01/31/2012 03:43 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2012

Cooking Is Where the Heart Is

Two years ago, I moved from Los Angeles to my small hometown in Northern New Jersey. My mother was ill and something inside me told me it was time to "go home." So I sold everything I had in LA -- broke the lease on my apartment -- and boxed up and shipped what was left of my belongings, and boarded a flight to New York. As the flight took off out of LAX, I had the most beautiful view of the ocean. I couldn't help but wonder what on earth I was doing, leaving such a beautiful and magical place. But inside, part of me knew and so I allowed my heart to take the lead and I surrendered to it. I trusted that it was all part of my journey and would lead me to where I wanted to be.

In New Jersey, life wasn't easy. My mother was very ill and spent weeks in the hospital at a time. For the first few months, I spent a lot of time in my childhood house, soaking up my fair share of memories and continuing to wonder what I was doing or where I was going. Things felt out of control and as a way to help myself feel calm and peaceful, I started cooking. I started by committing to cooking healthy for myself a few times a week and then quickly blossomed into me cooking for myself every night. In a world of what felt like chaos around me, I could be certain that no matter what, I would prepare dinner for myself. And that thought alone nourished something deep in my soul that I couldn't quite explain, but could feel even on the hardest days.

Soon after that, my mother came home from the hospital. She spent a lot of her days laying on the living room couch, watching her comfort movies and shows and recovering. To keep her company, I would hang out in the kitchen, looking at recipes online, reading as many cookbooks as I could get my hands on, and just generally getting acquainted with different styles of cooking, different flavors, and all the different nutrition information that I could get my hands on. And so every afternoon around 3 p.m., I would come downstairs and start cooking. Within 30 minutes, amazing smells would fill the house and my mother would come wandering in, wondering what was going on. Sometimes she would sit at the table while I worked at the counter or stove, and other times she would go back to the couch. After a few weeks of this, I was cooking every single morning and afternoon. I cooked and cooked and slowly my mother's health improved. It was around this time that I began to realize what was happening. I always said that cooking is healing. But before this time, I really wasn't sure what it meant. I understood that the different properties of food could be healthy -- but it was in New Jersey, in the big white house on the pine tree-lined street, with the handmade cedar mailbox at the end of the long driveway -- that I really understood what it meant to heal through cooking. It wasn't about the food -- it was about how I was preparing it and what was happening in my own mind and heart at the same time. I cooked to heal myself -- and through healing myself I extended my healing to others in the form of food.

Looking back on all of those hours I spent in the kitchen, tears come to my eyes. What a tender memory I have, which I have based my business and cooking philosophy around. The other day, my main client, who also has a serious medical condition, came downstairs to tell me that with me in her house, she felt a sense of love and light that she hadn't before. And I do remember my mother saying the same thing. And the reason I originally turned to cooking was to help myself feel aligned with my inner peace and joy. When I am in the kitchen, everything else stops in time. I stand at the counter, chopping onions or celery or beets or tomatoes, and the entire world around me becomes a blur. Everything that moves a mile a minute in my life comes to a halt and my attention focuses itself inward and I become one with the food. My inner peace comes out and reflects itself in my food and through this beautiful art comes a magnificent healing. I love to cook and others love to eat my food. It's such a simple equation, yet something so profound and deep comes out of it. And for me, that is what it means to live in my heart and be aligned with who I really am. I want to help people by healing them, one loving meal at a time.

Here I am, almost two full years later, and I have surrounded myself with a business that is truly my pride and joy. I am putting all that I have into creating a heart-centered approach to cooking and healing through food. I see my mother now and see how well she has improved over the last year and know for certain that those seven months that I spent cooking for her really helped her along. Maybe it wasn't just my food, but also my loving presence that helped her body and mind have the strength to keep going -- and to heal. I now extend this same philosophy to my clients, who all have a need to heal on many different levels and who all deserve the love and attention of anyone else. And so every morning, I arrive to my "office" and set the tone. I put on my music, take a few deep breaths, and center myself into the loving energy of my day. I put on my purple and orange apron, and much like Santa Clause on Christmas Eve, the rest feels like magic.