Local Chef Creates Tempeh for Sale

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A local chef turned to

tempeh to resource her health

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after facing a serious

bacterial infection.

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Now she makes the living

food in small batches

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for sale in Durango.

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You’re watching the Local News Network

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brought to you by 2180

Lighting and Design Studio

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and FASTSIGNS of Durango,

I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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Southwest Colorado chef

Maddalena Tummenaro

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accidental stabbed herself

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with a pitchfork several years ago,

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and soon found her system overwhelmed

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with a serious bacterial infection.

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After months on intravenous

antibiotics, she healed.

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But the microbiomes in

her system were destroyed

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leaving her vulnerable to more infections.

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Scientist estimate that

the human body is a home

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to about 100 trillion

microbiomes, like fungi,

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bacteria, or viruses

that live in our skin,

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in our respiratory system,

mouth, digestive tract

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and other areas of our body.

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They protect us against disease

and help us breakdown food

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to release energy.

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As a chef of 25 years, the

last 15 of which were focused

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on organic and healthy foods,

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she searched for a way

to resort the biomes

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in her system naturally.

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That’s when her journey to

make fresh tempeh began.

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Tempeh is a protein-rich

food made from a combination

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of beans, grains, and

seeds that’s fermented

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with a type of fungus to produce mycelium,

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a white fiber-like substance

that surrounds the bean

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and forms a solid cake of living food.

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Mycelium is the plant part of a fungus

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that allows the fungus to

breakdown plants into nutrients.

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It’s found naturally in soils

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and is sometimes used

as an organic additive

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to enrich soils for cultivation.

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And so this fungus has a life.

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It is alive, it’s really

hard to live fungus

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anywhere in the US because

it has a shelf-life

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and so we’re used to eating

things that are packaged

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and processed, pasteurized,

so that they are shelf-stable.

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This is not, and this

fungus isn’t quite done it

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it’s still growing here.

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And the inspiration for the tempeh,

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tempeh has been made

for thousands of years,

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but the inspiration for the

tempeh for me to get into it,

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was seeing the mycelium in the soil

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where we grow our food to try

to create pockets of life.

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So in the beginning of life, or the end,

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depending on how you want to look at it,

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the mycelium comes in and

makes the nutrition available

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in the soil for the plants.

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Well, the mycelium’s

doing the same thing here.

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So the mycelium comes in

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and breaks down the oligosaccharides

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in the beans, greens, and legumes

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and makes the nutrition more

available for us to intake.

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And that’s really important.

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It also develops an amazing flavor,

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so you get a lot of umami flavors

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and these you know, complex cheesy, nutty,

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depending on the substrate.

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So for a chef this is a really unique food

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and then it ages to create even

more intense umami flavors.

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Tummenaro begun making

commercial batches of tempeh

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about a year ago under

the label of Luv Tempeh.

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In winter she makes

about 100 pounds per week

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and in summer up to 300 pounds per week

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in her home-based commercial kitchen.

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Tummenaro makes every batch by hand

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from all organic products.

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She hand wraps the bricks

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in environmentally sustainable paper

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and deliveries her products

to retail stores herself.

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Although tempeh traditionally

is made with soya beans

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Tummenaro makes six varieties.

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From a black bean, millet,

and sunflower seed tempeh,

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to what she calls a breakfast tempeh,

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made with chickpeas, cocoa

nibs, and pumpkin seeds.

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The latter doesn’t taste

like chocolate at all.

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She calls it a breakfast tempeh

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because the cocoa has caffeine in it.

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Fresh tempeh is so

versatile you can really

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use it any way that you would cook meat.

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But it’s so good that

honestly the best thing to do

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with it, is just a little bit salt,

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fried in maybe just a touch of oil

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on a nice thick cast iron skillet.

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It’s so special, I

mean, the subtle flavors

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of fresh tempeh, you don’t get

that with pasteurized tempeh.

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This is real live fungus,

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so it’s almost very similar

to cooking a mushroom.

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But it’s firmer, so

unlike tofu or mushrooms,

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it’s easier to throw on a grill.

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This is not even done

yet, but it’s quite firm

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and you can also use it like bread,

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so slicing it longways and toasting it

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will work really nicely, it holds up.

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For people who don’t do

gluten or certain grains

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that’s a really good option just cause

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it’s still a whole food.

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You can purchase Luv

Tempeh at Natures Oasis,

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Durango Natural Foods, Zuma

Natural Foods in Mancos,

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and the Durango Farmers Market.

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To learn more about Luv Tempeh

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visit her website at luvtempeh.com.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the Local News Network,

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I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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