A graduate of Living Light Culinary Institute, Cristina has over 15 years of experience art directing, designing, and branding for Discovery Networks. We had the chance to connect with her since her graduation in 2012.
1.) What was your first experience in the kitchen?
My oldest kitchen memory is making marzipan. I was so intrigued by the beautiful shapes one could create. I liked trying things and making up my own flavors.
2.) What drew you to plant-based/ raw food cuisine?
It just made total sense. This food is such a shortcut to wellness and it’s so aesthetically pleasing that you can’t help but fall in love with plant-based raw foods. Yes, it’s a little challenging at first but then that glow / feeling takes over and you see the transformation in your life and you just want to keep going!
3.) When you attended Living Light, what did you enjoy about the school?
At the time, most of the staple raw ingredients and kitchen tools were new for me — and having access to all of this at Living Light was mind-blowing. I enjoyed the culinary studio set-up. It is designed for a hands-on experience that allows for plenty of culinary exploration.
4.) Who are the culinary inspirations in your life right now?
I really enjoy René Redzepi’s work, he’s very inspiring. His last book on fermentation (The Noma Guide to Fermentation) is really cool. I also like watching the Chef's Table on Netflix — all of those stories are very inspiring.
5.) How do you feel attitudes toward raw and vegan foods have changed in the past 5 years?
A few years ago the term "Raw Foodie" was a label for those who ate solely raw foods. The result of that was a cuisine that imitated cooked dishes —in flavor and texture— while trying to recreate food experiences. It developed its own set of kitchen rules and recipes characteristically loaded with nuts. It was quite challenging and it was very attractive to me. But now I think Raw Food as a cuisine is more than an "all or nothing" lifestyle choice. It is nice to know what your body needs and make food choices that support that. I like that vegan restaurants now offer raw dishes and that markets carry some raw staple products, it’s definitely become more available and more inclusive!
6.) Do you have any exciting projects going on that you'd like to share?
I am very excited about my project THE VEGGIE SHIFT where we celebrate the sexy side of veggies, and stay inspired to keep a healthy lifestyle via interviews, recipes, food coaching and retreats.
I also am working with a TV crew from Washington DC in a very cool project. We are developing a unique series of shows to be shot in a live studio and I am running the culinary media department. We are scheduled to launch in May 2019.
Finally, I will be a chef for a few retreats again next year in Ecuador at the Raw Food World. Come join me!