I've been around the kitchen all my life. Most of my childhood memories relate to the kitchen and entertaining.
First, my grandfather managed a couple of resorts in South Africa. He managed an Overvaal Oorde Resort Hotel and Badplass Resorts in Mpumalanga.
When I was seven, at Badplass, my grandmother, Tina, took me to one of the kitchens. One of the ladies there made a crocodile out of a cucumber for me. This little gesture meant so much to me. That was the moment I realized that food had the power to bring so much joy to a person.
Then, my mom, Hennelie, managed a hotel in Perdekop, Mpumalanga. It was a great big adventure for me and my sister because we got to live there. I loved the kitchen, the ballroom, and the bar! I have so many great childhood family memories from that time.
After that, Mom had a successful bakery until moving to the States several years ago. She still bakes and has some great vegan versions of her classic bread, pies, meat pies, and sausages. Just don't ask for the recipes!
My formal training started at Three Cities International Hotel School in Johannesburg. This gave me a foundation in international cuisine and opened my mind to possibilities outside of my own country. I knew I wanted to keep the family legacy in the hotel and restaurant business while traveling.
My apprenticeship was at Le Quartier Française, in Franschhoek, in the heart of South Africa's wine region. Completing my training there helped me understand how to manage the international clientele's variety of tastes and expectations. It also enriched my knowledge of wine varieties. And my first love, wine, is still growing.
As the political landscape changed back home, I moved to the United States. After traveling the country and more formal training at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone, California, I landed in Boston. First, I started catering at Simons College. Then I opened my first vegetarian restaurant with my first husband in Newburyport, Mass. It was unique and successful for several years. We opened a second restaurant in Haverhill. We managed to juggle both along with our growing family until 2012.
In 2012 we moved the family to Sarasota, where many of my family members already settled. I began working in senior living while continuing my education. Through work and my personal experiences I developed a passion for using nutrition to heal the body. So I earned my diploma at IIN Integrative Nutrition to be a Nutritional Coach. As better information and scientific research came out I decided becoming vegan was best for me.
Like many people, my husband Steven and I have a blended family with three teens and one young adult. We have amazing extended families with South African and Hungarian roots here in Sarasota. We value all this crazy chaos and show our family how much we love them through great cooking and spending time in the kitchen. This life in the kitchen is in my blood.