Culinary thought leader Don Peavy—also known professionally as “Chef PV”—is transforming what we eat and what we think about what we eat. His is a platform of sustainability, entomophagy (the consumption of insects), and social and political awareness. As a full-spectrum chef, and progressive voice in the food industry, Peavy is making profound change more digestible and delicious for everyone.
“Food is political. It’s a lifestyle, it’s medicine, and it feeds the soul,” says the Brooklyn-based Peavy. “My work is not just about preparing that perfect filet mignon, it’s about exposing people to new ideas. For me, opening people’s minds to their diet and what’s possible is a window into opening up their viewpoints in other parts of their life.”
Peavy’s food career has rocketed skyward since his emergence on the scene back in 2004. He began his professional career in the vegan and raw vegan world, first as a baker at a Williamsburg café, and, later, as a cook in the popular New York raw food kitchen Rockin’ Raw. Peavy’s career gained traction during his eight-year tenure as an event chef for the New York City-based elite caterer, Great Performances. It was here he learned the art of plate design and polished his people skills as a private chef. During this exciting time, Peavy also completed a program at the Culinary Education Center in Asbury Park, NJ. By the end of 2014, he had cooked for celebrities and billionaires alike, including Michael Bloomberg, Spike Lee, Madonna and President Obama, and he appeared on the popular Jamie Oliver reality TV-show, Chef Race: UK vs. US.
Peavy is known for his edgy eats. His palette of inspiration pulls from all edibles, including insects. He’s trained in special diets such as gluten free and vegan cuisine. And, although he’s not a practicing vegan currently, Peavy is aligned with vegan values on reducing animal intake and sustainability issues.
“People can be disconnected from their food. They sometimes don’t realize the health of people and the planet go hand in hand,” Peavy says. “I’m into opening minds.” One way Peavy is furthering this agenda is through developing zero-waste hubs. Another way is through promoting meat alternatives through his passion for entomophagy.
“If we can increase people’s appetite for insects, we can decrease the demand for traditional meat,” reveals Peavy. “A lot of people feel a meal is not a real meal unless it’s meat based. But they’re not taking into account the carbon footprint of meat, the conditions these animals suffer in, and the alternative foods out there that are just as tasty.”
His delicious entomophagy dishes use scorpions, mealworms, and crickets. And how do they taste? “Crickets taste like a butter burst with Parmesan cheese, and their exoskeleton lends them a nuttiness like a cashew. Scorpions taste amazing, like a chicken wing dipped in sesame oil and a soft shell crab combined.” These daredevil dishes have been profiled on the entomophagy-themed ONErpm web series, Buggin' Out with ChefPV.
For Peavy, entomophagy represents many troubling preconceptions within society and the political landscape. “Eighty percent of the world’s population eats bugs, but people in America don’t. There is a deep-seated belief that bugs connote issues of poverty and assimilation,” Peavy says.
Up next, Peavy wants to encourage people to cook more on their own to share bold and tasty meals with their families and loved ones. He also wants to further develop his zero waste initiatives. In conclusion, Peavy says: “Food connects many different facets in ours lives in meaningful ways. It connects issues of our environment, politics, race, gender, sexuality, and class. I want my work to stir up a dialogue, and, hopefully, spread love across divides.”