Why and How I Became a Chef

I didn’t always want to be a chef. For a long time, growing up, I would tell my parents I wanted to be a pediatrician. I wanted to help people, especially babies, and kids. That dream eventually morphed into my desire to follow in my Grandfather and Aunt’s footsteps to be a pharmacist. Realizing learning about medication wasn’t really my thing, I resolved to become a forensic investigator. That’s right, for about three years, I wanted to be a CSI. A far stretch from risotto and crème brulee.

I always loved to cook. There are pictures of me, no more than eight, standing on a stepstool over my grandparents’ stove cooking them fettucine alfredo- my favorite. However, It wasn’t until, after years of practicing martial arts, I went into black belt training at age 15, that food became a big part of my life.

Watching the Meat Your Meat video made me an immediate vegetarian- the only one in my family. As a black belt candidate, quickly learned (wo)man cannot live- or train- on pasta alone, and my interest in nutrition was born. I began cooking myself healthy, meat-free meals to support my training, but it wasn’t long before I realized my passion was in the kitchen.

Over that year, I gained strength in both my martial arts skills and culinary repertoire, earning my black belt in Okinawan Shorin Ryu at age 16, as well as the benefit of looking and feeling better than I ever had, eating a balanced plant-based diet. Lucky for me, my best friend had a similar passion for food as I did. We spent our weekends concocting recipes, trying new restaurants and poring over cookbooks. Our yearly summer trip to New York City soon revolved around food. n my eighteenth birthday, we found ourselves with reservations at the revered Nobu restaurant, a dream come true and also- the most important meal of my life.

I still remember that moment- the one where I took my first bite of the Miso Black Cod. How it melted in my mouth. I closed my eyes and shut off all other senses as I let the flavors come alive in my mouth. It was the best bite I had ever eaten. The bite that made me state, “I want to learn how to make food this good.” I knew from that moment, that was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make people speechless with flavor, that there was nothing more I wanted than to combine my passion for health and good food- and become a chef.

The year before, as I began the college application process, I considered going to culinary school. My family talked me out of it- convincing me I should pursue Nutrition, and then decide if I still wanted to cook for a living. I knew going into school that fall it wasn’t where I was meant to be.

But I attended the University majoring in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology. I loved learning, and I worked hard, earning a 4.0 my first three semesters. As much as I enjoyed learning about nutrition, something about the thought of sitting in an office all day, talking to clients made me uneasy. Not to mention the fact that I was struggling with being underweight, knowing very well that conventional nutrition was not something I wanted to preach to others. I started my blog in 2008 as a way of showcasing my adventures in the healthy kitchen.

My blog evolved, as did I. A summer studying abroad in Italy proved to be much more than a fun change of pace; the fresh Mediterranean cuisine inspired me to follow my passions. A healthy weight with a new outlook on eating whole, natural foods- instead of counting calories and fat grams, I began planning my escape. In 2010, I picked up and moved to the big city where I spent ten months earning an Honours degree in Culinary Management, with certificates in Culinary Arts and Personal Chef. My new blog has gained popularity over the years and opened the door for freelance work in both food writing and cooking. In school I realized my desire to focus my skills in healthy catering, instead of the harsh restaurant world. I now work as a Personal chef, Kitchen coach and part-time blogger, with big ambitions to spend my years teaching others, through food, that delicious holistic living is the way to go.

It took more than a few bumps in the road, disapproving comments from family and friends, and doubts that I would get where I am today. But I can proudly say, I have done everything I have wanted to do thus far, and I have no doubts any longer that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I always wanted to help people, and now I can. Following my passion has been the most important factor in my current happiness and becoming a chef is the single most beneficial thing I have done in my life, thus far.