Aine McAteer
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!

Learn why Aine truly loves to cook.