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Archive for the ‘Living Light Culinary Institute’ Category

Raw Food Chef and Instructor Nina CurtisNina Curtis, Founder and President of The Nile Institute in West Hollywood, CA, has over 25 years experience in the professional personal care and wellness industry. She is a well-respected Holistic Esthetician, certified Natural Health Professional, certified Health and Wellness Coach, certified Health and Fitness Professional and now a certified Living Light Institute Associate Chef and Instructor.

Get to know Nina Curtis in Living Light’s Chef Spotlight.
Chef Experience: How did you get interested in raw foods?
Nina Curtis: My journey with raw food started 12 years ago. I was ready for something new in my life. I jumped in feet first, read every book available, took every class I could find, with the best of the best, throughout Los Angeles, attended potlucks, lectures and traveled miles to eat at raw food restaurants.

CE: Are you currently eating a raw food diet? If so, how long have you been eating raw foods?
NC: I am currently eating an 80/20 raw, vegan food diet, (80% raw, plant-based foods). Three years into my all raw food diet, my acupuncturist told me that my ‘earth’ element needed some warmth. Always, one to let the pendulum swing, I said, “What the heck?” I listened to him and began eating cooked grains and other cooked carbs… I now concentrate on being a ‘Conscious’ plant-based eater, as I don’t like ‘labels’ and I like to listen to what my body needs.

CE: How has raw foods changed your life?
NC: It’s made me realized the power behind the quote, “Let food be thy medicine”. I love trying as many new plant-based foods as I can get my hands on as variety is key with this food style!

CE: When did you know that you wanted to be a raw vegan chef?
NC: Once I realized that so many of my family, friends and clients where more interested in this way of eating and they trusted my experiences. I wanted to really be able to prepare gourmet meals that would appeal to all of their senses.

CE: How did you find out about Living Light Culinary Institute?
NC: Many of the people I took classes from early on in my journey had studied with Cherie Soria and that was before Living Light moved to Fort Bragg. I knew when the time was right I would attend Living Light as it is the premiere raw food culinary school of choice!

CE: When deciding on a school, what were the major factors that played a part in your decision? What were you looking for?
NC: The quality of training is key; I likened it to my decision to attend Pepperdine University for my MBA. I wanted to attend a school that was not only on the cutting edge, but could offer me ‘real’ time experience. I wanted personal attention to my specific needs and goals, and the success of previous graduates was also important to me. When I looked at what many of the graduates of the Living Light Culinary Institute were accomplishing, and so many are accomplishing great and exciting things, I knew this was where I wanted to attend school.

Another factor important to me was the emphasis put on chef and instructor skill sets. I am a business owner, teacher, writer and lecturer in the spa and wellness industry and my certification as a Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor, allows me to expand my business offerings in many innovative ways! I am working on a rebranding of my business and there are some very exciting things to come!

CE: What was your first week at the Living Light Culinary Institute like?
NC: It was fast paced, lots of learning and teaming up with people from all over the continent. There was no messing around! We jumped right in and started making all kinds of dishes. I loved it!

CE: What is your favorite dish that you have created so far?
NC: I really enjoyed so many dishes, but if I have to narrow it down to one, I would say it’s been the Mediterranean Dolmas as it’s a favorite food of mine.

Living Light Mediterranean mealCE: What was so special about this particular dish?
NC: I had pretty much given ‘traditional’ dolmas up as I did not want the rice it contained. When I saw that we were going to make it in class with zucchini as a rice replacement, I was a bit skeptical? I thought, let’s just leave well enough alone but I was pleasantly surprised that the mouthfeel of the zucchini was much like the rice. I’m enjoying making it at home, along with the savory zucchini hummus!

CE: Which Living Light courses are you most looking forward to taking? Why?
NC: Armed with the Living Light Culinary training that I currently have, I am really looking forward to attending the Gourmet series, especially the ‘Rawfusion Spa Cuisine’. This is right up my alley as I am in the spa industry and I will be able to offer this specialty to many spas across the globe. It fits so well with my current consulting and training services and I think more consumers and spas want to learn about this style of cuisine.

CE: What was your typical day at school like?
NC: I was up at about 5:30 a.m. each morning and I volunteered to work in the kitchen at 7:30 am before class started every chance I got (you learn so much by observing the management operations of the kitchen). Green smoothies were served at 8:45am and Instructor training commenced at 9 a.m. By 10 a.m. we started our demos and hands on, which continued all the way through to gastronomy and lunch. More demos and hands on after lunch with the day ending with gastronomy and facility management. Don’t think I’m done yet, as we had plenty of home work; reading, research and recipe development to complete. I think that the lights went out in my room on average by midnight. This program is not a vacation. What you put into it, you get out of it!

CE: What do you like most about attending Living Light?
NC: The team at Living Light, including the teachers, administrators and advisors are truly passionate about what they do and they are sincerely interested in each ‘student’s success. I was very impressed that Cherie Soria, the founder of Living Light, was very involved with our training when she was in town. She is truly the Mother of Raw Gourmet Cuisine, she taught classes, was very hands on in our development and she is a stickler for detail and perfection! I truly appreciated that. I feel that I have received a strong foundation to continue to build on.

CE: What is the most challenging?
NC: Having to leave until next time…

CE: Where do you see yourself after graduation from Living Light Culinary Institute?
NC: I am currently working on my business plan to include; offering lectures, workshops, writing and private and business consultation. I am ‘breaking where I am the strongest’, as they say, in the spa industry and then I plan to expand from there.

Nina Curtis at Living Light Culinary InstituteCE: What advice do you have for anyone thinking about a career in the raw foods?
NC: I think it’s important to identify your passion and be clear on what you want, not what others want of you. I love teaching, so my emphasis will be on teaching about the raw food lifestyle, through many different mediums.

CE: Do you have any exciting projects in the works?
NC: Yes, I am very excited as I will be speaking to a group of about 150 spa owners, directors, and estheticians on the benefits of a raw food, plant-based diet. I want people to really start thinking about beauty and wellness from the inside out and what that truly means? “You Are What You Eat” and “Eat Right for Your Skin Type” concepts. When I started my raw food journey 12 years ago, people looked at me with a ‘raised brow’, now some of those same people are interested with what I have to say, that’s exciting!

CE: Where do you see yourself five years from now and what path will you take to get there?
NC: I love to plan but I’ve also learned to stay open to the Universe. I have a lot of ideas which I look forward to bring to fruition such as authoring a couple of books, raw food travel and possibly a line of ‘skin food’.

I constantly remind myself that, “I’m not in a hurry for anything, but on time for everything!” ~Nina Curtis

The Nile Institute 620 1/2 North Doheny Drive West Hollywood, CA 90069 310-275-NILE (6453) http://www.styleseat.com/ninacurtis

 
If you would like further information on attending Living Light classes, please call an Enrollment Specialist at 707-964-2420

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Check out some of the fabulous raw vegan dishes from Living Light’s recent Gourmet Chef students.

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Living Light Gourmet graduateAfter working in the music entertainment industry for 14 years coordinating volunteer security and site crew operations, Natalie Cottrell switched careers and began working at the Noyo Food Forest Learning Garden as the volunteer coordinator. The availability of farm fresh produce helped Natalie decide to get back into her original passion—creating amazing food.  Natalie is working to bridge the gap between the local schools’ meal programs and the Community Support Agriculture.

Get to know Natalie Cottrell in Living Light’s Chef Spotlight.

Chef Experience: How did you get interested in raw foods?
Natalie Cottrell: I have always loved eating the fruits & veggies that my family either gathered or grew! Now I work at the local community garden, the “Noyo Food Forest Learning Garden” as the volunteer coordinator. The enthusiasm of everyone involved and the amazing availability of farm fresh veggies and fruits have helped me re-recognize my original passion- creating amazing food.

CE: How long has raw food been a part of your diet?
NC: I have always recognized the importance of eating raw, and I have always known that the rawest ingredients usually are indicative of the freshest and tastiest, and I am big on fresh!

CE: How has raw foods changed your life?
NC: Learning that there are a whole lot more options for vegetarian, vegan and raw meals has totally blown the roof off of my previous belief that salad is the usual raw meal. There are so many variations and original ideas that are exciting and healthy to boot! I can’t wait to teach my community how to recreate their favorite foods and genuinely improve their diets, and overall health!

CE: How did you find out about Living Light Culinary Institute?
NC: I live here in Fort Bragg, so when anything new comes our way, I look into it. I recall the locals wondering if this new “hippy dippy raw place” was going to make it. It only took one time for me to try the un-tuna sandwich and the sea palm salad- I was HOOKED!!! I turned all my friends onto the newest place in town!

CE: When deciding on a school, what were the major factors that played a part in your decision? What were you looking for?
NC: First and foremost is the location. Second, the price- a totally affordable and amazing education! But, truth be told, I am attending the Institute on a grant as part of the Mendocino Private Industry Counsel’s back to work retraining program. I was actually looking at the CIA in Napa Valley, but the cost was way too much for me in my current financial situation.

CE: What was your first week at the Living Light Culinary Institute like?
NC: Mind Blowing!!!!

Living Light Gourmet Student creation CE: What is your favorite dish that you have created so far?
NC: I really get excited about the recipes that are developed by us- the students, but I am loving the Mediterranean flavors that we are exploring…
Oh Goodness, and probably the lemon custard tarts…or the…

CE: What was so special about raw foods?
NC: Come on…food that tastes that awesome is not only raw but good for me too?

CE: Which Living Light courses are you most looking forward to taking? Why?
NC:  I am truly ready to take this (education) to the next level by attending the nutrition and the marketing courses. Perhaps some pastry arts…

CE: What is your typical day at school like?
NC: Challenging and exciting and yummy!!!

CE: What do you like most about attending Living Light?
NC:  A few things. The level of absolute professionalism is astounding. I am receiving an exciting education that will enable me to get into the fresh new world of eating raw! I am already being approached with job offers! The future looks very bright! The folks that run the place are great people, and not only to learn from and work around. I guess that the best thing I love about living Light is the way I feel from when I walk into the door, and later when I reflect on my day and what I learned- while I do my homework!

Living Light Gourmet Student creationCE: What is the most challenging?
NC:  Recipe development- but I did not come here to do stuff I knew how to do; I came here to learn and work! I want my skills to be razor sharp and on the cutting edge- some of these job offers are from people that are pretty progressive…that makes it even more of a fun challenge! Gotta keep up with the rest of the world!

CE: Where do you see yourself after graduation from Living Light Culinary Institute?
NC:  I haven’t decided on any one thing- my true calling is feeding people and sharing with them what there is here in Fort Bragg, as far as fresh food sources in our community. I have no doubts about being absolutely prepared though!

CE: What advice do you have for anyone thinking about a career in the raw food nutrition?
NC:  Living Light is a solid approach to the world of raw cuisine. Do it!

Living Light Culinary Gourmet GraduateCE: Where do you see yourself five years from now and what path will you take to get there?
NC: I will be an educator and chef, privately and with other chefs in assorted adventures. I will definitely be busy!

Natalie was born and raised in Fort Bragg, California.   She is a recent graduate of Living Light’s Gourmet Raw Food Chef Certification™.

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Over the next two months, Living Light will be taking its FUNdamentals class on the road. This class is the foundation of all our other classes – our flagship, as we like to call it. It’s absolutely packed with information about raw culinary arts and is designed to give anyone the base upon which to make a lifestyle change to whole, living, planet friendly foods. But is this base enough?

Most recently, we took FUNdamentals to San Diego where it was taught by two of our shining stars: Alicia Ojeda and Brenda Hinton. I spoke with one of our recent graduates, Kristen Johnson, about her experience both at the class in San Diego and how it led her to Living Light. Kristen grew up in San Diego, so she combined a trip to see her family with the opportunity to give Living Light a try. She and a friend attended the class and were impressed with both of the instructors’ knowledge and love for Living Light. Alicia brought the history to life while Brenda explained how the school works and what it can do for you. Both Kristen and her friend left the class with a kindled passion for raw foods – and Kristen with the intention to learn more.

Kristen is now a certified Associate Raw Food Chef and Instructor and Raw Pastry Chef. When she returned home to Brooklyn, New York after the FUNdamentals class, she got to work right away – putting her new knowledge into practice. But she knew she needed more. Her journey began at an “on the road” class, and in just a couple months’ time it included a Living Light certification. Fabulous!

Whether you’re as driven as Kristen or if you just want to get your feet wet, keep an eye on our website for a FUNdamentals class on a road near you. It’s a great way to get started and will send you home ready to do your own sprouting, juicing and more. And who knows – it may begin a raw culinary education that will change your life path forever.

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Sam Romano is a 21-year old from  Bartlett, IL a small town an hour outside of Chicago.   He is a recent graduate of Living Light’s Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor Training™. Sam has been a vegetarian for four years before he discovered the raw food lifestyle. After high school Sam dove into researching nutrition.  He discovered raw foods when he was a student at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and from there he decided he wanted a career as a Holistic Health Counselor.   He took a course at the Tree of Life and very quickly made the decision to take his culinary career to the next level by attending Living Light Culinary Institute. His goal is to open his own raw business selling high-quality raw food, super foods,   juices, smoothies and raw meals.

Get to know Sam Romano in Living Light’s Chef Spotlight.

Chef Experience: How did you get interested in raw foods at such a young age?
Sam Romano: It was really a long gradual process. In elementary school, my doctor said I had A.D.D. and gave me drugs to help me. After going through three different ones like Ritalin and Adderall, [they] made me dizzy and not talk. I never liked taking them and stopped very quickly. Then he said to stop eating Red dye 40, a food coloring, that I was consuming everyday, in High-C Fruit punch. After that I started reading all the labels on food I ate.

And in high school, my friend went to India, and came back a vegan, and showed me animal cruelty videos. and I was so shocked, and I became conscious that the meat on my plate was an animal that probably didn’t have a good life. So I was vegetarian for four years, and just this summer I started eating superfoods like hemp, spirulina, Goji, chlorella, cacao and that help me get off dairy and eggs and move towards becoming a nutritarian.

CE: What is a nutritarian?
SR: A nutritarian is someone who is on a nutrient dense diet, and only eats things that have beneficial vitamins and minerals.

CE: How long have you been eating raw food diet?
SR: I’ve been high raw for 10 months, since June 2011.  A lot of days 100%, sometimes I eat beans and good whole grains, sweet potato and acorn squash when they are in season.

CE: How has raw foods changed your life?
SR: It’s changed in so many ways. Everyday is so amazing, I feel so blessed and appreciate everything so much more, it really opened me up to spirituality, I can recall my memory so much better, mental clarity. I’m a lot stronger as an athlete and my endurance has gone up!!

CE: When did you know that you wanted to be a gourmet raw vegan chef?
SR: Well after high school, I just had to get out of my town, so me and my friend moved to California. Where I was a ski bum, I worked at Sierra at Tahoe Resort. Where I got over 120 days of snowboarding in. That’s when I realized how much money it cost to live the way I wanted to. So I moved back home and asked the universe what am I going to do for a career in my life. I asked for guidance, and I was on my computer everyday just looking up amazing facts on superfoods. When I found David Wolfe. He got me into raw foods and one day I was watching an interview with him and he mentioned the Tree of Life with Dr. Gabriel Cousens, and It looked so amazing I decided I wanted to go there. And that’s when it hit me that I should look into making raw foods and that I really wanted to spread the word as much as I possibly could.

CE: How did you find out about Living Light Culinary Institute?
SR: I just Google’d ‘raw culinary schools’ and searched through a couple and Living Light really stood out to me.

CE: When deciding on a school, what were the major factors that played a part in your decision? What were you looking for?
SR: The environment plays a big part. Fort Bragg looked like an amazing spot to me i love the out doors and Trees. and LL looked really professional. it looked legit. and at the same time relaxed, and chill. It was 100% organic. and they really are helpful to beginners.

CE:   What was your first week at the Living Light Culinary Institute like?
SR: They started you off slow but we got to see a lot of demos. and it was consistent. They really have the teaching schedule perfect and they know how to train people well.

CE: What is your favorite dish that you have created so far?
SR: I really loved the living lasagna.

CE: What was so special about this particular dish?
SR: It really had the cooked look, after putting the lasagna in the dehydrator the cheese started to turn golden.

CE: Which Living Light courses are you most looking forward to taking?
SR: Gourmet certification, and Pastry Unbaked.

CE: What is your typical day at school like?
SR:  Smoothies at 8:45.  Nine o’clock we discuss different topics then we go in and watch a demo, then we get to make what we just saw in the demo.

CE: What do you like most about attending Living Light?
SR:  I really enjoyed the instructors and the information and how you schedule the day. They’re jam-packed days.

CE: What is the most challenging?
SR: Talking in front of people.

CE: Where do you see yourself after graduation from Living Light Culinary Institute?
SR: I can see myself working at a raw restaurant in Chicago, making raw desserts for weddings and parties. Going to Korea to do demos, and eventually I want to open my own raw café.

CE: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
SR: Teaching people how to be raw. Doing demos and holding workshops, making some of the best raw foods.

CE: What advice do you have for anyone thinking about a career in the raw foods?
SR:  Keep it simple, get as much of your food local or start a garden and only support organic.

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Lucky girl am I to have had the opportunity to take Living Light’s Food Styling for Photography class with Cristina Archila.  The class is unique because its primary focus is on gourmet raw cuisine.  It is the first Living Light class I have taken since graduating the Gourmet Culinary program in 2010.    And I feel it is the most awesomely creative class to have experienced here at Living Light.  Well, maybe it’s a close second to the recipe development classes of Ethnic and RawFusion Spa Cuisine.     Either way you learn a lot of the tricks and techniques of the Food styling trade.  The class covers the equipment a food stylist uses, plating skills, how to use sauces as paint, using props to describe a recipe, how to the direct the eye’s flow to the image in the photograph and so much more.  My favorite tip I learned involved a potato and toothpicks.   You have to take the class to get that one.

You look at food differently as a food stylist than as a chef but the process for me is very similar. You aren’t necessarily worried if the food will taste good, because believe me; you would not want to eat food styling food.   Think of denture cream holding a cherry tomato in place on a bowl of lettuce.  Not too appetizing, but very effective.

As a chef, I am a HUGE planner.  I scour through cooked recipes to find just the right one to create a raw version and I take numerous notes and write and rewrite a recipe before I gather my mise en place and begin testing (and re-testing) in the kitchen.  All before I have a completed dish.

I was able to use the skills I had a chef during the Food Styling for Photography hands-on portion of the class, we had the opportunity to wear the food stylist hat.  My process was similar to that of my chef‘s chapeau. 

Below was my development in styling a raw pasta dish.

1. Use a prep chart to design my dish.

2.  Gather the ingredients (zucchini pasta, red sauce, pesto,  top secret ingredients used to create a white sauce) and equipment. 

3.  Paint the pasta.

4.  Add the garnishes.

5.  Photograph the finished dish.

This rapid-fire, one-day course was informative, fun and definitively stretched my creative muscles to the max.

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Check out some of the tasty appetizers from  Living Light’s current Associate Chef and Instructor students.  All beautifully styled by Cristina Archila.

Avocado Carpaccio with Sesame Lemon Dressing

Fresh Zucchini Roll with Creamy Cashew Sauce

Zucchini Cups with Creamy Rosemary Sauce

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