The Guy

Lee Knaz

My name is Lee Knaz and I love food. 

I was born on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in a little village in Israel called Kibbutz Gan Shmuel (population 750).  The village centers around agriculture so from a very young age I was picking oranges on the citrus orchards, milking the homegrown cows and farming the local fish ponds.

As kids, my friends and I would sneak into different neighbor’s back yards to pick whichever fruit was staring at us at the appropriate season.  Oranges were plentiful as most of the land surrounding the village is occupied by citrus orchards.  The fruits we were after were the more exotic kind: figs, guavas, pomegranates, apricots, feijoas, loquats, pitango, cherimoyas, passion fruit and so many more.  We would go on what we, in true childhood fashion, would call Fruit Excursions.  That’s where I developed my undying love and infatuation with all fruits and vegetables.  That’s where I also learned to prepare a salad for breakfast.  Every single day; since I grew teeth, till this day.

Still, with all that abundance surrounding me, my favorite thing in the world which would get me excited beyond compare, was going to eat at a restaurant.  It didn’t have to be a fancy one (and it never really was), and it happen often, but when it did it would cause a rush of excitement that I remember vividly till this day.  Opening myself up to different foods, and through it introducing new cultures, was magical.  And it still is.

I spontaneously moved to the U.S. in 2006 and landed in Los Angeles, CA.  Working odd jobs at supermarkets, retail, bartending & construction to name a few, I made my way through business school.  Well… Almost.  I had a hiatus from school for 4 months of summer.  I lived in Venice Beach at the time.  There I started cooking.  My love for food as a consumer gave birth to my love for food as a producer.  That summer I cooked and cooked and cooked, feeding my roommates, neighbors and anyone else along the way.  Long story short, I did not graduate from business school.  I got hit with the cooking bug.  Hard. 

I came a long way since then.  From starting a catering company, through opening and operating restaurants and working as a private chef for affluent Hollywood families.  I came to understand the immense power that food holds; it can unite, bridge gaps, educate and enlighten.  And most importantly, it has the power to heal, both body and soul.  I came to the conclusion that there has got to be a way to reach people through food on a larger scale and with a more influential cause in mind.  After all, a restaurant can only send a message out to X amount of people every night depending on capacity.  A home cook can only reach the lucky few that are surround him.  I found frustration in those limitations.  In this case,  the frustration was a gift. 

And so was born The Mediterranean Diet Guy.  TMDG is the birth-child between my home village past with its mediterranean sea breeze doused in olive oil, together with my love and passion for the craft of food and cooking.  I combined the two and built the TMDG brand so I can dedicate all that is in me to help, show, excite and contribute to the best of my ability to the mission of healthy & delicious eating.

The Mediterranean

The Diet