My love of cooking started in a communal kitchen in Riga, Latvia when I was still a kid. My mom and dad worked full-time, but there were always homemade meals on the table. We ate locally and seasonally. There were no processed foods in the Soviet Union because food was in short supply, and there was no need to preserve what little there was. I loved watching my mom cook and always wanted to participate. Our neighbor used to say that I was going to be a chef. I grew up, got married, had a baby, and we decided to immigrate to the United State.
After trying different jobs in my new country, my love of cooking and baking returned with a force. I remembered all of the wonderful pastries and cakes I had eaten in Riga’s fabulous cafés, and I wanted to try to make them myself. I bought a book on the basics of French pastry making, and once I had mastered the craft, I began advertising my services as a cake maker. I later expanded into preparing complete meals for folks who were open to taking a chance on this passionate, food-loving chef. Little by little I gained a sense of confidence, and I began to diversify my repertoire and build my clientele, ultimately creating my own catering business.
When I came to this country, I discovered a whole new world of food. The food we were eating in Latvia was very wholesome, but it was also very plain. Here I discovered ethnic foods and a plethora of herbs and spices that fascinated and excited me. I could not wait to dive in and start cooking with them. Gradually I discovered that my intuition would guide me in combining just the right foods and spices to create delicious and exciting new flavor sensations.
During our first years in America, I made another, albeit unwelcome, discovery. I started getting migraine headaches, something I had never experienced. Around the same time, I began subscribing to different food publications, like Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and Vegetarian Times. Through Vegetarian Times, I learned about the farming practices in America, including the use of antibiotics and hormones, which were administered to farm animals through their food and by injection. Those antibiotics and hormones were then passed on to me through the poultry and meat I was eating. This knowledge influenced my decision to become a vegetarian. A few months later, my migraines were gone! This was a real eureka moment for me and set me on the path of exploring the relationship between our health and the food we eat. When meat raised sustainably appeared in a local health food store, I went back to becoming an omnivore and have been enjoying this diet without any adverse effects ever since.
A couple of years later, I had another experience that further supported the connection between food and health. After several hours in a department store, I suddenly fainted. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room, where I felt as if I had been run over by a truck. After eating, my energy was restored. I was told that the sudden drop in my blood sugar caused me to faint. My diagnosis was hypoglycemia, and I was advised not to eat sugar. Through further research, I came across the book How to Get Well by Paavo Airola. His writing helped me learn how food and supplements could help restore my blood sugar balance. I followed his recommendations faithfully, and though learning to live without sweets was not an easy endeavor, and I slipped many times along the way, my desire to heal prevailed. Healing through food has always proven to be the answer for me, and through these changes to my diet, I was able to restore my blood sugar balance and my health.
As I continued down this path, I discovered the new phenomenon of the time: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I became an ardent supporter of this movement, creating a marketing program with the Farm School, whereby I offered samples of my simple and delicious recipes prepared with seasonal vegetables at The Copley Square Farmers Market in Boston. I continued to expand my experience and reputation as an educator, offering cooking classes to adults and kids through community education programs in the Boston area.
When I relocated to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, I discovered an active and caring local community that inspired me to offer cooking demos at the Pittsfield Farmers Market and to launch a cooking show, . My show is a synthesis of the things I am most passionate about: promoting healthy, seasonal eating and featuring local farmers, chefs and community organizations that are working to make food access available to all.
My food adventures on the path to healing have taught me to be open and flexible. I have gained a lot of practical knowledge and confidence, and I am ready to share this joy of self-discovery and know-how to help others find balance in their lives.