Archive for June, 2012

Wednesday Guest Blogger: Freelance Illustrator & Figure Athlete, Alejandra Diaz Mercado Chavez

Creative entrepreneur, freelance illustrator, creative director, lifestyle and business coach, personal trainer and amateur figure athlete, Alejandra Diaz Mercado Chavez

Phew, that was a long title! But I’ve got to cover it all with this busy and talented lady. Alejandra pretty much does it all –  so of course I had to feature her as this week’s guest blogger! Ale is another ol’ Sheridan pal, and I have always admired her whimsical illustration work. I noticed recently that she had taken a new creative path, however… all these photos of her stunning bod, which is a masterpiece of it’s own, kept popping up in my Facebook feed! And I was like, WHO THE HECK – OMG IT’S ALE!!! I couldn’t help be inspired by her incredible new feat – and her ability to mange both illustration and a fitness career, is really just remarkable. You know how I love awesomely motivated and dedicated ladies! I’m excited to share her beautiful work – both on canvas and her physical self. Enjoy 🙂

nerdbiskit: So, what’s the story? Who are you, and what do you do? How did it all start? Short bio!

Ale: Long story short: my real name is Alejandra Diaz Mercado Chavez (which not a lot of people can pronounce properly), I am originally from Mexico City and I lift heavy weights and art brushes.

It all started when I was born into a family with an overdeveloped artistic talent on my mother’s side, and an array of outstanding physical abilities on my fathers side. Arising from this unnatural combination of traits I’ve had to develop a split personality in order to nurture both sides of my brain.

In 2003 I came to Canada to study art as a business practice and graduated from the Bachelor of Applied Arts Illustration from Sheridan College. Since then, my life has been defined by continuous change where the only constants have been art and fitness. I started exploring the corporate world of art and design where I had a couple of very bad work experiences. These resulted in a very dark period in my life where I became overweight and depressed. I will always be thankful to the person that decided to see my true beauty and propose me to do my first fitness show, because thanks to her I am where I am right now.

I am currently exploring the corporate world of fitness working as a full time personal trainer and running my illustration freelance business part-time. Interestingly the more success I have as a personal trainer, the better I do at my art business as well.

Even though I am originally from Mexico I do not like tequila, I do not like Salsa dancing and no, and trust me, I do not miss the heat.

Image copyright Alejandra Diaz Mercado Chavez 2012.

nerdbiskit: Why do you do it?

Ale: I do what I do, because I do not imagine any other way of living my life. I refuse to do things that I don’t like or that I do not feel passionate about and I refuse to die with regrets.

Image copyright Alejandra Diaz Mercado Chavez 2012.

nerdbiskit: What’s unique about you and what you do? What sets you apart from the pack?

Ale: What is unique about me is the fact that I have to live two separate lives (although not a lot of people know about this), like I said before in one life I literally kick people’s butts all day long as a personal trainer and act as an amateur figure fitness model, all this with a big sociable smile on my face and on the other life I am a true antisocial hermit where I sit for long lonely hours in my art studio weaving dreams and materials to bring into this world things that only exist in my mind.

When I say “I have to live to separate lives” I mean it. I have tried to give up one or the other and I always end up in heart break. It’s like being in love with two people and not able to decide for one or the other.

At some points in my life one takes precedence over the other, but both have to be a part of my life in one way or the other.

nerdbiskit: What/who is your inspiration?

Ale: I am inspired by the mysticism and humour of mexican art. I approach art through the innocent and naive eyes of a child who marvels from fantastic details that adults typically overlook.

My current favourite artists are Nicoletta Ceccoli, Joe Vaux, Dave McKean and Alyssa DeVille.

Image copyright Alejandra Diaz Mercado Chavez 2012.

nerdbiskit: What are some of your favourite things? (To do, to eat, to think about, etc.)

Ale: My favourite things to do are causing myself serious pain by lifting heavy weights and preparing for 6 months for Figure Shows where I am only 6 minutes on stage. I love food above everything else, and by this I truly mean everything else, including sex, but I also give it up when I am preparing for fitness shows. Among my favourites are peperoni pizza, all you can eat sushi, and towers of husband-made pancakes topped with bacon.

I love to make To-Do lists, half of which never get done, love the idea of books more than reading them and love Apocalyptic movies and tv series.

And of course my most favourite thing/person in the whole world is my HUSBAND, just thought it was about time he knew this, hahaha

nerdbiskit: How do you know Lisa Bell of nerdbiskit? Do you think her mustache obsession is a little ridiculous?

Ale: Went to school with her, she caught my attention when I noticed she was a little strange. She had a doll-like beauty to her and her sense of style definitely set her apart from the crowd. I also noticed that her strangeness later developed into obsessive mustache behavior, which I have been secretly following through her social media. I also thought it was fair for her to know this by now, hehe

nerdbiskit: That about wraps it up!

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Wednesday Guest Blogger: Chef Nick Pantchev

Chef Nick Pantchev

I probably don’t talk about it often enough, but I really love food! I LOVE FOOD. I love kitties, tea, mustaches, dresses, crafting, wine… AND FOOD! Unfortunately, I am not an awesome cook. I’m pretty damn good with the prep work, but I need someone else to do the actual cooking. Especially meat. I am paranoid about under-cooking meat. I also suck at baking… anyway, I love to try and at least make a decent attempt at cooking, but I am fascinated by people who are actually amazing at it – hence this week’s guest blogger: chef and wine connoisseur, Mr. Pantchev! Not only is Nick a talented food-making-machine, he also loves cats and mustaches, which is pretty okay by me. He is also a fellow Sheridan Illustration kid, so I am most likely a little biased. Anyway, as soon as he opens his own restaurant, I will be first in line to try it out! Enjoy! 😀

nerdbiskit: So, what’s the story? Who are you, and what do you do? How did it all start? Short bio!

Nick: I’m Nick Pantchev, an up and coming chef in the GTA. Was born in Bulgaria and moved around Canada and the US until Ontario became my home. I guess it all started by doing jobs just to pay my living expenses – then cooking got to a point where I could make a decent living out of it.

nerdbiskit: Why do you do it?

Nick: I get to play with food and make my own menus. Working with other industry professionals is like a secret club or more like an awesome pirate crew. You always learn something new in this industry. Subconsciously, I’m probably a masochist with all the hours I’ve dedicated to it.

nerdbiskit: What’s unique about you and what you do? What sets you apart from the pack?

Nick: I specialize in French and French/Asian fusion cooking, but not limited to that. What’s unique about me is style and the way I execute food. I constantly refine and deconstruct what I know. Aside from graduating from culinary top in my year, I also completed 2 years of Illustration at Sheridan College (in Oakville, ON.) This in itself gave me a stronger understanding of design and composition on a plate. I’m certified in tasting and pairing wines. I recently completed three months at a five star hotel, Crillon le Brave, as chef de partie in the South of France – this achievement has opened many doors in my career.

nerdbiskit: What/who is your inspiration?

Nick: A broad spectrum of things, there’s chefs like Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal and Anthony Bourdain. Then there’s things like looking at architecture or street art, you see elements of design that make you think, “How can I put that on a plate?” Toronto food missions have been a great inspiration – with such an eclectic range of cuisine, it’s a great way to stimulate your palate or read up on dishes you’re not familiar with.


nerdbiskit: What are some of your favourite things? (To do, to eat, to think about, etc.)

Nick: I try to have a physically active lifestyle so I usually like to hit the gym, skateboard or go paint-balling. Other than that, chilling out with friends, enjoying a good bottle of wine, or on an uneventful night hanging with my cat and catching up on TV series or reading.

nerdbiskit: How do you know Lisa Bell of nerdbiskit? Do you think her mustache obsession is a little ridiculous?

Nick: I know Lisa from Sheridan and we just reconnected after all these years. Is her mustache obsession ridiculous? Not at all – although, I’m kind of nervous to grow one around her, eye contact would just shift on my heavenly man whiskers.

nerdbiskit: That about wraps it up! Feel free to creep Nick and his cooking escapades via his Facebook page.

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WEDNESDAY GUEST BLOGGER: Musician and Bass-guitar Instructor, James Rooke

Session Musician and Bass-guitar Instructor, James Rooke

Finally, another male guest blogger! And he’s a musician! Who doesn’t love a cool dude in a band? How exciting! (Well, at least for me… hopefully for you, too.) I am pleased to welcome James as this week’s guest blogger! Him and I have had some pretty good chats about self-employment, the desire for world domination, and of course mustaches. His determination and dedication to his music is definitely inspiring – and he’s pretty awesome at what he does too, which is a plus! I have not yet seen him live in action, but promise to one day. And you should too! Check out his website to see who he’s touring with and when… I’ll do the same 🙂 Enjoy!

nerdbiskit: So, what’s the story? Who are you, and what do you do? How did it all start? Short bio!

James: I’m James Rooke (a.k.a Modern Era Pirate): Ottawa-based session musician and bass-guitar instructor. I started playing music in Grade 7. I quickly became a hardcore band geek! I couldn’t escape my love of music. My focus eventually switched from formal school-related ensembles to indie music. At the moment, I tour internationally and record with a variety of groups/artists/genres.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS – listen while you read on 🙂

Melody for Grandma (1923 Piano)

JW-Jones LIVE at the Savoy Theatre (Bordesholm, Germany)

Grand Motel – May (offical music video)

nerdbiskit: Why do you do it?

James: It makes me sad when someone can play music but chooses not to. It’s also out of my control I think – my passion is too strong. Music has been the most important thing in my life for over 15 years now! There’s a universal, timeless connection people have with music and rhythm. There’s so much complexity and yet so much simplicity.

nerdbiskit: What’s unique about you and what you do? What sets you apart from the pack?

James: There seems to be a general lack of bassists in society, hah. Trying to play music professionally is a vicious competition! It’s hard enough for a band to stand out against another band let alone the sub-level of musicians trying to compete for a spot within those groups. My “fight” is way easier than a guitarist. Playing with multiple groups also puts my “eggs in lots of baskets.”

I also have a well-rounded understanding of music. Learning classical music formally throughout school gave me a head start; Practice discipline, performance experience, theory knowledge – all transferable to my day-to-day life now.

nerdbiskit: What/who is your inspiration?

James: Inspiration is everywhere! I’m just trying to absorb as much of it as I can by studying other bassists, watching my friends perform, jamming with friends, an energized audience, playing along with my favourite albums at home, learning a variety of genres, having creative conversations, travelling, enjoying the beautiful Ottawa summer… inspiration is everywhere!

nerdbiskit: What are some of your favourite things? (To do, to eat, to think about, etc.)

James: Music is incredibly encapsulating – I’m not big on TV, video games, sports, reading, etc. It’s my job, my leisure activity, my passion, my social activity, my hobby. Although, I haven’t found a way to eat music… yet.

I love using my slow-cooker, not for stews but for ribs, roasts and various other meats in large portions. I can also turn any conversation topic into a Simpsons reference. I like photography. I used to use a dark-room and all analog techniques. Now I have an iphone and some apps. The joys of technology…

nerdbiskit: How do you know Lisa Bell of nerdbiskit? Do you think her mustache obsession is a little ridiculous?

James: I know Lisa of nerdbiskit fame through my cousin (another crafter: SparkleGirl). I wouldn’t call her MO obsession ridiculous. I know a lot of people who dig mustaches. What separates Lisa is her desire to always wear a MO! It confuses me sexually…

nerdbiskit: That about wraps it up! Follow James on his musical ventures via the links below:

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