What inspired you to get into health and wellness cooking?
The first time it clicked for me that food is medicine, I was 18 years old. For months I had NO energy, and looking back on my diet of cereal, frozen pizzas and fast food, it’s no wonder why. The doctor said, “No problem, take these supplements”. But the supplements made me sick, which only made the situation worse. I had to figure out a way to get my iron through food, so I started doing research. I found out spinach, broccoli, and lentils are all high in iron, so I made a soup highlighting those ingredients and ate that for about a week. I started having eggs, toast, and fresh fruit for breakfast in the morning instead of Lucky Charms. I stopped getting fast food for dinner and started learning how to cook for myself without cooking something from a box. It wasn’t long before I felt energized again. I was utterly amazed at the difference the right foods could make. I didn’t know it at the time, but this experience was the catalyst for my culinary career.
How did you end up being a personal chef?
I think I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be a personal chef. There is just something so much more satisfying about personally feeding people, versus sending out hundreds of plates in a night. Having a server come back to the kitchen and say, “whoever made that steak, my table said it was great” is nice, but having a client tell you themselves is one thousand times more rewarding. It’s even better to see them enjoy it. Before I was a Chef, I was a barista at Starbucks, and I had a few customers that would only stop by when they saw me working because no one could make their drink as tasty as I could. That was the first time I realized I actually had a knack for creating delicious flavors, and that I loved sharing my creations. Watching customers take that first sip, and almost literally seeing it warm their soul was an AHA! moment for me, and it was around I started thinking about going to culinary school and cooking professionally.
What is most rewarding to you about your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is someone telling me they feel better. In the restaurant world, we will occasionally be told our table liked the food, but that’s almost a hollow compliment in comparison to being told my food made someone feel good. I love the challenge of making delicious food that nourishes the body and being able to make a positive difference in somebody's life is incredibly rewarding.
How do you personally eat?
I try to eat as clean as possible, with a mostly plant-based diet. I do eat meat, but not every day, or even every week. Growing up I struggled with my weight and to this day, salty and sweet snacks call out to me like a siren in the night, but I’m better equipped now to tackle those cravings in healthier ways. My grandma used to say, “fruit is natures desert”, which, as a kid, I thought was total rubbish, but now it’s something I live by. I cut out soda, but I still allow myself my sweet coffee in the morning, and I try not to be too harsh on myself when I do make the unhealthy choices.
What type of diet/clients do you cook for?
I have the most experience with vegan, vegetarian, and keto diets, but I actually like to get clients outside that range because it pushes me to learn more, and ultimately be more creative with my cooking. I like to stay current with diet trends so that if a client ever asks me to cook a certain way, I already have a good idea of what they need. I love learning, so an opportunity to do some research is never a bad thing in my book.
What tips or advice would you give someone who is trying to eat healthier?
Don't be so hard on yourself when you make a mistake that you stop trying altogether. Also, keep in mind that by eating healthy you're not punishing yourself, but nourishing yourself. Feeding yourself foods that nourish you instead of foods that act to your detriment is an act of love, and if you think about it that way, it becomes a little more rewarding. Play around with spices and herbs, try as many new whole foods as you can, and practice slow eating. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so often we eat more than we should simply because we eat so fast. Slow down, enjoy whole foods, and practice self-love, that's my advice.
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A personal chef