Adrian De Berardinis, The Bear-Naked Chef, grew up in a foodie household, and began cooking at the age of 8, cultivating his passion for authentic Italian cuisine, learning from the loving and masterful hands of his grandmother and mother. It’s his mediation and therapy. It is his world to explore, taste, see, feel, experience and ultimately share. The Bear-Naked Chef offers recipes and instructional videos in its rawest form to you, stripped down, easy to follow, and simply delicious. Get to know him a little better in the interview below, and don’t miss for his exclusive contributions to woofd.
Dustin: When did you become interested in cooking? When did you decide to make it your career? Adrian: I became curious about cooking at a very early age. I found a kids cookbook at 8 years old and started making recipes out of it, like muffins, cakes, and caramel corn from scratch. I grew up in a few food-centric Italian family. Dinners and the food we cooked were always such a big deal around our house. Sunday’s all my relatives would convene for big lunches and those are some of my favorites memories growing up. I guess I saw how important food was in bringing everyone together. My family also owned several pizzerias and restaurants and I worked in them from the age of 11 til I was off to college. I got some really valuable kitchen skills working there. I flipped pizzas for many years. I always loved to entertain. After working in restaurants majority of my life I didn’t have the desire to open my own. The hours are killer, and it’s a very competitive and tough business. I decided to start a catering and personal chef business instead.
I worked in the restaurant industry for over a decade, and yeah, those hours are tough. Was it hard taking a leap to start your own business? And when and how did the “bear-naked” element come into play?
It was challenging because I changed careers and moved to a new city all at once: Los Angeles. I’ve been cooking naked for years. It started back with my very first boyfriend. We’d get up on the weekends and make breakfast naked together. It kind of became a thing. I continued to do it after we split. It became a bit of a fetish for me. I got into this primal zone when it happened. And I realized there was a sexy element in it as well. While I was getting my catering business off the ground I had this idea to do a naked cooking web-series to fill up my time while I was building a clientele. I approached a friend, Brandon Roberts, in tv docu-series production about the idea. He gagged over it and the wheels were in motion.
Your brand has a great origin story! Dare I ask how the ex feels about your success?
It’s actually a funny story about when the ex found out: I haven’t spoken to him for probably 15 yrs. when the first episode was released he sent me a message on Facebook saying how I cooked his favorite dish, chicken alla cacciatora. In a way I honored the birth of cooking naked with him but starting my serious with that. We speak now and he’s a huge fan and supporter.
I think it’s a unique and sexy idea. Also a good way to motivate yourself to stay in shape. Do you have any favorite exercises? How long have you been into fitness? What’s your favorite thing to hit in the gym?
I like to eat! So I workout a lot to stay in shape. I started lifting weights when I was 21. I hit the gym about 5-6 times a week, working 2 muscle groups per workout, no longer than 1:30 mins a visit. I love chest day and arms day. Nothing more gratifying than getting a good pump on those days. I’ve started enjoying leg day more. I do legs 2 time a week to beef them up.
Your logo is adorable. Is it a tongue or mustache? Gets your imagination going much like your web-series. Can you talk a little bit about it?
I am very happy with the way my logo turned out. A graphic designer/artist friend of mine, Xuan Villebrille designed it for me. I gave him some references of what I liked and he came up with perfect vision. And It is a bear with his tongue licking his lips. What I want all my viewers to do when they watch….
You grew up in a big Italian family, has that impacted your outlook on the gay community?
I grew up in a very macho and homophobic family. I’m one of 3 boys, both of my older brothers are great athletes, and ladies men. My parents sent me to reparative therapy when I was 5. It was quite traumatizing for me as a child. I survived it though. I’ve embraced my sexuality slowly. I came out to my family when I was 21. It’s been a process for them accepting my lifestyle. I actually realized after I released BNC that it was symbolic of where I’m at today. Despite my struggles, I’ve arrived at a place in my life where I have nothing to hide. Cooking naked I guess is a metaphor for brazenly showing the world that I’m here, still standing, doing what I love to do, exposed and naked, this is me, take it or leave it, love it or hate it, I have nothing to hide anymore. My family actually embraced the show’s concept and are very proud of me for my bravery and it’s success.
My parents haven’t always been supportive of my sexuality either. Must have tough, but I’m glad you’re a good place now. Sexuality orientation has been making headlines recently with the shooting in Orlando. Do you have any thoughts on that? Or advice for anyone going through some of the things you did and how to embrace who you are and what you love to do?
So many things propelling the LGTBQ liberation/movement has happened in the last year. I was so proud of the presence and acceptance of the trans community in media. It really spoke to me that this marginalized and so for long, hidden part of the community got a voice. And now with The unraveling of the Orlando massacre and shooters stories: the heaviness that self-hatred and self-loathing still exists with people coming into themselves is heartbreaking. When I started therapy to deal with my trauma of being in reparative therapy, all my therapists told me that statistically people go through what I did resort to suicide suicide because the wound is so deep. I realized that I have survived something that others may find insurmountable and that makes me so sad and angry; that parents, piers and institutions can decide that a child or person is not worthy of love. My advice to anyone who is questioning their sexuality to talk to someone who they trust. Find support of others in the LGTB community. And let them tell you that you are worth being loved and let them love you.
Do you have a favorite episode? You have some travel specials in your series. Do you have any favorite destinations?
I had a great time filming all my episodes. My favorite one I think is Episode 2: Paccheri con Gamberi. It’s a unique recipe that I was excited to share. It’s a family favorite, my dad’s recipe. I’m reminded of how excited he gets when he makes it. After the first 3 episodes were released I got tons of mail from fans all over the world to come cook in their cities. So i did. I really enjoyed taking my show in the road for my Travel Edition. Learning and Cooking the native food in madrid and Lisbon really brought me closer to the these cultures. Lisbon is an incredible city. I want to explore Portugal more.
You’re based in Madrid. Any favorite spots you’d suggest?
I’m spending the summer in Madrid. I fell in love with it here after filming my Bear-Naked Chef: Travel Edition. It’s an amazing city rich with culture, delicious food and the people are so sexy! There are so many great eateries, El Tigre in Chuecha, Circo in Malasaña, and El perro y La Galleta near the Alcála gate are some of my faves.
You have a cook book coming out. What can we expect?
I’ve had many requests from fans to do a cookbook. I’m working on the early stages of putting together a Kickstarter campaign for the first one. It will have delicious recipes that are an extension of me and my culinary background. And of course there will be beautiful photography of the food and some of me in action, in the garden, in the kitchen, snapshots of me cooking naked and doing things I do around the house that people might be interested in.
Are there any recipes you won’t do because of the naked element? I’d be worried about getting splashed with hot oil or something.
There isn’t anything I won’t cook naked. I haven’t had any accidents yet. I always take care when I’m working with hot oil or water. Doing it naked forces me to work carefully.
Kickstarter is a great idea. I’ve funded a few projects there. Part of the proceeds from your merchandise go to GlobalGiving. What drew you to this charity. Any others you have been involved with?
I discovered Global Giving foundation in my search a few months ago to give back with the sale of my merchandise. I was looking for a hunger related charity that did more than just feed people, or give money to people in need. As noble a cause as that is, my support goes more to foundations that have a grassroots approach to their cause. I researched over 30 organizations and GlobalGiving’s efforts seemed to resonate with me most. And then after being devastated by the news of Orlando massacre I shifted my focus and wanted to help those families. Low and behold, global giving was on it: they set up a foundation to help them. So it was a no brainer when my merchandise was ready to be sold late June, 2016.
Craig: You have grown a big social media following, and being naked is big part of that, but what other strategies have you used or plan to use to grow your audience and engagement?
I do have a hefty social media following and it’s been a huge support in getting The Bear-Naked Chef up and going. I have plans to make it grow and evolve. The nakedness will continue, but I’ll add new elements like naked guests. And my Travel Edition will take me on the road more, exploring more gastronomic conquests.
You were gracious enough to join the pack here at woofd. What can our visitors expect?
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be a new contributor to woofd. I want to give your readers stuff they’ve never read before…how to win over the in-laws with dinner. What to make when you want to bed your date. What to prepare for the guy you’re gonna break-up with. Stuff like that. And maybe some workout secrets I have up my sleeve. Thanks so much. Happy 4th of July btw!
Thanks man! Happy Forth. Gonna head to the pool in a bit.
You doing anything over on that side?
I just celebrated pride weekend here in madrid. Absolutely amazing! This city knows how to do pride. I was on a float…quite fun.
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