A Kitchen Adventure in California
If you’ve been paying attention to my blog posts these last few months you may have noticed many references to San Francisco and California. Well – I have a a little something to confess. As well as exploring the good life in California I’ve been completing a Natural Chef Certification at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Berkeley (not far from San Francisco). Quite a change from my previous life as Projects Director of the Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment in London, right? Probably one of the bravest/maddest decisions of my life, but right now I can’t imagine not having experienced this incredible journey. A journey that allowed me to spend 6 months living in & exploring Northern California, which would allow me to pursue my goal to make my passion for healthy food my living when I returned to London. I wonder now, why it took me so long to decide to take the plunge and go for it.
My time in California was a whirlwind. Studying at Bauman was a life changing experience, but so was everything that goes with living in a new city, and a new country where I barely knew a soul; The adventures, the chance to take a step away from my previous daily grind, the constant stepping outside of ones own comfort zone, the inner confidence I had to find from somewhere within to get through that, the chance to get into yoga – big time, and most notably the chance to meet so many fabulous and inspirational people.
So what is a Natural Chef?
‘A chef that puts S.O.U.L. at the heart of cookery, and specialises in therapeutic cooking’
S.O.U.L. is an acronym for Seasonal, Organic, Unrefined & Local and was the focus of everything we cooked at Bauman. Our course started as any professional chef course would with the foundations of cookery. After the essentials of knife skills, stocks and sauces this even stretched to include a whole 3 days on gluten free baking – heaven! We then moved through nutritional foundations (Bauman has an incredibly individualised and flexitarian Eating for Health model), international cuisine, farm to table, business planning, and the best part for me – the detailed specifics of nutritional therapeutic cooking (cooking to support people through certain health conditions, illness and recovery). This unique therapeutic aspect distinguished Bauman from any professional cooking course that I could have taken in the UK and what ultimately drove me to move 1000’s of miles across the Atlantic for 6 months.
Cooking with S.O.U.L foods in the farming foodie heaven of California was pure delight. Contrary to popular belief that the tech or film industries are California’s biggest export I was interested to discover the prize goes to agriculture. The Mediterranean-like climate and lush soils make growing almost anything possible and that’s what Californians do. My only frustrations – and daily they were too – was the metric weighing system (pounds and ounces, cups, quarts and gallons), ovens that work in Fahrenheit and what felt like an ever increasing alternative food vocabulary list which I had to get to grips with or else no one would understand me. Essential work for me, since the locals already had enough trouble with my British accent, and also my Celtic Welsh name which defies the laws of English language pronunciation rules (In case you aren’t aware Ceri is pronounced Kerry – not Seri, Carrie or even Harry).
As well as learning an incredible amount from our inspiring holistic chef instructors I also learnt a tonne from my student chef peers – each of us having given up a great deal to study at Bauman to commence tackling our individual ambitions and journeys. I am sure my peers will all achieve success in their new chapters. Many of them are now life long friends.
I could, of course write my 6 month story all on this page, but…. instead I’ll be creating a series of blog posts ‘San Francisco Friday’ where I shall be writing all about my time in California; my chef training, the food – both cooked by me and sampled in restaurants, and general ditties about a healthy foodie Brit living in America. I’m also sure many Californian inspired recipes will be littering my pages – with locally sourced British food of course.
I arrived back in London today, and I’m so unbelievably excited to be starting this new chapter of my life. I am not 100% certain what exactly lies ahead – but I know that wholesome, natural cooking will be a big part of it. I’d love to develop my work on this blog as a writer and recipe developer, teach what I have learn through public cooking classes and get some hands on experience cooking in professional kitchens. Who knows, one day that dream of opening my own café in London with an accompanying bestseller cookbook may even come true…
Thank you for your continued reading.
Ceri, The Natural Chef
(Has a good ring to it don’t you think?)
Chef photos courtesy of Aimee Porter Photography.2