My first experience in the kitchen was with my Grandma Merle. Merle hails from Virginia and cooks traditional, southern-style soul food on her farm. Her passion would fuel my own culinary journey to New York City. I’d work my way through kitchens, cooking everything from ten-course tasting menus to rustic farm-to-table cuisine. I eventually landed a Head Chef position at veteran restaurateur Bill Gilroy’s Macao Trading Company. My menu there comprised a combination of Chinese favorites like dumplings, fried rice, and wok-style noodles with Portuguese classics such as wild mushroom croquettes and bacalao cakes.
I took frequent trips to upstate New York, and it was there that I visited organic farms for the first time. I met Madalyn Warren and her mother Ji, whose East Branch Farms sold organic vegetables and creative variations of Kimchi at their farmstand. They had a separate garden where Ji grew her favorite Korean leafy greens and Madeline collected wild watercress alongside a nearby creek. My cooking would change forever after working just one day on their farm. I suddenly had the desire to not waste one bit of food after I saw how much work it took to grow it. Today I spend time on farms whenever I can to remind myself of how much effort farming involves.
In 2015, my career as a chef was right on track and I was very pleased with what I had accomplished. But something was missing. I received health coach certification from The Institute of Integrated Nutrition in New York as my interest in nutrition and wellness began to grow. I wanted to challenge myself to create more than just an experience of other-worldly flavor with food. In 2016, I relocated to Los Angeles where I spent a year practicing plant-based cooking at The Springs. As I learned more about plant-based nutrition, I wanted to share the benefits I experienced with others, (not least of which was the marked difference in the way the food I ate tasted!). I wanted to improve people’s health, using food to change old, unhealthy habits and evolve their palate. I saw how exposure to new flavors and textures could reroute cravings from unhealthy foods to those that are wholesome and nutritious. I discovered that becoming a personal chef was a way in which I could work with people on a one-on-one basis, implementing dietary changes and improving overall health. Demanding schedules and busy households make it hard to maintain an ideal diet. As a personal chef, I’m able to provide clients the delicious healthy food for which a lack of free time often does not allow.
I like to keep things simple. In light of the overabundance of information out there about healthy eating, I’ve devised a little saying to keep things uncomplicated: Eat the good stuff, remove the bad stuff, and don’t be afraid to change what you need to along the way.
Services include: intimate events catering, personal chef, retreat chef, group classes, consultant, meal planner, and health coach.