I have had the great fortune to be in L.A. since last week to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute‘s (NGI) two week intensive Culinary Nutrition program. A dozen of us are in “school” every day from 9-4, where mornings are spent learning nutrition theory, and afternoons are devoted to “culinary translation”—transforming the theories and information into nourishing, delicious, gourmet food. The days are capped with a group feast, where we delight in our creations and discuss and tweak the recipes.
The only way for me to describe how it feels to spend all day every day around this incredible group of of chefs, nutritionists, and other healthy gourmet food enthusiasts is that I’ve found my “mothership.” My gratitude-o-meter has blown up. This almost does feel possible or real.
For those unfamiliar with NGI, it was started in 1977 by the visionary Dr. Annemarie Colbin in her Upper West Side New York apartment kitchen. Colbin was decades ahead of her time in advocating a return to traditional, sustainable natural food preparation that could at once be gourmet and healing. She began a tradition of Friday night dinners that continues at the school despite her unfortunate passing in April of last year.
Today, as the NGI website states, the school is “the leader in health-supportive culinary education and has graduated over 2,500 chefs from over 45 countries.” In my program alone people have come from everywhere from Brazil, the Philippines, and Mexico to New York and Mississippi. We have restaurant owners, health-minded home chefs, writers, a medical student, a movement therapist, and a professional food stylist. An eclectic group, we are united by a passion for Colbin’s 20th century translation of Hippocrates’ ancient dictum, “Let food be thy medicine…”
I highly recommend you check out Colbin’s 2013 Ted talk, in which she presents her philosophy of food. You can learn more about NGI’s mission here. I’m heading off to school now, but please enjoy this gallery of some of the dishes we’ve prepared this week. And, yes, they taste as good as they look!