Elite Spotlight : Ruben Maislos (@meatcurator)
Argentinian meat master Ruben Maislos doesn’t just cook to eat. For him, it’s a way of life. Influenced by his South American roots, as well as cultures all over the world, he draws inspiration from fellow social media food influencers and is passionate about sharing what he learns.
He sat down with Dalstrong to talk about his love of asado, his frustration with food waste, and why pizza is life.
Tell me about your background and how you got into cooking.
I was born in Argentina, immigrated to Israel, and traveled the world. I’ve been influenced by a lot of cultures and food, including the US. Growing up, I cooked asado a lot with my dad. It’s a whole ceremony of grilling meat over an open fire. I also learned to cook from my mother. I started @meatcurator over three years ago, after I left an executive position in the high tech corporate world, and had some free time to cook and could afford to play around with social media.
My wife is a photographer and would help with production and editing. We did this together. I’m an engineer, so I like to constantly improve, and I studied everything to make my channel stick out: angles, content types, video editing, the things I was cooking.
I grew a large following over the past three years because we invested a lot of time and effort. The food cost was not cheap either. My motto for life is: “Take everything seriously. Do it and do it right.” You have to put effort into fantastic content and make it better all the time to engage followers. I own a huge Dalstrong collection, but there’s always room for more. I own about twenty knives, but I want more.
You also have the motto “Pizza is Life” on your Instagram profile...
Pizza is everything. You can live by pizza. You can put anything on it. It’s in the oven, it’s hot. It’s good! If a person doesn’t like pizza, I probably wouldn't like that person. Everybody should love pizza.
I have to have it at least once a week or some other sort of burned carbs. I have four pizza ovens and thirty grills, ovens, and smokers. And I live in an apartment.
It sounds like cooking is more of a lifestyle for you, not just a means to an end.
It is. I grill everything, and eat meat every day. I’m not the type of person who advocates only consuming prime cuts, like filet mignon. Eat the chuck, eat the tail, respect the animal. Grind up what you can’t grill or cook to make burgers or sausage. No waste, I hate food waste.
Leftover steak gets chopped up into tacos, leftover brisket gets cooked into a pasta sauce. I recycle everything. Throwing away food is the world’s biggest problem. Half of what people buy goes to the garbage. It’s ridiculous.
People are used to consuming only prime cuts and not making use of other cuts. We’ll have steaks on my feed, but also burgers, tacos, kabobs, and chicken that are more affordable. Everyone should be able to make a good meal on a budget.
What’s your favorite new recipe discovery?
Since Covid, I’m baking almost every day. I’m obsessed with the perfect burger buns. I managed to perfect it recently. It’s a bit different from grilling and cooking different things on the stove.
It’s so fun to smell fresh bread. Lately it’s mostly make do with what you have at home and reuse everything. I think we all became obsessed with this recently.
What’s your best kitchen hack?
A way to peel off whole garlic heads very quickly is put them in a sealed container, three or four whole bulbs, and shake it. After about thirty shakes it’s all separated. Pretty amazing. Another important tip is to always use a thermometer when working with meat.
Not a hack, but it’s a must. You buy expensive pieces of protein and then ruin it by overcooking. You could’ve saved that expensive steak with a $5 thermometer. Know the temperatures, both novice cooks or pro chefs. Even at restaurants they don’t always use thermometers, and it's not good.
When you’re not in the kitchen, where are you?
I just started walking a bit because we’re all so lazy these days. I’m walking five miles a day or so every morning. We’ve all become couch potatoes.
What are three things every kitchen needs?
First of all, I can’t live without the 10.25” Shogun Chef Knife. I use it all the time, every day. I’m brutal on it. It’s gorgeous and big. My other favorite is the 6” Shogun Ultimate Utility & Sandwich Knife.
It’s not too sharp, and I can spread and shred with it. And then the 6” Omega Boning Knife for deboning my steaks or butchering different cuts. I dry age my own meats, then I cut the steaks with it.
Who are your cooking heroes?
I get a lot of inspiration from Francis Mallman, an Argentinian chef. He does a lot of cooking outdoors with an open fire. And Jamie Oliver. I grew up watching those shows. Love him and his style. In general, I'm inspired by cooks on Instagram, not necessarily famous chefs.
I see something I like, I make a connection with them. No one should have cooking secrets. I always give away my methods. And so do others. When I started three years ago, I was at a different level. I thought I was good, but nowhere near where I am now. Now I think I’m good, but it’s because I've learned so much from others.
If you could cook a meal for one person, who would it be?
I’d cook for the pope. Which is funny because I’m Jewish! But I adore him. He’s Argentinian, and he loves meat. He’s an inspirational person around the world and making changes.
What is the one dish that everyone seems to screw up?
Here in Israel, I see them screw up steaks. I don’t eat that outside my house most of the time. Only a few places. Besides that, I'm not really in a position to criticize.
I just know how to make a good steak, so I can criticize. There’s good and bad for everything, but I'm no judge.
What is the mark of a great chef?
In my opinion, a great chef knows how to work with any type of ingredients, fancy or not. He constantly strives to make people happy. He does that by giving them a whole experience when they come to eat at his place.
To bring them back again and again, that’s the goal. Whether fast food or high-end luxury dining, as long as it’s something they really enjoy that would make someone go out of their way to come.
What would be your last meal?
A full Argentinian asado ceremony with wine and music. With good ribs, sweet bread, chorizo and veggies on the grill.
Stay Up To Date With Ruben
To follow Ruben’s food journey, follow him on Instagram.
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Written by Abby Slate
Born and raised in the South, Abby lives by three things: bacon goes in everything, all food can (and should) be deep fried, and hush puppies are religion.