Food studies student Ethan Tyo publishes a book on plant-based food

A health entrepreneur, an indigenous human rights advocate and a social media planner. These are some of the tags that Ethan Tyo received over the past few years that he has been involved in the Syracuse community. But this time, he decided to go with the title of a food storyteller.
Ethan Tyo is holding the Fetagetaboutit book
Tyo with his book at an autographing session at the LaunchPad at Bird Library.

Tyo, with help from some friends, just published his first cookbook, “Fetagetaboutit,” in February.

This is his first project as a Food Studies graduate student at Falk College, which took almost two years for him to finish the adventure. Nevertheless, his interests in food and lifestyle have been with him for a long time.

During his undergraduate time at SU’s School of Information Studies, Tyo realized that he had a strong interest in food since 2015 when he was studying abroad in London. He experienced a huge weight loss there and changed to a plant-based diet as a matter of interest. Eventually, he was exposed to “a whole new world of color” and started exploring the journey with food through a different perspective toward understanding the importance of nutrition and lifestyle, he said.

Back then, Tyo was also active on social media platforms and had worked with several global entrepreneurs and food companies to create content and do content planning. Nevertheless, he was not motivated in these works but really hoped to start his own project someday.

“I spent the break between undergrad and grad time trying to think about how I (could) approach the stuff that I was interested in via social media after going through a lot of personal stuff and personal growth,” Tyo said. “And so, I dropped off social media because I really wanted to focus more on, how am I going to approach sharing my work and how I want to shape my career.”

With a strong interest in food and a willingness to promote a healthy lifestyle, Tyo decided to pursue his graduate degree. At Falk College, he said that he can really focus on food systems on a larger scale and see the implications that food has on people. Moreover, he is also eager to dig into the history of food because the food systems have developed and released in such a “fascinating way.”

“I wanted to be someone who creates content that was valuable and something that people would use to help better themselves with,” Tyo said, after working in the field of media for several years. “This cookbook is a way to kind of taking a step toward (solving the puzzle) of ‘I don’t know how to cook, what to eat or even where to start’ when people don’t want to sustain themselves on eating out all the time.”

To Tyo, he perceives this book as a foundational ground for people to be like “Hey, here are some simple recipes and ingredients for plant-based food,” so that people can know where to get them and what to look for in the kitchen.

Divided into different sections, including breakfast, entrees, snacks, and drinks, the book tells the story of Beatmaster Bobby Slay, star chef by day and master DJ by night, as well as his recipes. More notably, besides teaching people how to cook, the book also aims at educating people to eat plant-rich meals and reduce food waste, Tyo said.

And that is about sustainability, something that this cookbook hopes to highlight. It provides readers with tips and tricks not only on grocery shopping and produce storage but also on effectively using food scraps in composting or recipes, the “Happy, Probably” website reads.

Tyo also wants to thank his colleagues for working on this book with him: SU alum Kyle Blaha G’17 brought him a fun, satirical twist to the traditional cookbook with short stories on Bobby’s adventures, meal plans (playlists), and the overall voice of Bobby. The book tries to cover all the essentials that a plant-based kitchen needs to get started. Each recipe also has a song accompaniment so that people can listen when they are cooking or eating. Laura Markley — the graphic designer and a current Ph.D. student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program — also offered minimal-waste guides and tips.

He will be working with the LaunchPad and other campus partners on the rollout of the book. For Tyo, this cookbook is not the end of his journey with food. It is more like the starting point for him to keep pursuing this career and discovering more about food and, more importantly, the culture and self-identification that lie behind it.

“In my next project, I really want to focus more on my cultural movements and bring them back to this aspect of how I integrate my own cultural understanding and cultural knowledge growth through the work that I do,” Tyo said.

He has been a mentor to other LaunchPad student entrepreneurs working in the creative space and in the food sector and will be a judge for the upcoming Hult Prize with its theme, “Food for Good.” His book will be added to the LaunchPad’s innovation and entrepreneurship collection at SU Libraries in both print and digital versions.

~ A Blackstone LaunchPad story by Kaizhao Zero Lin ‘21, LaunchPad Global Fellow.