Local Chef Creates Tempeh for Sale

2/23/2021

Local chef, Maddalena Tummenaro, faced a life-threatening bacterial infection that had to be treated with a long-course of intravenous antibiotics that she says literally destroyed the good bacteria in her digestive system, so she started making tempeh to restore her health. Now she sells her creations under the label of Luv Tempeh.

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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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