On July 19, abroad It will launch sales of the Outerverse Passport, a new product that gives holders access to a pool of NFT drops from creators focused on the outdoors, adventure, and healthy living. Outgoing NFTs will include beautiful original artwork, but will also be linked to offline facilities and experiences. Think: invitations, special equipment, exclusive content, and more. Because even though Outerverse is built on the latest technology, its mission is to use that high-tech platform to encourage users to go out and spend time interacting with their passion in the real world. Bedrock Badge offers advance access to purchase a passport in front of the general public, and is currently on sale. Sales close at midnight on July 15th.
Among the first group of athletes, artists, innovators and creators to develop drops for Outerverse passport holders is Biju Thomas, chef, cookbook author and avid cyclist. Biju has been involved in the Outside Network since the release of his first cookbook, published by an imprint now owned by Outside, and has written stories and recipes for the outside magazine all the way. If you’ve attended any of our races or events, you’ve probably seen him serve hundreds of meals to hungry cyclists, runners, and fans.
We thought it would be a great time to learn more about the resident chef at Outside and hear from him about what makes Outerverse an exciting opportunity for creators like him.
Finding a passion for food
I come from a really big family where food was such a big and important part of our daily life. We love to talk about food and we love to cook. I am from south India, as it is very coastal and jungle-like, and there is really rich agricultural land. We were surrounded by all kinds of fruits and vegetables. We have a meeting between the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and we serve great seafood. It is an area with all these diverse influences that go back to the ancient spice trade routes. The Greeks and Romans came through their food culture and left small portions of it, and later came the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the Belgians.
From very early on, you can find me in the kitchen helping my mother and grandmother to cook, or I will be on the farm, tending livestock or harvesting vegetables. Back then, if you wanted coffee in the morning, you had to go to the well, get water, come back, light a fire, and prepare hot water to make coffee. If we wanted to eat chicken, one of us had to catch a chicken, kill it, and clean it. This appreciation for ingredients, simple techniques, and especially live-fire cooking, continues to teach me how to cook today.
I am also inspired by the role food plays in bringing people together. In Indian culture – most ancient cultures from anywhere in the world, really – we have a history of eating together or eating in large groups, whether it’s a family or a community. I grew up in a family where you wouldn’t stress it out if 10 more people showed up for dinner. There were always guests attending, sometimes people just visiting family, sometimes people who needed a little help and a meal, and they were all welcome to join in and share the same food. It’s a really special gift and it has helped me a lot working in restaurants and catering for big events because I always know how to make things stretch.
The other thing in India is that everyone rides bikes. By the time I moved to the States, I had already ridden my bike everywhere for years. I was 10 years old, on the boat from India, and I was challenging the older kids in the new neighborhood with their BMX bikes to race me on the scooter I used on my paper trail.
Soon, I realized that if cycling was going to be a serious part of my life, I would need to cook for myself. That was in the early 80’s in Colorado. You can’t easily buy pre-made energy bars. I started making my own drink mixes and things like that, experimenting with ingredients that I could buy at my local Asian supermarket. The relationship between the food we eat and what we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally has become a source of fascination for me.
The meaning of performance
In 1995, I watched a clip of the Tour de France, and in the background, you can see a chef getting off a Motorola team bus. He’s wearing shorts and an apron and is holding this tray of food. I thought “Oh man, this guy looks great. I want to do this.”
At the time, it was not uncommon for athletes to work with chefs. One or two NBA or NFL star players might have someone prepared their food, but most of the team ate whatever they were served in the training facility’s cafeteria. But it just got stuck in my head and started convincing teams and athletes to let me cook for them. By 2009, I was working with Lance Armstrong. There was a lot of interest in Lance and that changed the rules of the game for me. I was the subject of a big magazine article, and that led to my first cookbook.
When I think about “performance” and how the right food can improve performance, yes, it can be for the elite athlete – but it really is for everyone. Maybe you’re Kristen Armstrong, the Olympic gold-medal cyclist you’ve worked with, a Denver Broncos player, or maybe you’re a bus driver. Whatever you do, nutrition and what you eat can make a difference. Small changes can have huge effects on how you feel, how you sleep, and the overall outcome of your entire day.
There’s a guy I met several years ago through a charity, and when we met he weighed about 150 pounds. He got one of my cookbooks and started cooking for himself for the first time. It made a huge difference in his life. He had the idea that cooking was too complicated for him, but he was able to look at the simple and friendly recipes in the book and start making his own. He’s in his 60s now and when I saw him recently he told me, “Dude, you’ve been able to maintain all that weight for the past 12 years because you helped me start cooking.”
What I’m doing is not a science and sports medicine superfood. They are just simple meals that provide what people need to do what they want to do. But this kind of thing is really cool and rewarding.
When I was a teenager in Colorado, the outside The magazine was something I remember. I’ve been reading about this whole world of outdoor adventures, many not far from where I live. My parents had six children and I don’t remember that we went on vacation at all, but because we were reading stories and seeing pictures in the outside We can get a glimpse of what it will be like. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, there wasn’t an endless library of online content, broadcast TV, or anything like that. If we want inspiration about the world outside of our immediate surroundings, we have magazines like the outsideAnd the National GeographicAnd the Respected– And when we weren’t reading, we were playing in the woods.
For kids who are growing up now, it’s very easy to have everything close at hand and stay inside and stare at the screens. And I worry about what that is doing to us as we are more and more cut off from real world experiences and adventures. And that’s part of the reason why I’m so excited to be involved in the Outerverse, because what we’re building is a kind of bridge between modern, tech-heavy life and something simpler, more beautiful, and connected to nature. It’s something that uses today’s tools and technology to encourage people to go out and get real-world experiences, informed by a legacy the outside.
As a chef and food content creator, my own contributions to the Outerverse will include things like NFTs that provide access to dinner parties and special events. Opportunities to meet in amazing and unexpected places, gather around a fire, and share special meals with people we might not normally meet or communicate with.
Outerverse and Web3 in general are all about empowering creators, and I think there are a lot of ways that intersect with food. In the food and hospitality business, of course, there isn’t always a lot of money to be made. When I started working in restaurants, I was also working in construction and doing other work on the side. Sometimes I worked in a restaurant for free so I could keep learning. Now, with NFTs, there are new ways for fans to provide financial support to the chefs and creators they love. And there are new ways for people to assert ownership of their own recipes and creativity and monetize that creativity, all of which may make this way more sustainable for people like me to pursue our passions and earn a living.