At Living Light we are always totally amazed at what our graduates accomplish in the world. They are motivated, resourceful, dedicated, and ready to make a difference! Here is a sample of what two of our students, each of whom has chosen her own way of exploring our curriculum, have been able to accomplish with tools and information they have acquired at our school.
Whether you have completed all of the Gourmet Raw Food Chef Certification™ training and all of the advanced classes, or are just starting out on your raw food journey, we are proud to say that our graduates make healthy living delicious all over the world. We hope to include a regular feature on our graduates accomplishments and inspiring stories in upcoming newsletters, and we'll also create a special webpage with information about their accomplishments in conjunction with the launch of our Chef Referral services this month!
Living Light graduate Alicia Ojeda has had a remarkable culinary career. She was the original Executive Chef at Living Light when we opened our culinary center here in Fort Bragg in 2005, and managed both the school and café kitchens, along with teaching classes. Her history with Living Light began in Costa Rica during the Harbin Hot Springs days, and she worked closely with Cherie for many years, taking FUNdamentals of Raw Living Foods™ on the road, and doing demos at various festivals and events around the world.
"Food was always the center of the festivities at our house," she says. "I grew up in a Mexican American family, and we harvested fresh ingredients grown right in our own backyard, from nopal cactus to chilis, lemons, and limes, sugarcane (which replaced candy), and fresh herbs like mint and oregano. As a middle child in a family of six, it was easy to get lost in the crowd, so being in the kitchen was comforting to me. I found something I was good at, and was always eager to help. I learned quickly and really enjoyed working with fresh ingredients from a very young age."
Alicia started a custom cake decorating business in her early 20s, which evolved into a home-based catering business. She moved her business to the Santa Monica Yacht Club and became their in-house caterer. She also worked with Hornblower Dining Yachts, and her mentor was a Culinary Institute of America grad who encouraged her to attend culinary school, where she excelled and progressed in her career to numerous jobs with prestigious companies beginning with Bon Appetit Management Company. Her classical training and professional expertise led to a variety of positions, including Chef Manager at Sony Music, Executive Chef at DreamWorks Studio, R&D/Production Coordinator for Roxanne's Fine Cuisine, and Executive Chef at Beets Café in Austin.
Alicia is currently following her passion for raw and living foods by partnering with Dr. Doug Graham to put his Simply Delicious Cuisine prominently on the raw culinary map. "When I discovered raw foods, I discovered my true passion," Alicia says. "I had always loved working with food in volume, and each job I've had in the past has enabled me to take the next step. When I went to work with Roxanne, I realized that I wouldn't have been ready to do the things I did for her company without the experience I gained working at Living Light and DreamWorks. Every step of my culinary evolution has been built on my previous experiences, and I am very grateful that I discovered the world of raw food at Living Light with The Mother of Gourmet Raw Vegan Foods, Cherie Soria, and Living Light trained instructors Jenny Cornbleet, Matt Samuelson, and Elaina Love. Living Light is amazingly fertile ground for aspiring chefs and instructors."
Alicia is more excited about raw foods now than ever before. She is discovering optimum health through finding the foods that help her thrive. She's eating lighter foods, and has added exercise as a crucial piece of the puzzle. She participated in a study at the University of Texas, and as part of an 8-week program, she began taking Birkram yoga three to five times a week and discovered that everything improved: cholesterol, bone density, body mass index, glucose levels, and most importantly, her cardiovascular health. She is now training for her first triathlon, which will include swimming, biking, and running. She even took adult swim lessons to help her prepare for the event.
"My Dad is 82, and he has juiced every day for 30 years," she says. "In retrospect, I see that he was an example to me even before I discovered raw foods. The most important thing for me now is to be a healthy, fit person and a good grandmother to my 8-month-old grandson AJ. This has also been a spiritual journey for me, and I'm even more motivated to continue on the path, and reach my optimal health and fitness level so that I can be my own success story and lead by example.