Food has always been an interest to me. I have memories of me as a little girl playing with Play-Doh to make cookies, making desserts with my small plastic oven, and having tea parties with my dolls, sisters, or friends. As I child, I loved to try new foods. As I got older, I also enjoyed helping my mom in the kitchen when she was letting me do so. Then, at 16 years old, my first real job was working in the restaurant of a retirement home. I loved it. Since then, I have always worked in restaurants and bars and eventually made my way up to beautiful hotels and restaurants. When I finished high school, I did my food service training as I wanted to have a nice job that I enjoyed doing that would pay for my studies later on. At 17 years old, I left home and went out on my own, renting my first apartment. What a great feeling it was. I was finally free.
During my teenage years, however, a lot happened. I started to develop eating disorders. I was going through so much and I was feeling a great deal of pain, anger, and resentment. It had much to do with my childhood. I always felt like I missed so much love and attention. My self-esteem also was very low. I ended up falling into a cycle that I never, ever thought would have happened to me. I became so obsessed with my weight and food and I got so sick – so sick to the point of needing to be hospitalized. Eating disorders are real and scary, and it’s something very hard to overcome, no matter how strong you are. When I realized my life was in danger, I remember telling myself that it was enough and time to do something to gain control of my life again. I went to get help but it didn’t work out. I wasn’t feeling understood, and it felt like a waste of time. I decided to learn through books on my own. I thought that by educating myself, I would learn how my body and mind worked and, that way, it would be easier to heal. I also became very interested in self-development. I knew I had work to do on myself to be able to heal and grow. This is how my journey in food and healing began. I was about 17 years old.
Then I kept working and studying. I tried college in both nursing and nutrition but realized it wasn’t for me. I was more fascinated about natural health. I then thought about studying in naturopathy or holistic nutrition. A few years went by and at 20 years old, something else happened that changed my life completely. I met the remarkable man who is my husband today. He was the most caring, gentle, generous and patient man I have ever met. Although I didn’t want a serious relationship at that time as I didn’t want any distractions in my life, he made me fall for him. We have a beautiful love story but long story short, we moved together and married three years later. He always says I saved him but I’m the one who thinks he saved me. Since the day I met him, everything has changed for the better.
Then, I became a stepmother of three beautiful children. Even though I had so much love to give and so many great intentions, it wasn’t always easy. I went from living alone at 20 years old to being married to a man with three children. However, it was great, and we made it work. I learned much along the way, and this is when I started to learn to cook for a family. I wasn’t very skilled at that time but I was trying my best to make healthy homemade meals for them. One of the children has special needs and requires a special diet, so there was also that part that needed to be taken into consideration. I was usually making two different meals or one meal with variations. It was a big change but got easier in time.
During that time, I was studying in natural health and nutrition – I only got into cooking a few years later. Studying was always something I enjoyed doing as I love to learn. I learned how food, herbs, supplements, and cleanses could rejuvenate and heal the body. I learned about bio-individuality and understood that there is no one-size-fits-all diet and that it doesn’t mean a food or a way of eating is good for someone that is good for all of us. I realized that the goal was to find what works for us. I also became aware of how the body, mind, and spirit were all connected and how important it was to nourish all three aspects in order to achieve good balance and optimum health. Most importantly, over time, I realized that life isn’t only about food, restriction, and control but also about fun, making memories, and enjoying the little things of life.
We moved to Southern California for a couple of years, and this is when I decided to enroll in culinary school. I had done a variety of health and nutrition programs and even went to a raw cooking school in California. I wanted to go to a more traditional school but one that was still aligned with my beliefs. I found one, enrolled and moved to New York City for a few months. I had a great time while there. By the end of the program, I found out I was pregnant. I finished the program, completed my internship, and then moved back home to start working on different projects while learning about pregnancy and everything related to babies. I wanted to do it right. Then, I had our son and we eventually moved back to Canada to a new house to be closer to the kids. I have been home since then to raise our son and take care of the family while working hard on my first cookbook.
Life is a journey, and we go through life the best we can with our strengths and weaknesses. Every situation we go through has something to teach us, no matter how troubling it can seem at times. Sometimes, it just takes time or openness to see it. Life is beautiful but not always easy. However, it’s because it’s not always easy that it makes life so beautiful.