At the end of one of the macrobiotic seminars I took at the Kushi Institute, all of the students had to get up in front of the class and express their vision—what they wanted to do with the education they'd just received. I listened as my classmates got up and expressed their desires to be a macrobiotic counselor, open a restaurant or educational center or be a personal chef.
Try as I might, I just couldn't seem to pin down a goal or vision that ignited my passion. The one thing that kept popping into my mind is, "I want to be able to do the splits!" My turn came around and up I got and out it came, met of course with the expected response: laughter.
I went on to explain that in our daily yoga classes, which were part of the course, I experienced some physical limitations. As we move through life and go through the aging process, we can come to accept these limitations as a natural part of this process, and many of us don't really make an effort to move beyond them.
I will confess that after all these years, I still have a way to go toward being agile enough to do the splits, but in my life, I'm constantly reaching for new levels of freedom, be it physical, mental, emotional or creative. It's this passion that keeps me moving forward and opens me to new and interesting experiences in my life and work. I discovered at a young age that it's in the kitchen I can really let this sense of freedom and creativity take expression, with some very obvious benefits.
The fact that I've ended up being a chef is a consequence, not a goal—it's the result of following my passion to be healthy, free and happy. Being a chef has taken me into people's lives in a truly lovely way—I get to be in the heartbeat of the home, the place where the alchemy that can support people in living healthier, more productive lives takes place.
"Professional chef" is not a hat I comfortably wear, as it has never been my goal or vision. It's how my creativity is being expressed and it's a process that's constantly evolving. In a couple of years, it may be taking a completely different expression. In the back of my mind, I have a long "to-do" list, which will take me much more than one lifetime to accomplish. By the time I turn 85, I may be ready to sign up for my first ballet lesson and finally achieve my goal of doing the splits!
I get to be in control of my own health, happiness and well being.
I get to support others in living healthier lives.
I can exercise my creative spirit and I have a wonderful, varied, colorful and delicious palette to create with.
I am my own boss—even though I have employers, they always allow me free rein in the kitchen.
I get paid to indulge every day in doing what I love and something I would be doing anyway.
I get to cross boundaries and explore cultures in a most interesting way—through their foods.
I never feel like I've finished learning, even after 35 years. Cooking is a constantly evolving art form and there's always so much more to learn and explore—I feel like I'm just scratching the surface.
I get to have a relationship with where my nourishment comes from through sourcing ingredients, meeting food producers and, when possible, planting my own foods. I travel so much with my work that it's still down there on my to-do list to create my own organic farm!
In my work with clients, I often get to prepare food for children, and I love to get them involved in the creative process and find ways to get them excited about eating in a better way.
Food is a wonderful form of non-verbal communication. When you're cooking for someone, you're offering them love and nourishment, and there has to be a level of trust that is not often achieved in other ways.
Last but not least, the marriage proposals keep on rolling in. I'd like to think that it's because I'm just so gorgeous, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it has much more to do with how I look in an apron!
Since we're on the subject of food and love, today I'm bringing you my Seductive Salmon with Rainbow Salsa, from the "Food For Love" chapter of my cookbook Recipes to Nurture.
This dish brings color, texture and flavor together in a most delightful way and I hope it will inspire you to let your creative spirit out to play! I like to serve it up with a light grain—like couscous or aromatic jasmine rice—and a green vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or green beans.