I believe that our food nourishes us from the inside out. Our outer beauty, inner peace, and our physical, mental, and emotional health are all fueled by what we put into our bodies. I’m here to show you how delicious food can be healthy and healthy food can be delicious. So come join me on this food journey… let’s have fun in the kitchen creating something that tastes amazing and nourishes the mind, body and soul!
I value simplicity and integrity, so I use organic and locally sourced ingredients both at home and at the Source Cafe. I avoid GMOs and soy, and stay away from excess gluten and sugar. I always love to find the simple and natural, yet delicious and nutritious alternative to old favorites that anyone, especially those with dietary restrictions and health challenges, can enjoy. My cooking style typically fuses the beauty and simplicity of a Mediterranean diet with my own creative health-inspired twist.
My career in the restaurant business began when I was fourteen, spinning cotton candy in Atlanta, Georgia. By the time I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, I knew that being creative in the kitchen was my passion. So after college, I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, to begin my culinary training and I fell in love with the simplicity and passion of Southern Italian cuisine. I worked under an extremely talented chef and ultimately was asked to move to Hermosa Beach, California to be the executive chef at his new restaurant, Mediterraneo. For almost ten years my business partner and I ran that restaurant successfully with no shortage of business and life lessons. During that time, I went to Sorrento, Italy, where I cooked, studied, and cultivated a deep love for travel and an intricate appreciation for local cuisine. Each location’s food dialect sparked new excitement in me! In San Sebastian, Spain, I was enchanted again, this time by Basque food and culture. It wasn’t until my last year or so at Mediterraneo that I discovered the deep healing powers of food.
My body was beat up and worn out after working as a chef for 15 years. I worked crazy long hours on my feet, without understanding the dangerous consequences of a constant state of high stress, limited sleep, and high expectations. Not caring for myself properly turned out to be toxic for my mind and body. The first sign was my extreme hip pain.; and at age 35 I had a hip scope surgery on my left hip, hoping I could find another way to deal with the right one. Later that year, I spent time at a detoxifying spiritual retreat center where I gained perspective that changed my life. I began to understand how food, the thing I loved to create, could be my medicine. The irony was that my lifestyle as a chef is what beat me up in the first place. And now I had to figure out how being a chef was going to fix it too. Could I create a life that was balanced, healing, and nurturing while working in this crazy business? I was determined to learn everything I could about the healing properties of food and turn my life around immediately. I created my signature turmeric tonic and drank it daily to reduce the inflammation in my hips and the rest of my body. I started talking to anyone who would listen about everything I was learning, and soon, I knew I would have to leave Mediterraneo. I began dreaming of opening a healthy cafe with a unique chef-driven menu that helped people in any situation use food for healing. My neighbor was looking to sell her coffee shop, and one day I awoke hazy from a nap, walked outside, and told her I wanted to buy it – – and the Source was born!
Opening the Source was exciting, but I would be telling you a big lie if I said it lowered my stress level. Things got worse for me when I became a small business owner. Even with a healthy diet, working that hard had a price and I blew out my adrenals out from all the stress. It turns out a clean and conscious diet won’t fix everything. That’s when I began to realize that as much as I exercised, meditated, ate healthy superfoods, practiced yoga, and wrote my gratitude lists, something still wasn’t adding up… because I wasn’t healthy. I’m discovering that for me, being healthy comes from a balanced life.
The Source is four years old now and my incredible team allows me to take a small step back from daily operations. I am excited that I can now focus on sharing my journey with you: through the cookbook I’m writing with my friend Chef Taji Marie, my cooking classes, and this blog where I get to write and connect directly to you.
The journey I’m on now is one of balance. It’s about sharing the healing properties of food and about what self-love really means. It’s not always about getting a massage after a long day, although that’s a good one! Sometimes it’s about planning ahead so a long day doesn’t exhaust me, saying no to things that don’t light me up with joy, breathing, or being still. Sometimes it’s about dropping my ego’s agenda and showering someone who’s pushing my buttons with tons of love and compassion. I’m still finding out all the ways to love and care for myself. I hope you enjoy being on this journey with me as I explore balance through food and self love.