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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

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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Today is  graduation day and it is such a special day. Although I’m looking forward to going home to see my family and friends, I’m finding it hard to say goodbye to all of my new Living Light family. Most of the students are feeling emotional in a beautiful way. We are all going home with our heads filled with new ideas and we’re excited to try the many new things we’ve learned. At the same time we’re grateful for the memories we’ll keep in our hearts forever, and we all feel just a little bit sad to be separating from new found friends. Graduation is a beautiful and touching time for all of the students, and the graduation cake was THE BEST EVER¨*•.¸¸☼  It took us all to another dimension, and the recipe was all organic + RAW with a most important secret ingredient: lots and lots of LOVE!graduation cake

Yuka – from Japan – living in Australia

I heard about raw foods from one of my Yoga students. I’ve had an amazing time here at Living Light, and especially loved all of the hands on experience!

Ophelia – from Hong Kong

I was not raw or vegan before I came to Living Light but I decided to give myself this trip for my 48th birthday. I’ve loved this trip. It’s been the most memorable in my life and I will miss everyone so much.

Hristina – from Bulgaria

A very close friend of mine cured herself from leukemia about 2 years ago and told me that the miracle that helped her do it was eating raw food. This completely changed my life for good. I started making more raw food meals at home, using every opportunity to learn more from books, TV shows, and the internet. Living Light is the greatest experience I’ve had in my life. I just love everything here.

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So I’m back at Living Light this week and the next, shadowing Jennifer Cornbleet and learning to teach Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor Training (which we commonly call “Associate Chef” or just “Chef”). 

I’m really enjoying reconnecting with so many of my favorite and beloved staff at Living Light and meeting the new students and future chefs.   This really interesting thing happened when I was assisting Jenny while she was teaching a demonstration on how to make Not-Tuna Pâté.  I found my mouth salivating and my eyes glazing over as I looked on lustfully at this food.  It’s true that this is one of my favorite recipes, but that was a very odd reaction to something that I’ve made a thousand times.   Later on I found myself getting very excited about bloomed wild rice.  As I went through my various daily tasks I searched to for the roots of this odd enthusiasm.  In the last month or so I’ve been busy, very busy!  In fact, between work, moving and the holidays I haven’t had much play time in the kitchen.  As I’m thinking about this, I’m looking back at the food that I’ve been making lately and I think I’ve been in a rut.  My salads have basically consisted of the same 5 ingredients, and last week I made the same soup 3 nights!  It’s no wonder that I’m drooling over something new!

It’s good to be inspired!  I can’t wait to get home and get cookin’!

First thing I’ll make?  I think I’ll start with some Not-Tuna Pâté!

For those of you interested above is a video of Jenny teaching this recipe on youtube.

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