What’s it like to be a Natural Chef?

Natural ChefLast year we launched our new and exclusive Natural Chef Diploma. Allowing students to learn about the theory of good nutrition and using food as medicine whilst gaining cooking skills to allow them to become a professional chef. With this blog we’ll bring you regular updates from our students and lecturers about what it’s really like being a Natural Chef – professional or in-training!

To start us off we ask our Natural Chef Course Director Ceri Jones to share her experience of being a Natural Chef.

What inspired you to become a Natural Chef?

I love food, not just eating it (!), but the history behind it, where food comes from, how it’s made, the nutritional content, and its link to good (and bad) health.  I find all of this so fascinating, and spent nearly three years exploring all of these ideas and passions through my blog before realising that I could turn my interest into a career.

I explored taking on a formal 3-year nutrition degree as well as conventional chef training, but found that both these avenues would have left me with gaps in the knowledge and skills I was seeking.  Then I came across natural chef training and realised it gave me everything I was after in a fun and inspiring way. 

Tell us some of the projects you’ve worked on since you qualified…

I often joke with prospective students that I have tried almost every natural chef career option! I initially took a part-time job as a chef in a healthy cafe which was instrumental in giving me confidence in my professional cooking skills.  Alongside this I continued to develop my recipes, expand my food writing portfolio, and gained experience teaching cookery at various cooking schools and on community projects.

As a former project manager I had never even contemplated that teaching would be an area that I would be suited to or really enjoy.  When the chef job came to an end it gave me the opportunity to focus on my teaching, and I began working with CNM on developing the Natural Chef course.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

That’s almost impossible to answer, but not quite!  I love hearing when my students / readers feel inspired to cook something new and healthy. Especially as this often has a domino effect on the health of their friends and loved ones too. Magic!

What does a typical day look like for you? – If you have one!

I do a variety of jobs, so there is no typical day!

If I’m at home in my office it usually involves a lot of admin – emails, writing, researching and planning classes, creating shopping lists for events etc. But at lunch I get to test new recipes (which I’ll then spend time photographing) which I love.

If I’m cooking at a yoga retreat or similar, my day is much more hands-on. I can be doing anything in the kitchen from the unglamorous task of unloading the dishwasher, to leading a raw chocolate making workshop and of course there’s three meals a day to prepare so I normally end up falling into bed at 10.30pm totally knackered, but cooking and serving healthy food and opening a dialogue about the value of nutrition makes it all worthwhile! 

What are your hopes for the future?

For me, personally I would like to write a recipe book, an enormous task but I have so many ideas for recipes that I can’t wait to share. Other than that I’m very happy with everything else I do at the moment!

What’s your favourite healthy recipe and why?

At the moment I love making chickpea wraps. They are naturally gluten free and a source of protein too.  I seem to be making them at least once a week at the moment because they are quick and versatile. They make a perfect base for an egg – which is a simple, healthy and nutritious meal I’ll happily eat any day of the week!