The Path to Creating Kombu Kitchen

October 18, 2012

Ask any of my closest friends or family what I should be doing with my life and inevitably you’ll hear “Write a cookbook,” “Host a cooking show,” or “Be a master chef!”

It has always been my deepest passion to cook professionally. But Kombu Kitchen is more than just a vocation. It is an expression of who I am and what I aspire to be. Launching Kombu Kitchen has been a culmination of a lifetime of lessons learned across years of personal growth, self-discovery, and being totally honest, years of struggles with my weight and body image all punctuated by some defining moments that have altered my path forever.

I first learned about veganism and sustainability in 1992 from the late founder of the The Body Shop, Anita Roddick, while sitting across from her at her kitchen counter in Littlehampton, England. Years later, a magical macrobiotic dinner with Richard Gere and Professor Robert Thurman, Uma Thurman’s father, discussing Tibetan Buddhism and the principles of non-harming would open my eyes to many of the principles Kombu Kitchen employs today.  In 1994, several years after I had lived in Brazil and visited it’s rainforests, I co-hosted a vegan dinner for Sting and his wife Trudie Styler in honor of their tireless work helping indigenous peoples through The Rainforest Foundation Fund. That night augmented my belief in the importance of sustainability and power of local sourcing.

At the core of who I am and what defines my lifes work are lessons learned while working with my mentor Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda and co-founder of Business for Social Responsibility and The Social Venture Network. In 1995, I helped Horst launch an organic nutritional company, Intelligent Nutrients and began my deeper journey into nutrition, ayurvedia, vegan cooking, and the power of food to heal.

A double cancer diagnosis at the age of 41, after losing my mother to the same just years before laid the final bricks on my path.  All of these breathtaking moments, good and challenging, left their indelible mark on my life and brought me to the creation of Kombu Kitchen in 2012.

I am a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef and have a passion for the classic French culinary style. My time in Paris often comes through in what I have coined my vegan fusion style of cooking. I am also trained as a nutritional and wellness counselor with the AFPA and have been certified as a Ayurvedic practitioner. Peppered throughout an 18 year corporate career in PR and Marketing in the beauty, health and wellness world, I have worked as a sous chef, baker, private chef, and caterer.

I take my inspiration for the farm to table food I prepare from many places. My culinary idols include Chef Thomas Keller, Chef Micheal Mina, and Chef Alice Walker to name a few. My favorite meals have been savored at Souen in New York City, L’Ami Jean in Paris, de Culiniare Werkplaats in Amsterdam, and of course French Laundry in Yountville, CA.

I took my first macrobiotic cooking class in 1987. While studying in Austria, I met a humble Japanese healer that would change how I looked at food forever.  He taught me about yin and yang and the endless give and take in the universe, while showing me how to cut carrots with intention and stir miso from the heart.

Chopping and preparing food for others is one of the most sacred acts I can think of preforming. I approach every meal I prepare as a gift I give and more importantly, receive. It is at once my life’s work and my nourishment — it feeds my soul as much as it feeds those I cook for.

I look forward to the gift of cooking for you.

In Health, Kristen

Kristen Thibeault

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