Jesse Rubboli creates recipes, such as yucca fries with homemade beet ketchup, pizza, lasagna and ravioli from cassava and shares them through online videos. The recipes are aimed at people with food allergies or those who are just looking to try something different. (Jenn Parkin Photography)

Nanaimo chef the Sensitive Vegan takes tongue-in-cheek approach to serious cooking

Jesse Rubboli creates cassava-based recipes and shares them via YouTube and on social media

People who suffer from food allergies or perhaps just want to know how to make pink soup might want to check out some recipes by the Sensitive Vegan.

Jesse Rubboli, an online chef and creator of recipes, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to cooking online while he prepares dishes based heavily on cassava, a tuberous starchy root Rubboli substitutes for wheat and potatoes.

“Autoimmune disorders are really popping up [and there are] a lot of allergies these days and food product allergies, and I basically have created a small repertoire of food that caters specifically to all of that,” Rubboli said. “Anyone with any sort of food-borne illness can eat any of my food and not get sick. And for anyone who just wants to try something different, then that’s for them, too.”

Rubboli produces a “bread-like” dough from cassava, which he said is OK for anyone who can’t eat bread, such as people sensitive to gluten or who can’t eat grains. He has created a pizza crust from cassava as well as lasagna and ravioli. Ingredients for some of his dishes, such as chanterelle mushrooms for the lasagna recipe, he forages for himself.

“The pizza … is kind of my specialty everyday thing,” he said. “But the ravioli and the lasagna I’ve never seen done by any other chef, so those are my specialty signature things, and … wild food.”

He also has a recipe for a coconut mozzarella, a vegan cheese that melts like real cheese, which Rubboli said doesn’t always happen with vegan cheese formulations.

Rubboli attended culinary school at Malaspina University-College’s Powell River campus in 2000 and worked as a chef for a number of years before taking a stronger interest in business management. He also developed symptoms from food allergies, which played a role in him changing his career path.

“I got really sick from these allergies, didn’t know what was going on, couldn’t get any help from doctors or anyone really and I found out about this plant paradox diet and tried it out,” Rubboli said. “At that point I was 33 and I could barely walk. My joints were too weak. I’d lost between 40 and 60 pounds at one point and with a couple weeks of trying this diet out [I was] healed.”

His personal success with the diet spurred him to share the recipes he developed, which he now does with cooking classes and recipes on YouTube and other social media.

“My YouTube is super goofy stuff,” Rubboli said. “A lot of comedy. A lot of deadpan sort of comedy stuff, just trying to have a different angle on it than what’s out there … it’s not like it’s all serious or anything.”

He hopes the YouTube videos will one day draw a big enough audience to begin generating advertising revenue and, possibly, an income. He’d also like to see his cassava pizza crust on supermarket shelves, but for now he said his work is in “that transitional stage” between a hobby and a potential new career.

“My goal with YouTube is just to promote my brand and, hopefully, one day, to have ads running in my videos…” Rubboli said. “It’s halfway just a hobby at this point until I learn what more I can do with it.”

To learn more about Rubboli’s recipes, visit the Sensitive Vegan Facebook page at this link or catch his videos on YouTube at this link.
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