Who was, am, will I be?
I grew up in Southern Germany in the sleepy, scenic, medieval hilltop town Bad Wimpfen. That's were I spent the first 20 years of my life, with loving parents who introduced me to great family values. Even though, my Mum was never really too passionate about food or experimenting with new things but what she knew, she knew well and made from scratch whenever time and health permitted. And we kids were always involved in the kitchen, for example for the traditional homemade potato croquettes she used to make especially for Chrismas dinners.
During highschool and my first University years, I used to work at a local restaurant and ice cream café. I loved the job and had a first call of moving into the restaurant business. However, the call was not so strong at this point and I ditched the idea again. Today, I know why! I was not in line with the products, the work ethics and the general business approach in the places I used to work at. The people I worked with did what they were supposed to do, and they did it well, but they were not passionate about it. I did not know, what (com)passion was...
I studied business engineering at the University of Karlsuhe and also did a Masters in Computer Science during a year at University of Massachussetts in North Dartmouth, Massachussetts near Boston. It often didn't feel right, I had ups and downs, went back and forth about quitting and studying medicine or psychology or something else. I was confused. But in the end I went through with it, mainly driven by making experiences traveling and living abroad. I studied in the States, lived 3 months in Boston, two months in Saudi-Arabia interning for a Telecom consultancy and did several language courses in France and Spain.
Then, the call to Italy! I had my thesis all planned out, working with Deutsche Telekom on a prizing model, when I ran into an old friend on Campus. He told me about this project with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy and that they were looking for a Master's student. I was all ear. I gave him my CV and a week later, he calls me from Rome and says: "Pack your bags and come down, they want you here in a month!".
I am not a big planner in terms of my own future, but I follow paths, calls and my heart and intention. Four weeks later, I was walking by the Colosseum to start my first day working for the United Nations. It's been a dream, and here I was. My life and lifestyle in Rome and the people I met changed my life:
It was Italy, were I finally discovered my real passion for food. People there celebrate food and eating. My first roomate, a Sicilian, introduced me to Sicilian cooking and I would eat dinner with her and her boyfriend almost every night, learning all about Southern Italian cooking. My ex-boss and friend Johannes is a fabulous hobby chef himself and made me realize what difference it makes to use quality products and put love and passion into your food. And then there were all these endless dinners with my Italian friends... I also started to become a big fan of farmers markets. Learning more about the super market industry, I tried to avoid them more and more and doing all my shopping on the local markets, where I learned so much about the seasons of vegetables and fruits and learned to distinguish the good, healthily grown from the industrially grown vegetables. Working for the Food and Agriculture Organization, I was also surrounded by nutritionists and so I started to pay much more attention on nutrition in general and got more and more interested in organic and sustainable growing.
My type of contract as an independent Knowledge Systems Specialist Consultant permitted me to break for periods of time and resume work after. I realized this incredible opportunity and went travelling. 3 months Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala) and 6 months Southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and The Philippines). Asia was an intense spiritual travel and it was there were I had my first eperience with raw food. I did a 10 - day Vipassana Meditation Silent Retreat in Yangoon, Myanmar, an intensive training to become an Ayurvedic Yoga Massage Therapist at The Sanctuary on Koh Phangan, Thailand and a 3 1/2 day cleansing programme at The Alternative in El Nido on Palaw, The Philippines.
I love travelling and exploring new cultures. And what I love most of it is experiencing the different foods in foreign countries. In fact, amongst the first things I am doing upon arriving in a new place is seeking out local restaurants and markets were they sell local foods. It is most exciting to me to taste new things, to discover different foods and to take ideas with me that I can incorporate into my own experiments.
My Asia travel also fell into a time, when I realized the boundaries of conventional medicine. I had been treated years for chronical sinuses and tension headaches without any success,and therefore got more and more interested in alternative medicine and nutrition.
With all this travel experience and my growing awareness of alternative medicine, organic foods and the attached life style, it was only natural to come across Café Gratitude, when I traveled to San Francisco for a work conference in May 2006. And from my first bite on, I was sold to raw food and convinced that I want to learn how to prepare these delicious pies, ice creams, crackers and breads that I couldn't believe were all raw! An idea started to grow. I felt a subtle call to work in the area of food, nutrition and health. Not yet strong enough, and I was still too comfortable with my position in Rome and too reluctant to move or do anything to change.
But then another marker on the path. About a year after having my first meal, I went to visit a friend in London and by chance met up with Dickon, who did the massage training in Ayurvedic Yoga Massage with me at The Sanctuary in Thailand. I told him about my experiences and my intentions of moving into that field and he asked me if I knew Gabriel Cousins. I was not aware, but keen on finding out, so I looked it up on the internet. And there it was: Kitchen Apprenticeship Program to become a Spiritual Life Food Instructor at one of the Worlds Pioneer and major research centers in Living Raw Foods and Spiritual Nutrition: The Tree of Life.
I applied for the programme, but then got confused again: A mix of financial insecurity, feeling too comfortable in a fairly safe position at the UN in a beautiful, sunny city surrounded by all my good friends made me reconsider and cancel the application again. But the seed was planted. And it grew, and grew, and grew until I could not help either growing with it or being caught up in its roots and never be able to move again. I wanted to
I quit my job, applied for the program again, moved to Berlin and went to Patagonia, Arizona to do what I can call the most changing experience of my life: a three month training to become a Raw Food Chef and Trainer.
So here I am, a Raw Food & Plant Based Chef with a past of being an Information Management Specialist, trying to make this world a better place by sharing my experiences with anyone who is interested in living a healthier, sustainable life-style, more in line with nature, connected to earth and most important of all doing this while having fun and finding happiness, because only, if you are happy and truly love yourself and you have no more enemies within you, you will start to realize friends in everybody.
Now here a selecion of some my personal favourites:
Favourite leisure activities:
Socializing, cooking/dinners, yoga, movies, skiing, swimming, scuba diving / snorkling, sailing
Favourite Food Books:
Naked Chocolate, David Wolfe
The Café Gratitude Book
A day at El Bulli
The Celestine Prophecies
Anything genuine, home-made, using the best available ingredients (high quality, fresh, organic, local, sustainable, fair trade), that is prepared with love and passion.
Favourite countries for traveling:
Italy, Southeast Asia, Bulgaria, Japan, Canada