We introduce you to the pioneer chef who has traded the kitchen’s heat and long hours for a keyboard, converting his decades of handwritten notes and recipes into a revolutionary cookbook, made possible after a decade of setbacks by the guidance of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Welcome A.H. Uman, also known as Christopher Riesbeck, an author who fervently believes that AI can become an indispensable kitchen companion, a precise assistant to transcribe and format recipes for publishing. His groundbreaking vegetable cookbook stands as a testament that this newfound partnership can indeed flourish, provided one knows how to leverage AI’s potential.
In the traditional world of culinary arts and cookbooks, where content typically revolves around narratives about the sizzle of a stove and the aromatic dance of spices in a distant land, A.H. Uman (Christopher Riesbeck) has carved a path with his book, “Simple and Satisfying-Vegetables: A Guide To Buying, Storing, and Cooking Vegetables.” The Simple and Satisfying format is incredibly refreshing and satisfying because it provides an incredible amount of useful information while remaining aesthetically pleasing. This trailblazing approach and format to a cookbook is quickly generating a passionate fan base of new and experienced chefs alike.
How did your passion for cooking first develop?
My journey as a chef kicked off in first grade when my classroom became my first cooking stage, making diverse types of eggs. Being raised in South Bend, IN, my cultural influences were primarily Walmarts and Chain Restaurants. Yet, it was my early exposure to gardening that cultivated a culinary perspective rooted in simplicity and satisfaction, where the ingredients themselves took center stage of my dishes. My culinary epiphany happened in 4th grade when I spent a day in a Marriott hotel kitchen. It was akin to Charlie touring the chocolate factory.
From these sweet childhood memories, how did you decide to pursue a culinary arts career?
During my high school years, I was fortunate enough to attend a local trade school for culinary and pastry, which became a springboard for my culinary education in Chicago at a top-ranked pastry school. There, I honed my skills at illustrious establishments, then further enriched my culinary palette by attending a master’s culinary program in Calabria, Italy. The extraordinary encounters during this Italian sojourn profoundly shaped my character’s foundation.
A culinary school must have been an exciting experience. How did it shape your cooking style and approach to food?
Indeed, culinary school was an exhilarating voyage that helped me lay a robust foundation in cooking techniques, flavor combinations, and food presentation. It instilled in me the significance of using fresh, seasonal ingredients and the art of experimenting with varied flavors and textures. Above all, it nurtured my signature style of creativity – simplicity blended with attention to detail – which I infuse into every dish I create.
You then gained experience in several renowned restaurants. Could you share how it influenced your culinary career?
Working in esteemed restaurants was a transformative experience that exposed me to a plethora of cuisines, diverse cooking styles, and high-pressure environments. These learning platforms offered me the opportunity to glean invaluable insights from talented chefs and work with premium ingredients. These enriching experiences pushed me to continuously elevate and innovate in the kitchen while teaching me the importance of teamwork and time management, both critical in a professional culinary setup.
Let’s now delve into your self-publishing journey. What sparked your desire to write your own cookbook?
As I advanced in my culinary career, I began crafting my own recipes and techniques. The desire to share these culinary creations and inspire others to explore their culinary passions sparked my decision to author a cookbook. The book serves as a canvas where I document my recipes, share my expertise, and introduce my distinctive culinary style to a broader audience.
Your cookbook stands out as not only a self-published work but also the world’s first to be edited and published by AI, featuring AI-generated illustrations. This implies that beyond your culinary expertise, you had to tap into a different skill set. Could you shed light on the unique and innovative process involved in this groundbreaking endeavor?
The vision of self-publishing my cookbook was seeded more than a decade ago. However, the daunting task of transcribing my handwritten notes and recipes, coupled with scanning the illustrations or creating them anew, was an obstacle that intimidated me. But then, the game-changer arrived – a chatbot that would teach me the essentials of self-publishing with Amazon, from choosing the right software to creating and formatting a book in Adobe Design, handling ISBNs, and even tackling legal aspects. The AI also provided lessons in marketing and social media engagement, making this publication possible. Despite a minor hiccup with outdated advice about a Facebook Live event, the chatbot’s assistance was invaluable, particularly its recommendation to register my book with the United States Library of Congress. This enabled my friends, family, and fans who might be experiencing financial hardship to order a copy for their local library.
Could you share some of your favorite recipes from your book?
My absolute favorite is the bonus Gazpacho recipe nestled at the end of the book. I delve into the stories and sentimental reasons behind my love for this dish in the book, but gazpacho, to me, is a perfect illustration of the magic that happens when you transform fresh, simple ingredients into a fulfilling culinary creation. Other favorites include Air Fried Portobello Mushroom Caps, Zucchini Ribbons, Caramelized Onions, Air Fried Brussels Sprouts, Pan Roasted Asparagus, and Caramelized Cauliflower.
Do you plan to produce another cookbook in the same format?
Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the format, it’s safe to say that my future books will adopt the same style. I am thrilled to collaborate with some personal culinary celebrities on new books, a journey that will take me to the Midwest next month. Details of upcoming books, events, and soon, bonus content to accompany the books, can be found on our company website.
Your pen name, ‘A. H. Uman,’ seems to suggest that we can never exclude the human touch in creating delightful food, even as AI comes to the forefront. What’s your perspective on how much AI can influence your kitchen and the culinary world at large?
I love your meaning however A.H. Uman has been my pen name before I published my cookbook. As A.H. Uman, I chose this pen name to underscore the shared human experiences that are reflected in my work. It’s not about me as an individual, but about the universal truths and narratives we all share. This choice is a deliberate one, a decision to shift the focus from any personal fame or bias to the inherent value of the work itself. My pseudonym serves as a subtle reminder that the emotions, insights, and stories in my writing are not confined to my perspective alone. They are part of what connects us all as humans. In essence, the name ‘A Human’ is not just about me, it’s about all of us. It’s an embodiment of an altruistic approach that seeks to highlight the authenticity and integrity of the work, with the ability to touch any reader, anywhere, as we are all fundamentally ‘A Human’.
Main picture: Christopher Riesbeck and Virág Vida.
– Virág Vida –
The article was written with the help of AI.