About Chef Linda
As a vegan chef, could there be anything better than teaching and inspiring people how to cook and eat compassionately while working at a sanctuary for rescued farm animals nestled in the beauty of the Catskill Mountains? Not for me! While working a very stressful, but very rewarding job at a large non-profit, I decided I needed a way to take my mind off of work so I pulled the trigger on a lifelong dream to become a chef and enrolled as a part-time student in a wonderful culinary school, Manhattan’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. I didn’t have a plan…just knew I wasn’t getting any younger and had to answer the voice inside that had started with a whisper but that was now screaming at me, “Just do it already, would you?!” A year later, I graduated with my chef’s degree but continued working my “real job” until that pesky voice started screaming at me again…
See, I had always wanted to have my own cafe. I had a lifetime of journals that I had dreamed in, stacks of books on starting your own food business, and articles that I had saved over the years, all fueling my internal fire. It was never the right time, or I didn’t have the training yet, or maybe I simply didn’t have the courage. When I finally decided to forge ahead, people called me crazy, but I closed my eyes and made a leap of faith. A few months later, I was looking at my desk job in the rear view mirror and staring straight ahead at GreenGourmetToGo.
Fast forward a couple of years. I found that while I loved to feed people, I told all my customers that I hoped they would put me out of business because I wanted them all to learn to cook healthy, plant-based foods for themselves. Sustainability was the key. You can’t eat out every day, if you want to eat well, you had to be able to prepare your own food…at least some of the time. I began teaching classes at night, doing lectures and demonstrations locally. People were eager to learn more, so I enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and earned my certification as a holistic health coach so I could be more effective in inspiring change.
I soon found myself at a crossroad. Loving the cafe I built and all of my loyal customers, I knew that I couldn’t feed people full-time and teach with what little time I had left. Knowledge is power and I wanted to empower people to thrive on a plant-based diet. That’s where Catskill Animal Sanctuary comes in. As fate would have it, I was invited to come teach for a season. Needing to step back, and think about what to do next, I jumped at the chance to get away from the daily routine and gain some perspective.
Well here we are a few years later and I’m thrilled to still be a part of this organization. I took on the role of Director of Compassionate Cuisine and am charged with growing the culinary program, developing and teaching more classes and finding new ways to get the message out that eating a vegan diet is delicious and simple! That’s where this blog comes in! Once we get this rolling, we’ll set our sites on the first CAS cookbook!
For any of you who are reading this and thinking, wow, I always wanted to _____ (fill in the blank), my advice to you is to listen to that inner voice. Yes, it’s scary and sure it’s risky. I made mistakes along the way, but I believe that everything you do that moves you forward on your journey toward living what you believe is somehow useful. If the only thing that’s stopping you is fear, then find a way to step over, under or around it. The view of your future is so much more spectacular when you don’t have a big boulder in your way.