auditions, you meet each other and have chemistry tests and you vibe and they put people together and pair you up to see. We didn’t have any time for that. They booked us, we flew out to NY, we had a photoshoot and the first day was like a family scene. If we were playing like we were in high school on the first day of class, we could play with the awkwardness of real life on screen. But we’re playing a family that’s a tight unit. So we can’t be with the weird stuff. Everyone needs to be present and professional. Anything outside of that has to be left at the door because it can affect the chemistry. For-

tunately, day 1, everyone was just cool and supportive of each other. The offscreen energy read very well for what we did onscreen. The whole thing should come together well. The costumes definitely helped us. The hairdos – I’m in a high top. I spoke to the costumer just yesterday for the fitting and he felt that my character was one of the ones which helped to sell the era. They put me in some Dapper Dan. I mean the budget to make it come to life – even renting the cars so that every car all the way down the block and in the view of the camera was taken back to ’91. They really got all of the aesthetics down for it. I just hope people enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. AM: How was it working with 50 and Courtney Kemp? LB: After all the shenanigans that people feel 50 does, they have to understand that the dude is a very smart tactile guy! At the end of the day, 50 is very charming, but he is onto something. I had the chance to talk to him a few times and he really believes in the project, he’s really invested into it and Courtney’s energy and her last say so’s of things with her vision and I think that they both work well with guiding the ship in the right direction. We had a great lead writer, Sascha Penn, she wrote the hell out of the script. All of them were very open if we didn’t understand something or we felt that the character wouldn’t do this or that, it wasn’t about doing it like the way they said, it was very collaborative. They would ask, what do you think and I’d say that I didn’t think Marvin would do it this way, but we could play with it this way. Even with the hair or other items – everyone was really cool. I think again, all the way around the set because we didn’t have egos or dictatorship energy, it allowed people to give their opinions even if we didn’t agree. They were still open to hearing and we found a medium place. That I think is what helped this project all the way around.

AM: Do you find as an actor, that it’s difficult to prepare for a character when it’s a series versus a movie? Then when you’re looking at a series, is it difficult as you go in and out of that character when you’re picking it up to get back into the character when it takes place over multiple seasons? Is that hard for you to separate yourself from that character? LB: For me, I always separate it from the emotional stuff. I just stayed in the dialect. I didn’t want to be back and forth. So the whole time I was filming, I stayed with the dialect. So now, I have to get back into it because we’re about to film again and I have been in and out of it today. But when I’m filming I stay that way throughout the filming and even off set. The emotional stuff, I leave at work so that I can live, breathe and process because my character is doing all kinds of stuff so I don’t need to bring any of that at home! When I come out of the costume, jump into my sweats and get dropped off, I’m back to that. Also, we were in the pandemic. I'm glad at the time, there was no real social stuff going on. For me, my routine was hitting the gym everyday, I’m a sneakers guy and I’m living in Harlem so I passed by 8-10 sneaker shops and walk in everyday and if I saw something new, I'd grab those and get some groceries. Then, I’d be home to study. I had a very simple vibe of things that I did. I just locked in and tapped in. We were in the middle of winter. I’m from LA and I realized that I was the only one that gave a damn about the snow. Everybody else was indoors and I’m the only one that was outside glad to be in the street and walking to the gym in the snowstorm. But that’s how simple I am – I just enjoyed it. I was grateful to work and grateful to see the snow. I do photography so I went out and would shoot. In my mind, going back to what you said about one path leading to another path and so forth, I’ve always wanted to live in NY but I didn’t want to uproot and to leave LA. So just like this is setup is exactly how I wanted it to be. My things are in LA but I can be here for a period of time but I can still go back home. This is just like how I would have wanted it

to happen even though I didn’t ask for this. That’s how I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. That’s why I encourage people to go out there for what they want to do. There are things on your list that you’re unaware of that automatically come with what they do. I have friends who say that they love to travel, getting free stuff and clothes and I’m like, “do the things that you’re supposed to do and the other things will come.” My core goal is to be an actor, but the other things as a result is living in NY, being able to travel and the free stuff. There’s the love that you get and even helping other people. I don’t complain, I’m just really grateful that people care enough to even want to sit down with me and talk with me so thank you! AM: What are the workouts that you do and clearly with your job you always have to be ready for whatever is coming at you. LB: I do a few things. I change up the routine so that my body doesn’t get too comfortable. At one point, I was doing a Dwayne exercise which we would focus on a particular muscle group for that day so Mon – chest, Tues – back legs, Wed – shoulders, Thurs - abs, Fri - arms. I was doing that for awhile. Right now, I’m doing a compound full body approach. I do something for each muscle group but as a full body type of thing. When we start filming, I will probably do an upper body routine and then a lower body the next day. I try to do abs everyday usually – at least 200 of something for abs. Again, even with Ballers, in season 1, they were like, “London, we need you to put this tank top on.” I was like, “ahhhh not right now.” At the end of season 2, not that I turned into Dwayne, but I filled out a bit and worked on some stuff. When I did that pool scene, I got myself together with my arms. Even with this, I got some intimate scenes in season 1 and I’m still vacillating between ideas of what I look like because that was one scene that I wish I could have gone back and taken a look. Not that I could

have changed what I looked like that day, but I know that that scene is coming up and I just hope that I look ok! Because it’s onscreen and this is now locked in forever. That’s why I don’t waste any time. They were making jokes at me for going into the gym, but I was telling my co-stars that this is the first time that people will see whatever they are seeing of us and on the branding side of things, I have done a few photoshoots outside of this. So if people reach out because they think your body looks nice, they may want you to be the face of Levi Jeans or Gap Jeans. I’m thinking way past the scene – it’s the branding side of it. I’m also thinking about the leading guy side of it. Will Smith was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire until we saw him in I am Legend for example. We saw him chiseled up and then we saw him in Ali and he put some size on him. Or even Michel B. Jordan, we were like, “hey that’s the handsome looking Black guy." Then he sized up for Creed and people were like, "ooo Michael B. Jordan." The response that women had when they said his name, I was like, “ok he leveled up!” When he did Black Panther, now he’s in a different league and he is a leading guy. These are the things that I am thinking about so when people are joking about me being in the gym, I’m like, “listen, we’ve got to think past Power if we’re thinking about the next level. We’ve got to look good.” AM: Absolutely. You don’t know where it’s coming from. You’re right with Michael B. Jordan, we had his trainer who is a Body Transformation Specialist, Corey Calliet who also does a lot of the people in the Marvel Universe etc as our July cover in 2018. He talked about how he transformed his body and you’re right, when he started taking on those roles with that physique, he’s a leading action hero! Now he’s in Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. So you’re definitely ahead of the game! LB: I’m just thinking advanced because I live in anticipation and I believe that I can have it and I manifest it. I don’t have any doubt and I am just preparing for the things that I believe are going to come.

It’s like when Noah had the arc and people said, there’s going to be a storm and you need to get on the boat and people were like, “yeah sure - right.” I’m just trying to tell my friends that we have to get ready. Everyone mentally is not able to function in that capacity. But I know of many things that I have said and they did happen and when I spoke about Power and to be on Power, I had no idea it would be in the spinoff and I knew I wanted to do it. There are a couple of things on the list and I am just trying to do the best that I can to be prepared for them as I know that they are on the way. AM: Do you have other projects that you’re working on that we should keep an eye out? LB: Right now, it’s Power and now that the clubs are opening up, I will get back into doing standup. But there is a book of photography that I’m working on. I want to use the photos for the income from the book to help with homeless people. I do a lot with homeless people. Growing up, I always have helped street people and would feed them. LA has a huge homeless problem so I am working on this coffee table book. As people look at the homeless people from the different places that I have traveled to, it’s a way to keep us very grounded and to remind us on how we look at things. It’s very easy, not that I am in a high position, but even in the position that I am in, you can get caught up and think it’s about you. The best way for me to keep my heart in check is that I am always giving. By doing this book and what have you, it will help people that when they sit down and their rich friends come over and they take off their Rolex, there’s a book there that you can just tap into every so often and they can say that they are grateful for their apartment, house or whatever they have. That book will remind them that there are people who don’t even have a bed or food. I would give these people a pear, apple, PB+J and they would say, “thank you, I appreciate you.” I would talk with them and I realized that people aren't just crazy or

on drugs. They may have went through a depression, a divorce, were in the military and they just fell on tough times. Even with this pandemic, it showed how people had troubles and everyone was shut down. Now people have to reup and regroup and focus. I did a table read during the pandemic and one of the actors was complaining about something and I’m like, “brother, we’re doing a table read. We’re working.” That’s the angle, I’m not mad at him. It just reminds me that I need to keep giving and keep myself very connected and grounded because the truth is, if I stay on the ground, if I fall or stumble, I’m already down there. But when people get besides themselves and spiritually, I’d rather keep myself humble then to have God do it – I got it and will do what I need to do because I don’t want Him to do it. I'll stay in check. AM: So when you’re not on set or on stage and all of the things you do, what do you do to take time for yourself? LB: If it’s not the gym, I’m going live and cooking. I do a lot of live stuff and interact with my followers. Or it’s my photography, I’m out and about with my camera shooting or just trying to help friends with their headshots. I also cut hair so if I'm in the city or I'm at home, guys want to come up, I cut hair. I’ll be home if anything, I’m really easy going. I like the selfcare of cooking at home or going to the gym or giving to others in some capacity – the homeless and feeding them and trying to be of service. @RealLondonBrown PHOTO CREDITS | PG 127 London Brown | PG 128 + 131 HBO/Ballers | PG 132 - 139 STARZ/Power Book III: Raising Kanan |

1 in 4 kids may face hunger because of the coronavirus.

With schools closed and parents’ paychecks cut, countless children in America don’t know where their next meal is coming from. You can help feed them during this crisis, and in the recovery to come. Find out how you can help at

BingelyBooks economies through surf tourism. In this book an array of voices come together from Mami Wata's co-founder, Selema Masekela along with noted African photographers, thinkers, writers, and surfers to explore the unique culture of eighteen coastal countries, from Morocco to Somalia, Mozambique, South Africa, and beyond. This coffee table book has over fifty essays, AFROSURF features surfer and skater profiles, thought pieces, poems, photos, illustrations, ephemera, recipes, and a mini comic, combined to showcase this surfing culture.



Ten Speed Press Mami Wata AFROSURF celebrates African surf culture, an area that may not be as known and includes profiles, essays, photographs and illustrations. This collection of materials is compiled by Mami Wata a Cape Town surf company that believes in African surf. They source and manufacture their assortment in Africa and work with communities to strengthen local

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Emmy and James Beard Award nominated host of Potluck with Ali Rosen on NYC Life released Modern Freezer Meals: Simple Recipes to Cook Now and Freeze for Later. Ali's latest book focuses on a way to preserve food beyond canning and fermenting. The freezer is a powerful tool that really assists in the best way to meal prep and to have a dish that is available to have on hand when you need it. In this book, she includes 100

Issue #67 | Jul 2021

Drinks which takes sparkling beverages that are better for you and allows you to create cocktails to make them unique. The recipes are easy to make and use some of your favorite seltzers that you and your friends enjoy. You'll see how to make Sparkling Frose, Poppin' Lemon Drops, Watermelon Sugar Slishies, One-Minute Margs and more. We think that this will be your go to resource throughout the year.

fresh recipe for frozen foods. The assortment has healthy dishes, grain bowls, proteins that are cooked straight from the freezer as well as maintaining the integrity of flavors. Ali breaks down her tips from proper packaging and labeling techniques while also breaking myths that you may have heard about freezer meals. She focuses on meals that stand up to the cold and you no longer have to worry about freezer burn and dishes that you can't decipher. Some of the dishes that we want to check out are Everything Biscuits, Mashed Potato Bell Peppers, Cherry Chocolate Cookies, Ricotta Gnocchi and more.


In the Hard Seltzer Cocktail Book: 55 Unofficial Recipes for White Claw Slushies, Truly Mixers and More Spiked Seltzer Issue #67 | Jul 2021

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BingelyStreaming recluse and how they can maintain his legacy to ensure that his fans stay with him to hear about the jounrey of his characters.

DR. DEATH Peacock Original Peacock

THE FINAL CHAPTERS OF RICHARD BROWN WINTERS Gimlet/Spotify Originals Spotify We came across The FInal Chapters of Richard Brown Winters podcast which is 1 episode with 13 chapters that introduces us to the quest of an author who is known for creating a series of books; however, he is a recluse that hasn't been seen for awhile. His fans are wondering when he will release his next book since it has been years since his last night. His critics wonder why the consistency of his books aren't there. A small group of curious people come together to find out more about the author, his process and to understand why he has lived the way he has for so long. In addition, they uncover a number of truths about the

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We enjoyed the first season of Wondery's Dr. Death podcast which talked about the destructive and murderous Dr. Christopher Duntsch who terrorized unsuspecting patients in Dallas, Texas with surgeries that left them more uncomfortbale then when they started, paralyzed and in some cases dead. This successful podcast has been turned into a series that's perfectly bingeable on Peacock. In this series, we find out about how Duntch's past ultimately created an individual who would take his narcissistic behavior, risky surgeries and the ability to use his charm to advance in his career. We also get insight into how he was ultimately taken down by the efforts of two doctors and a legal system that had to navigate how they approached doctors who work in such a negligent way as well as how they created checks and balances to better monitor the medical community as a means to advocate for patients rights. For those who enjoyed the podcast, this series is a great way to learn more about portions of the story that were not covered.

Issue #67 | Jul 2021

THE CONTROL GROUP iHeartMedia iHeartRadio

life return to normal? The Control Group looks at how people operate under distress when it is initiated by forces that are meant to protect those that they serve.

The second season of The Control Group is a fictional podcast about a nuclear event that takes place in a city. Throughout the episodes, we find out how an entire town either lives in their bunkers or go to an area shelter. With little information being shared, they all listen to a radio station to find out what is taking place and to prepare for their next steps. As we learn more about the main characters which includes a family, a stranger that happens to be caught up in the events that have unfolded as well as the military, we learn that there is more going on then what is being shared. How much of the nuclear episode is real and how big is it? What's happening outside of the town that this is taking place and will

Issue #67 | Jul 2021

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Issue #67 | Jul 2021

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The summer is perfect to enjoy with friends, family and your significant other. This means sitting around the table with great meals and making memories. We took some time to talk with Co-Owner/ Chef Christian Ortiz of YUCO who tells us about the foods and spices of the Yucatan Peninsula and what is indicative of the region along with what he offers on his menu when you stop in next.

permanently altered by a global pandemic. There were a lot of passionate conversations, sleepless nights, lawyers, brokers, contracts, deliveries, dust, mistakes, talented team members, and dare I say a little bit of luck, but we opened. It's only been about 5 weeks, but our local regulars, and the neighborhood, have been extremely kind and supportive to us.

ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell me about your culinary background and how it led to you becoming the Chef/Co-Owner of YUCO.

AM: How do you define your style of cooking?

CHEF CHRISTIAN ORTIZ: My culinary background has basically been self taught. I've been cooking in Manhattan for 10+ years, in many, many different capacities. I've had the privilege of being my own boss for a bit of a while now. I think that space to grow and express myself creatively has humbled me, but also given me an opportunity to do things by my own rules. That developmental phase is a very important step in a chef, or any creative individual's trajectory. It's a massive responsibility, but if one harnesses it, and can inspire, teach, and train a team, to follow that vision, - well that's the kind of environment that makes careers. AM: Why did you want to open YUCO? CHEF CO: To be honest, I didn't. In the height of the pandemic, my business partner asked me if I wanted to go back into the restaurant industry, and I gave him a list of reasons why that would be a bad idea. It's an exquisitely unforgiving landscape. Restaurants are a living breathing organism that few will understand, less excel at, and even fewer master. Being independently funded, I never wanted to put an individual's investment in jeopardy. After some research and development, and several life changing bottles of wine, we agreed that we had to open up this restaurant for the sake of being able to give back to the NYC dining environment. An environment which previously had fostered so many special moments for the both of us, that had been ravished, and

CHEF CO: I've always viewed cooking as a privilege. A sacred bond between the guest, the ingredient, and the technique. I am just the vessel where those things come together. This allows me to transcend the notions of what a plate "should be" and hopefully, pleasantly surprise the senses. My cooking is light, yet bold. Very ingredient and technique focused. I use a lot of circles, and curves in my plating/dishes because for me it reinforces the idea of a community and sacred/divine feminim. AM: What are the foods and/or spices that are indicative of the Yucatan Peninsula? CHEF CO: Foods/spices - Cohinita pibil, fresh seafood, achiote, sour orange, coconut. The flavor profiles of the Yucatan Peninsula are acid, heat, and smoke. It's a bit of a multi-layered question. First there's Meso-American cuisine one has to acknowledge/understand, and then there's New World cuisine that one has to acknowledge/understand, and the influences those cultures have had on the culinary terrain. For example, the Dutch settlement in the Yucatan has led to Edam Cheese being a staple of most kitchens there. AM: What can guests expect when they come to dine at YUCO? CHEF CO: A truly unique dining experience unlike any other. An environment that has an unparalleled attention to de-

tail. AM: What are 3 cocktails that we should try when visiting? CHEF CO: In all honesty, I would try all the cocktails. I would compare this question to asking a parent "which is their favorite child." Our head of Bar Program, Ben Wald, has created a cocktail menu that is boldly unique, but also takes into consideration the varying palettes of NYC diners/cocktail enthusiasts. And how that eco-system coincides with our culinary program. AM: What are 3 signature dishes that you suggest that you should enjoy? CHEF CO: We have an a la carte menu, short form, and long form tasting menu. We're also working on doing one off menus at the Chef's counter, as we continue to build trust and loyalty with our guests. There are a number of dishes to enjoy such as the Pan Seared Diver Scallop, Wagyu Ribeye Steak and the Niman Ranch Pork Pibil which is recommended for parties of 6-8 people and must be orderd 24 hours in advance. AM: What are 3 appetizers that you suggest? CHEF CO: I would humbly suggest our guests try the entire menu. Maybe not in a single sitting. The ceviche, elote soup, tacos, Crispy octopus, and mole are life changing, but I think the menu as a whole is a very transcendiary experience. @YUCORestaurant @ChefChristianOrtiz PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY | YUCO

Issue #67 | Jul 2021

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Articles inside

ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | For the Love of the Game article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | For the Love of the Game
pages 1, 16-25, 170
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9DRIP Pooch Hall article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9DRIP Pooch Hall
pages 31-33
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9DRIP Jordan Andino article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9DRIP Jordan Andino
pages 35-37
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | The Pick Me Up article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | The Pick Me Up
page 43
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Make it Work with Tim Gunn article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Make it Work with Tim Gunn
pages 44-51
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Athleisure List: Citrovia at Manhattan West article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Athleisure List: Citrovia at Manhattan West
pages 58-59
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Athleisure List: PJ Bernstein Deli article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Athleisure List: PJ Bernstein Deli
pages 60-61
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | In Our Bag - Embracing Your Wanderlust article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | In Our Bag - Embracing Your Wanderlust
page 64
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9PLAYLIST Tyler Rich article cover image
pages 66-67
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LIST ROUTIN3S Harley Pasternak article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LIST ROUTIN3S Harley Pasternak
pages 71-73
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LIST ROUTIN3S Nyesha Arrington article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LIST ROUTIN3S Nyesha Arrington
pages 79-81
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Cactus Beauty article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Cactus Beauty
page 88
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Rock This On Endless Summer Day Activities article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Rock This On Endless Summer Day Activities
page 93
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LOOKS Camilla article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LOOKS Camilla
pages 94-95
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Athleisure Beauty article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Athleisure Beauty
page 97
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | A Journey of Discovery with Nyesha Arrington article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | A Journey of Discovery with Nyesha Arrington
pages 100-111
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Celebrating Flavors with Chef Eric Adjepong article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Celebrating Flavors with Chef Eric Adjepong
pages 116-123
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Manifest Your Life with London Brown article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Manifest Your Life with London Brown
pages 126-140
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | #TRIBEGOALS article cover image
page 146
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Bingely Books article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Bingely Books
pages 148-149
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Bingely Streaming article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | Bingely Streaming
pages 150-151
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | How to Dress Apres Swim Essentials article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | How to Dress Apres Swim Essentials
page 152
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | The Art of the Snack YUCO article cover image
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | The Art of the Snack YUCO
pages 154-159
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LIST STORI3S Sofia Kenin article cover image
pages 163-165
ATHLEISURE MAG #67 JUL 2021 | 9LIST  article cover image
page 169