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|Amber Brooks • 2/23/18|
The Short Version: The Living Light Culinary Institute is the world’s premier plant-based cooking school for vegan, vegetarian, and health-conscious chefs from all walks of life. If you want to learn how to bring out the fresh flavors of raw ingredients, you can take a hands-on course and build your cooking repertoire in a friendly environment. The workshops emphasize garden-to-table and ocean-to-table cooking methods that empower individuals to prep nutritious, delicious, and eco-friendly meals. Whether you want to wow your date with your culinary skills or support a partner’s path to good health, you can educate yourself about what to put on your plate at the Living Light Culinary Institute.
One summer day, my mom called me as I was driving home for dinner. She was at the ER with my dad. He’d been experiencing chest pains for a couple days, and they thought it might be a heart attack. “We don’t want you to worry,” my mom told me. Too late for that.
When I got home, my mom’s hamburger casserole was still hot from the oven and sitting on our family dinner table. My dad had asked her to make it the night before. I felt sick thinking about all that cheese and grease clogging his arteries, and I ended up throwing the whole thing away.
My dad used to sneak extra cookies and double helpings of fried foods like he was getting away with something. But it caught up to him. Thankfully, my dad survived his heart attack, and the experience served as a wake-up call for my parents, who now keep to a strict nutritious diet.
As my family has discovered, maintaining healthy eating habits is very much a team effort. Couples can do a lot to support one another’s dietary goals and restrictions, especially in their home kitchens. You can learn how to whip up delicious and healthy dishes by going to a vegan-friendly culinary class by yourself or with a partner.
For the last 20 years, the Living Light Culinary Institute has offered plant-based cooking classes in California to inspire home cooks and professional chefs to change the way they prepare and consume food. Once you know more about what’s on your plate, you can control what goes in your body and improve your quality of life — and the quality of life of anyone dining with you.
Couples can take a course at the Living Light Culinary Institute to commit to a healthier way of life and bond while learning useful cooking skills.
“We’re far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city,” said Erica Harrold, Communications Support for the Institute, “so people are able to slow down and experience a connection to food, to the soil, and to this place.”
The typical class size at the Living Light Culinary Institute is about 15 students, and people come from all corners of the globe to learn from these plant-based culinary artists. To date, the Institute has trained over 1,000 people from 60 countries. The hands-on classes have taught graduates how to forage for natural ingredients, prep meals, and present world-class cuisine representing a variety of ethnic flavors. The diverse culinary curriculum covers everything from raw nutrition to vegan cooking.
“They get the full experience from basic kitchen skills to crafting recipes and hosting events,” Erica said. “Our workshops encourage graduates to include more plant-based foods into their diets.”
James Sant, the Institute’s Culinary and Creative Director, said he likes to tell his students that no recipe is ever truly finished. “We will always be perfecting and growing by re-imagining set patterns. Change is the only constant in the universe. I consider life as an ongoing and ever-expanding classroom.”
It doesn’t matter what your eating habits are or how much culinary experience you have — every student is welcome to enroll in the culinary classes, stay at the private inns in town, and cultivate a healthy relationship with plant-based foods. By learning how to bring out the natural flavors of living foods, you can embark on a healthy lifestyle and whip up gourmet dishes that’ll keep your loved ones satisfied for many years to come.
“We are designing beautiful, affordable weekend workshops involving ocean-to-table, forest-to-table, and garden-to-table,” James said. “We will be learning seaweed harvesting from the best guides in the country, foraging mushrooms and wild edibles from the Mendocino redwood forests, and gardening workshops in our newly transformed Inns.”
If you want to discover the beauty and benefits of living foods, you can become a student of the Living Light Culinary Institute and start a journey toward clean living.
“I witnessed a couple of workshops from Chef James Sant and remain in awe months later!” said one Yelp reviewer. “Information just pours out of him regarding the highest vibration foods possible, and his joy is positively contagious. His messages were just what I needed in that moment.”
People decide to become vegetarian or vegan for many reasons, including their health, moral reservations, and environmental concerns. Some students of the Living Light Culinary Institute have said they decided to change their diets because of a loved one suffering a life-threatening illness.
Whatever your motivation, adding more raw and natural foods to your diet can do wonders for your life. As Erica said, “When you cultivate a living food diet, it’s better for you, and it’s better for the planet.”
However, some people shy away from the vegan lifestyle because they think it’ll take all the joy and flavor from their mealtimes. The Institute believes the exact opposite is true — and it’s on a mission to prove it. The team of culinary experts has recently started hosting pop-up dinners for around 48 guests. You can check the Institute’s calendar to make a reservation for this catered event. Seats are limited, so sign up early if you want to dig in.
The Institute’s vegan-friendly meals are extremely popular because they showcase the many delicious organic flavors of plant-based foods. Once a month, the Institute impresses diners by putting out a spread of mouthwatering cuisine, including vegan crab cakes and a fully stocked salsa bar.
The goal of the pop-up dinners is to make vegan dishes more accessible to people who may not know how delicious organic vegetable and fruit dishes can be. The chefs hope one bite of the black forest chocolate cake will change any preconceived notions that all vegan food is bland and tasteless.
“Living Light was determined to show that any and all ethnic cuisines of the world could be successfully converted to healthier living food versions,” James said. “Our canon of recipes is by far the most cutting edge and has defined movements within the raw food community for the past two decades.”
Over the last few decades, the Living Light Culinary Institute has helped many people expand their culinary expertise. You can read some of the success stories for a taste of the wonderful work they do. Some of the Institute’s graduates include movers and shakers in the raw food industry.
“When I discovered the raw food movement — and especially the creativity of gourmet raw cuisine — I was hooked,” said Mizpah Matus, an Associate Chef and Instructor trained by the Institute. “What ultimately inspired me to study at Living Light was Cherie Soria’s unique approach that places an equal emphasis on nutrition and flavor.”
“We’re grounded in the community. We attend to our students in such a way that they end up leaving with a sense of connection to one another and to this place,” Erica said, “which I think is really special.”
“The moment I found out about the professional raw food training at Living Light, I knew my life was never going to be the same.” — Julie Van Den Kerchove, a raw food chef
The open-minded and compassionate staff members of the Institute support foodies on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Many students find healing and inspiration through the workshops.
“This isn’t about just promoting a new dietary plan or set of skills — this is about manifesting a whole new physical/spiritual life through nutrition and mindful consumption,” said a Yelp reviewer. “It is about living longer, healthier, and more vibrant. Living foods is about honoring our own temple and bringing health and love through living foods to our loved ones.”
My parents learned the hard way how an individual’s dietary choices can impact a family, for better or worse. Nowadays, whenever my dad orders a salad instead of a burger at a restaurant, he gives my mom’s hand a quick squeeze and says, “The things I do to spend more time with you.”
The Living Light Culinary Institute encourages thousands of people, like my parents, to be more conscious of what foods they’re putting in their bodies and make healthful choices when preparing meals at home. The educational organization’s workshops and events empower culinary students to prepare, cook, and flavor raw foods, creating mouthwatering dishes that are both nutritious and delicious.
“The goal is to excite people,” said James. “We embrace the concept of connecting with our local farmers and environment. Optimal health can be one of the msot exciting adventures imaginable. It’s time to slow down and embrace tried-and-true methods that predate commercial food handling. It’s time to return to the land and the joy of connecting with our food.”