Graduate Success Stories

Living Light Culinary Institute is in the business of educating students from around the world and preparing them for career opportunities that support personal and planetary health. We are proud of what our graduates accomplish in the world. They are motivated, resourceful, dedicated, and ready to make a difference. The professional expertise they acquire as Living Light graduates enables them to choose from a variety of career paths including raw food chef, caterer, culinary instructor, health consultant, nutrition educator, food designer, food writer, and recipe book author, among others. Our graduates have been able to embark on careers that are as diverse as they are ambitious. Read some of their inspirational stories below!

Felix at the Living Light Photo Station-0911

Name: Felix Schoener

Location: Bali
Career:Currently at Fivelements Puri Ahimsa in charge of the Sakti Restaurant, (winner of the Spa Cuisine of the Year” award at AsiaSpa Awards 2014)

“During the “Fivelements Dinner Club” experience we tried a great variety of dishes and each one was surprisingly impeccable with balanced savors and stunning presentation. The cuisine is created to promote the philosophy of ‘wellbeing through nutrition’ and the Sakti menu contains only fresh and healthy dishes, expertly handcrafted by world recognized Chef Felix Shoener according to the raw organic gastronomy motives. I am not a vegetarian or raw food person, but eating at Sakti Dining Room™ could inspire one to change!” Marcello Massoni (CEO Gaya Ceramic and Design) & Michel

Certification(s): Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor
Personal: Felix loves to travel, meet new people, spend time with his Mother (who inspired him to vegetarianism) and continue to learn how to “let the soul of produce shine” with inspired raw living cuisine.
Quote: “I enjoy marrying my love of raw living foods with the ancient disciplines of Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, as well as macrobiotics, avant-garde, modernist cuisine, and the emerging green gastronomy movement.”
Bio: Originally from Bremen, Germany, Chef Felix Schoener had an illustrious career apprenticing and working at several Michelin-starred restaurants and gaining many awards along the way, before he discovered raw living foods. He was a chef for several years at The Farm at San Benito in the Philippines, a beautiful resort and healing spa serving gourmet raw vegan cuisine. Felix also trained with Dr. Gabriel Cousens at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia. Cherie and Dan invited Felix to Living Light to be a presenter at the Vibrant Living Expo, and we fell in love with him and his creative spirit. He stayed for six months, graduating as an Associate Chef and Instructor, studying Ethnic Cuisine and Recipe Development as well as Science of Raw Food Nutrition with Drs. Rick and Karin Dina. Felix and Cherie enjoyed developing new recipes together.

Chad Sarno

Name: Chad Sarno

Location: Austin, Texas
Career: Whole Foods Market
Certification(s): Professional Raw Food Chef and Instructor
Personal: Loves to travel, enjoys fine dining and organic wine bars
Quote: “Living Light has had an important impact on my path and has inspired countless others. I honor Cherie and her vision, and offer high respect, praise, appreciation, and of course my support in all that Living Light continues to achieve in the world. Cherie Soria has been a huge influence on my life, and I’ll always be grateful.”
Bio: Chad began as a Living Light student, and continued his education, becoming a Living Light Certified Professional Raw Food Chef and Instructor. He was head chef and one of our esteemed instructors at Living Light in the early years, traveling the world with us and building relationships in the raw community. He has since gone on to do amazing things in the world, to international acclaim. Chad partnered with a boutique international lifestyle company based in central Europe as Executive Chef and Concept Developer and launched the SAF restaurant brand; an exciting fine dining, green gastronomy concept highlighting health supportive cuisine and organic wine bars. With Chad’s expertise, the company successfully launched restaurants in Istanbul, Munich, and London. Chad is currently working with Whole Foods Market co-creating and assisting with the launch of a company-wide Healthy Eating Initiative driven by CEO John Mackey. He is a Living Light graduate to watch!

Click here to read more about Chad…


Name: Kari Bernardi

Location: Carmel, California
Career: Kari is the owner and executive chef at Super Natural Chef based in Carmel, California. Her company specializes in gourmet raw vegan cuisine, including catering and teaching.
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor, Pastry Arts-Unbaked!™

Personal: I love teaching people (especially children) how to grow and prepare delicious and nutritious plant-based meals.

Quote: “I consider Living Light my family and cherish the early days when we traveled around the globe together as chefs and messengers of the raw food lifestyle. Together we enhanced this world on an amazing mango rich tropical journey!”

Bio: Kari is Founding Director of the California State University Monterey Bay Farm-to-School Partnership Program. She has been instrumental in writing healthy school food policies, bringing fresh organic fruits and vegetables into schools, and teaching farm fresh nutrition education to students around the world. For over 20 years she has shared her teaching expertise to help people thrive on a plant-based diet and has taught students from 5 years old to 95 years young. She writes healthy school food policies that promote building school gardens and implementing salad bars. She teaches edible education in the local schools, farmer’s markets, Head Start Programs, the Boys and Girls Clubs, at hospitals, colleges, in recovery programs and at church events. Her company caters weddings and gatherings, and she also works as a private chef and instructor for public and private classes in raw, vegan culinary arts. Kari’s latest projects are a recipe book and working with a group to build local healing retreat centers. Before returning to her home town of Carmel, CA, she was a valued faculty member at Living Light Culinary Institute, serving as a chef, instructor and Culinary Programs Manager. Website:

Read more about Kari


Name: Mizpah Matus

Location: Costa Rica
Career: Nutritionist, raw food chef and author of The Raw Food Solution
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor
Personal: Loves to travel, teach and inspire others.

Quote: “As long as I remember I’ve had a passion for healthy food that also tastes fantastic. So when I discovered the raw food movement – and especially the creativity of gourmet raw cuisine – I was hooked. However, what ultimately inspired me to study at Living Light was Cherie Soria’s unique approach that places an equal emphasis on nutrition and flavor. As a nutritionist I tend to focus on the health benefits of a recipe but I do not want to compromise on taste!”

Bio: After experiencing dramatic improvements in her own personal health with a raw food diet, Mizpah was inspired to share her experiences and knowledge with others. She is the author of an exciting new book, The Raw Food Solution, a step-by-step guide to help people optimize their nutrition. Mizpah also offers online health and detox programs. “Since graduating from Living Light, my confidence in my culinary skills has greatly increased and I now love to create my own original recipes. My husband and I travel a lot, and I’ve learned to work with whatever is available in my environment. It is especially rewarding to adapt the local flavors and ingredients to produce a nutritious and satisfying raw meal. My learning experience was about more than the food. It was also an opportunity to grow on a personal level with the support offered by our wonderful instructors and fellow students. It was a delight to be in an environment where people were undergoing genuine transformation, and were open to communicating on a heart-felt level.”

Read more about Mizpah


Name: Julie Van den Kerchove

Location: Belgium
Career: Raw food teacher, chef and founder of Julie’s Lifestyle
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Besides spending time in the kitchen, she loves to work out, swim, watch art house movies, enjoy long walks on the beach and go out with friends.

Quote: “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 again. My partner Simon and I made a very impulsive decision to invest our savings and time in what is considered the best raw food chef and teacher training in the world, and we have never looked back! The highly professional raw food training offered at Living Light has enabled us to return to Europe with more knowledge, skills and experience than we could have ever imagined possible! It has empowered and inspired us to start a raw food business in order to spread the raw food message not only in Belgium but all around the world.

Bio: Julie and her partner Simon offer raw culinary workshops to clients one-on-one, and to groups in Belgium, Spain, Italy and France. Her three greatest passions are healthy food, exercise and traveling. Her journey to optimal health started at the age of 15. She became a conscious vegetarian, but from a young age struggled with weight issues. As a college student studying journalism, her diet progressively deteriorated and she began to have health problems, including constant fatigue, negative thoughts, mood swings and anxiety attacks. When she could no longer recognize herself as the positive, energetic woman she had been, she realized that she needed to make major dietary and lifestyle changes, and decided to enroll as a Living Light student. The rest is an inspiring story of transformation!

Read more about Julie.


Name: Sequoia Cheney

Career: Founder/CEO of Wonderfully Raw Gourmet and creator of Coco-Roons
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves working with her family in a growing business and being very much a part of a greater movement to bring health and healing to our world.

Quote: “When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I intuitively knew there was a way to heal myself using food as medicine. Though I tried the medical model for a few years, including taking medication and following the recommended SAD diet, it just wasn’t working for me. My amazing experience at Living Light definitely changed my life, and gave me the confidence and expertise to courageously start my own successful raw foods company at age 56!”

Bio: Sequoia Cheney is a Living Light certified gourmet raw food chef. As the Founder/CEO of Wonderfully Raw Gourmet and creator of Coco-Roons, she is proud that her company has grown in just two and a half short years, and is now distributing deliciously healthy Coco-Roons in a variety of flavors to over 1000 stores nationwide-and still growing rapidly. Wonderfully Raw Gourmet, a family business, includes husband Jack Cheney, son Eric Hara, a renowned chef from New York, and daughter in-law Carly Hara.

Read more about Sequoia.


Name: Jennifer McClelland

Location: Beijing, China
Career: Jennifer is part of a new generation of “eco-chefs” who delight in merging raw culinary arts with sustainable living. She teaches raw foods in China and does consulting with individuals, corporations and restaurants to help them create healthy menu options.
Certification(s): Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor™

Personal: Loves to spend time with her husband, create new raw recipes with exotic ingredients and help people with allergies and food sensitivities.

Quote: “Attending Living Light was a life changing experience, from the incredible people I met to learning the fine art of great tasting cuisine. The Living Light experience is much more than learning healthy recipes and culinary skills, it is about gaining a deeper perspective on health and well being, and doing so in a delicious way.”

Bio: Jennifer is proud to be a part of a group of health conscious chefs and teachers who are changing the face of contemporary cuisine in China – she teaches raw food classes at the World Health Store, with locations in both Beijing and Shanghai. As a raw food advocate in the region, she does everything from training people in their own homes to working with corporations and restaurants to help them create healthy menu options with more raw vegan choices. Although she had some trouble finding ingredients for traditional raw food dishes in China when she first embraced the lifestyle, she looks on that obstacle as a “blessing in disguise”, as she started experimenting with a wide range of exotic spices, vegetables and fruits to create fantastic ethnic flavors of the region. She was also runner up in a Living Light Hot Raw Chef contest! Her website is:

Read more about Jennifer.


Name: Judita Wignall

Location: Long Beach, California
Career: Raw Food Instructor, Recipe Book Author, Actress, Musician
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves rock-and-roll music

Quote: “I’m so grateful that I followed my passion and attended Living Light. I could never have done all I have so quickly without the expert training I received. I now have a book deal with a great publishing company, I’ve been invited to teach classes all over the country, I’m developing products for clients, and I’ve been invited to cater retreats in beautiful, tropical locations. I had no idea of the varied opportunities that exist in the world of raw food, and I’m beyond excited to see where this road will take me to next.”

Bio: Living Light Associate Chef and Instructor Judita Wignall is a musician and actress who loves rock and roll. Her all girl band the Halo Friendlies earned a gold record with a version of Me vs. the World. Judita is the “Judy Nails” character in the wildly successful video game Guitar Hero, and she has appeared on episodes of CSI: New York, Charmed, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Judita came to raw foods a little reluctantly. Previously she had never enjoyed being in the kitchen, but when she realized how nourishing and healing raw food cuisine can be, everything changed. Dropping 15 pounds in just one month, Judita noticed that she had lots of energy and a mental clarity she hadn’t felt in ages. She became “obsessed” with making raw food as delicious as possible, and bought every raw food book she could find. When she came to Living Light she had no idea of how the training would change her life. Energized and inspired, she couldn’t wait to start teaching classes and coming up with her own repertoire of raw food recipes. She found herself a working Hollywood actress by day and a raw chef by night. Judita’s first recipe book is “Going Raw.”

Read more about Judita.


Name: Made Runatha

Location: Bali
Career: Gourmet Raw Food Chef
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves food garnishing; Carved all the Living Light Inn Halloween pumpkins in 2009

Quote: “His practical skills and knowledge combined with his natural born creative culinary talents combine to make Made one of the leading chefs in Asia and we are all very grateful to Living Light.” ~ Lahra Tatriele, co-owner and founder Fivelements Puri Ahimsa

Bio: Chef Made Runatha, a Living Light Gourmet Raw Food Chef is making a name for himself at one of the finest facilities in Asia. At Fivelements Puri Ahimsa, Chef Made is surrounded by tropical beauty, creating gourmet living food for the beautiful healing retreat center nestled along the Ayung River in Bali. Fivelements is part of an eco-conscious business hoping to promote peace among nations through an alliance of healing centers worldwide. As a classically trained chef, he’s especially excited about the discovery of new flavors as he revisits the classics with knowledge gained at Living Light in marinating, dehydrating, sprouting, and flavor combining in exciting new ways.

Read more about Made.


Name: Agathe Mathieu

Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Career: Restaurant Owner, Tao in Vancouver, B.C.
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves sleeping outdoors, spending time with family, and inspiring people to live a healthy and happy life.

Quote: “I want to know what we are creating, not what we are destroying,” she says. ”When people talk about the bad news, I tell them the good news. What inspires me is what I can do with a raw food café – I want it to be a new kind of community – a place where people can come together to meet, to learn, to share, and to heal.”

Bio: In 2003, newly single and mother of three young children, Agathe needed to find work – she found herself suddenly in the job market. Although she had been managing a household and raising her kids, in the eyes of potential employers she wasn’t very marketable. What to do now?! When she read 12 Steps to Raw Food by Victoria Boutenko, Agathe decided to became raw overnight. She started eating raw foods and in only three months was totally amazed by all of the benefits she received. Her arthritis was totally gone, and troubling skin rashes disappeared. Her raw family required no doctors, no medication, no pills, and her kids did not suffer from hyperactivity. She started making such delicious food that friends were telling her to get her products on the market. Since she had been a homemaker for many years without marketable skills other than sewing, the jobs she was offered were in the $10 an hour range. “I’ll work for myself!” she thought. She went online and found Living Light Culinary Institute, and in March 2007, she completed her Associate Chef and Instructor certification.

Read more about Agathe.


Name: Jason Wrobel

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Career: Raw food chef and instructor, creates videos, and is in negotiation for a cable television program highlighting a healthy lifestyle.
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves to travel, explore new places, and start new aspects of his business.

Quote: “I came away from the school feeling totally empowered,” he says. “The curriculum at Living Light Culinary Institute offers such a wide swath of comprehensive information. I left the school armed with a whole new skill set, and I was ready to move into my career as a raw chef.”

Bio: After graduating from Living Light, Jason headed for New York, where he was head chef at Matthew Kenney’s Jiva Muktea Café, serving a variety of raw and cooked vegan dishes. In San Francisco, Jason served private clients, honing his skills. Now in Los Angeles, he loves the city because of the responsiveness of the people who live there. “There is definitely a demand for my services here,” he says. “I always have plenty of steady work, and I’ve been privileged to work with a number of celebrities who want to be slim and fit, and who need bundles of energy to keep up with all day shooting schedules, and the demands of their profession. The raw food community is huge here, with so many restaurants, parties, potlucks, meet up groups, raw food vendors and caterers at events – it is mind-blowing!” His first video, Jason Wrobel’s Simple Vegan Classics, 10 Everyday Raw Food Recipes for Health and Longevity is part of a video series highlighting his simple cuisine.

Read more about Jason.


Name: Anna Fialova

Location: Czech Republic
Career: Raw Food Chef, Caterer, Recipe Development, Teaching Raw Foods
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Advanced Raw Culinary Arts Instructor Training

Personal: Wants to help children and diabetics improve their health while enjoying delicious, flavorful, nutrition packed recipes.

Quote: “I’m amazed at everything I’ve learned here, and, I’ve met so many wonderful people. We’re all interested in the same things, and we’ll be able to email, chat, and stay in touch, sharing recipes, ideas, and inspiration from the wonderful experiences we’ve had here at Living Light. It is so beautiful. I wish everyone could have an opportunity to learn what I’ve learned here.”

Bio: Coming to Living Light as a student was a “dream come true” for Anna Fialová from Czech Republic. Her enthusiasm and love of all she learned about raw food and culinary arts at Living Light is contagious. She found out about our programs while she was executive chef at a vegetarian and vegan fine dining establishment in Prague. Before learning about raw foods, Anna trained and was certified as a professional chef in her native country. One day she opened her computer and discovered Living Light. She couldn’t believe it…she kept putting it out of her mind, because it seemed so difficult to earn enough money to come to the school and complete her training. But the thought would not go away. She knew she MUST attend our school. So she worked 3 jobs for a time and saved enough money. With the blessing of her boyfriend she arrived in Fort Bragg and began her studies.

Read more about Anna.


Name: Elisabeth Gard

Location: Norway
Career: Nutritionist, Teaches raw food classes
Certification(s): Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves skiing and being outdoors, teaching skiing to children, traveling, spending time with family and friends.

Quote: “It is a wonderful idea to make a list of all your dreams that you want to come true. Even without realizing it, most of the things you have in your life today once started as a hopeful dream – so if your dream is to attend Living Light and learn how to prepare beautiful, healthy raw food, your dream can definitely come true!

Bio: The summer when I was 14 years old, I worked as a milkmaid on a mountain pasture with my best friend Marianne. In the pasture was a calf and I immediately became fond of him. He was so cute, with a light coat and beautiful big round eyes. He followed his mother everywhere as she grazed in the fields. During the following weeks, I spent a lot of time with him, and our bond grew strong… my experience with this dear little calf put me on the path to becoming a vegetarian, but I’ve always enjoyed eating fruit and vegetables. I was first introduced to raw food as a teenager, when some family members started to explore the raw food diet. From the first moment, I loved visiting them and tasting all the wonderful vegetable juices, sesame milk, nuts and seeds. My deep love for animals gradually led me to become a vegan and today I flourish on a diet of primarily raw, organic plant food. I have a Bachelors Degree in Nutrition and I’m a certified Raw Food Chef and Instructor from Living Light Culinary Institute. At the moment, I am living on a beautiful hillside in Norway, surrounded by nature. I love skiing and being outdoors. During the wintertime, I work as a ski-instructor for children – a wonderfully inspiring and refreshing occupation. My website, Butterfly Nutrition, encourages visitors to “flourish on pure, raw plant food.”

Read more about Elisabeth.


Name: Sunita Vira

Location: Singapore
Career: Owner of The Raw Food Centre, Singapore
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Traveling, Fundraising

Quote: “The Living Light education I received has been the essence of my inspiration. I wear your chef jacket with pride!”

Bio: Sunita Vira, a certified Gourmet Raw Food Chef, is founder of The Raw Food Centre, Singapore. With her Indian heritage and background in art, Sunita loves to explore her creative passions with ethnic flavors from many cultures. She enjoys the delicate balance of color, flavor, texture, taste, smell and visual appeal of specialty cuisines like Asian Fusion, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, and Thai. As part of her community and educational outreach, Sunita donated all of the class fees from her initial classes to varied charities. Sunita’s husband’s company agreed to match her donations to benefit a variety of worthwhile causes. The commercial aspect of Sunita’s company will include selling packaged raw food products to retail supermarkets.

Read more about Sunita.


Name: Brenda Hinton

Location: Napa, California
Career: Living Light Associate Chef and Instructor™, Founder of Rawsome Creations in St. Helena, California
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Pastry Arts-Unbaked!™

Personal: International Charities, Community Work

Quote: “What began as a simple journey has grown into a career path filled with encouragement, growth, creativity, and excitement. I’m now teaching at Whole Foods Markets, assisting international organizations, and helping in many locations throughout the world. The foundation of knowledge and skill I’ve received at Living Light has helped me launch projects I would not have dreamed possible!”

Bio: A certified Living Light Associate Chef and Instructor who now teaches at Living Light, Brenda is the founder of Rawsome Creations in St. Helena, California. Brenda’s passion is teaching others how to prepare gourmet raw foods. She also helps support two charities in Indonesia with revenues from her line of nut milk bags, fair trade produced in Bali. One of the projects dearest to Brenda’s heart is her position as Project Director for the Ceres Community Project in Napa Valley. She loves the educational part of this important community effort, which weaves together relationships between farmers, local food producers, young people, and those with health challenges. Brenda will be one of the Living Light instructors taking FUNdamentals of Raw Living Foods™ on the road.

Read more about Brenda.


Name: Beate von der Osten

Location: Japan
Career: Raw Food Science & Culinary Arts Educator, Japanese Translator
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor, Benefits of Raw Food Nutrition Certification, Advanced Raw Food Nutrition Education Certification, Instructor Empowerment Kits

Personal: Marathons & Triathalons

Quote: “I am extremely grateful to Living Light Culinary Institute for both my culinary training and the Science of Raw Food Nutrition courses. I’ve been provided with a rock-solid foundation enabling me to pass on my knowledge here in Japan. My scientific appetite for factual information was satisfied when I attended Drs. Rick and Karen Dina’s classes on the Science of Raw Food Nutrition. The facts just blew me away. I was given extremely well researched and undisputable proof of the reasons a well-balanced raw food diet with an emphasis on greens is so beneficial for health.”

Bio: German native Beate von der Osten is both a Living Light Gourmet Raw Food Chef and a Science of Raw Food Nutrition Advanced Educator who lives and works in Japan. She created a 24 classroom-hours lecture series on the Science of Raw Food Nutrition, which she teaches in Japanese under the auspices of The Japan Beauty Association. Japan, like other modern industrialized countries, faces health challenges including Type II Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and childhood obesity.

Read more about Beate.


Name: Natalie Cottrell

Location: Fort Bragg, California
Career: Raw food chef, teacher and caterer; also works as an independent site manager and security professional for regional production companies.
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves making food, gardening, dancing, riding and repairing bicycles, learning new things and spending time with her family and her sweetheart.

Bio: After working in the music entertainment industry for 14 years coordinating volunteer security and site crew operations, Natalie Cottrell switched careers and began working at the Noyo Food Forest Learning Garden as the volunteer coordinator. The availability of farm fresh produce helped Natalie decide to get back into her original passion—creating amazing food. Natalie is working to bridge the gap between the local school meal programs and community supported agriculture.

Read more about Natalie.


Name: Jaylene Johnson

Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Career: Raw Food Instructor, Raw Nutrition Educator
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor, Benefits of Raw Food Nutrition Certification, Advanced Raw Food Nutrition Education Certification

Personal: Active Mom to 8 children

Quote: “Part of the joy of the Living Light experience comes from meeting people from literally, ALL over the world. I recently stayed at Living Light Inn, and the feeling there of kindness and cooperation is something very special. I have counted my blessings for finding Living Light Culinary Institute so often. Cherie has had a significant impact on my life, and I know there are people all over the world who feel the same way I do. I can say ‘thank you’ best by sharing what I have learned with all those who have the interest and desire to learn.”

Bio: Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Advanced Raw Food Nutrition educator Jaylene Johnson lives in Idaho, and is the mother of eight children. Jaylene has always had an interest in health and fitness. When she experienced a life-changing health challenge in 2001, she realized that she needed optimum health and energy to complete the task of mothering her large family. She began classes when Living Light was still at Harbin Hot Springs, and in 2006, brought her daughter Kelsi to Living Light to study gourmet raw cuisine with her mother at the age of twelve. Kelsi has continued with her raw food journey and is now a wonderful raw food chef in her own right. Jaylene continues to teach raw foods and raw food nutrition in her community.

Read more about Jaylene.


Name: Chantale Roy

Location: British Columbia, Canada
Career: College Professor, Cafe Owner
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Spending time with her two children and enjoying the out-of-doors

Quote: “Spending a month at Living Light and returning again both as a student and as a Kitchen Angel has been a true healing experience in my life,” says Chantale. “It has helped me remember who I am. I am free to create, to live, to love, and to be all that I am meant to be.”

Bio: Living Light Associate Chef and Instructor Chantale Roy has done a lot of interesting things with her Living Light education. She opened a café, Rawfreshing Cuisine, in Nelson, B.C. and is co-creator of a line of raw chocolates, Rawsta Flora Organics. She has also collaborated in designing and developing more than 20 manufactured raw products. Currently she works with varied organizations in consulting and product development, and is writing a raw recipe book in French and English. Teaching is her number one priority, and she is the first Living Light graduate to teach raw foods at the university level, at the University of British Columbia, where she created an innovative introductory program teaching raw vegan cuisine.

Read more about Chantale.


Name: Kirsten Gum

Location: Ecuador
Career: Travel TV host & Owner of “Raw Trips” retreats
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Loves yoga, hiking & traveling

Quote: “I was blessed to come to Living Light and gained so much knowledge and love from them that now I feel it is my duty in life to go out and share with others. I love being able to show people that you can eat yummy foods with beautiful five-star presentation that is also good for your body. I came here for personal enrichment and it’s turned into a career.”

Bio: Living Light Gourmet Raw Food Chef Kirsten Gum’s fun-loving spirit and passion for extreme experiences have helped her build an unconventional career, first in television and adventure travel, and now with the healing power of raw food and her company Raw Trips. Her main focus is to bring gourmet raw food to the mainstream. A certified yoga instructor, Kirsten loves teaching others how to live a green, sustainable lifestyle and sets a great example. She gave up her car several years ago, and keeps fit with running, biking, hiking, and daily yoga. Raw Trips does weekend retreats and week-long immersions offering raw food instruction, yoga classes, meditation, travel excursions, and entertainment. Raw Trips retreats also include the cultural and historical aspects of beautiful places like Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador.

Read more about Kirsten.


Name: Jodee Capo

Location: Seattle, WA
Career: Restaurant owner, recipe development, wholesales raw vegan desserts
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Spending time with family and friends, and creating raw vegan desserts.

Quote: “Harbin planted the seed for me, and when I worked with Cherie and the staff at Living Light in Fort Bragg, I knew I wanted to explore what I could do as a person – what I could accomplish on my own.”

Bio: Jodee Capo received her Associate Chef certification when Living Light was still located at Harbin Hot Springs. The year was 2004, and Living Light was still a self-described “gypsy culinary school.” In those days, it took 17 people three days to set up a classroom and kitchen at Harbin several times each year. After we opened our permanent location in Fort Bragg, Jodee returned with the specific intention of learning how to set up a professional kitchen and café. It was then that she found her passion in desserts. Cherie mentored Jodee closely, and she learned skills that she would need to eventually set up her own professional kitchen as a business owner. Jodee’s Desserts opened on Valentine’s Day 2011. “Our goal is to reach a mainstream audience with our delicious desserts. So you see, thanks to Living Light, that little seed planted at Harbin has kept growing all of these years!”

Read more about Jodee.


Name: Alicia Ojeda

Location: Austin, Texas
Career: Raw food chef, teacher and consultant worldwide
Certification(s): Professional Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Spending time with her family, and continuing her raw food journey to optimum health.

Quote: “I am very grateful that I discovered the world of raw food at Living Light with Cherie Soria and Living Light trained instructors Jenny Cornbleet, Matt Samuelson, and Elaina Love. Living Light Culinary Institute is amazingly fertile ground for aspiring chefs and instructors.”

Bio: 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. She has worked with prestigious companies like Bon Appetit Management Company, Sony Music, DreamWorks Studio, Roxanne’s Fine Cuisine, and Beets Café in Austin. She is currently teaching FUNdamentals on the Road™ with Living Light, and working with Dr. Douglas Graham and his Simply Delicious Cuisine concept. More excited about raw foods now than ever before, Alicia discovering optimum health through eating lighter foods and incorporating exercise in her life. “The most important thing for me now is to be a healthy, fit person and a good grandmother to my 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.”

Read more about Alicia.


Name: Tina Jo Stephens

Location: Baja, CA and Mexico
Career: Gourmet raw vegan chef, author, speaker, and coach. Creates DVDs and has her own show, Splendor in the Raw
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor, Pastry Arts-Unbaked!™

Personal: Creating a haven for rescued animals, including dogs, cats, horses, goats, and even a mule!

Quote: “I believe it was through the power of living foods that I learned to nourish my body, mind and spirit rather than just feeding emotions – finally allowing me to lay my food addictions to rest.”

Bio: Chef Tina Jo began her raw vegan journey back in 1999 when a friend suggested a vegan detox program to help alleviate debilitating ovarian and uterine cysts. “I’d tried everything – that is, every western drug and test available to womankind. It never occurred to me it could be my diet causing such havoc in my body!” Tina Jo was so amazed at how good she felt after her first detox. The change from the Standard American Diet to raw veganism not only cured her of the ovarian cysts and tumors but seemed to be just what she needed to free herself from a history of emotional eating which had led to recurring bouts of anorexia and bulimia for a decade. Tina Jo has made it her life’s mission to bring super delicious, fresh, simple, fun, affordable raw vegan food to the mainstream.

Read more about Tina Jo.


Name: Chef Ito

Location: Fountain Valley, California
Career: Raw Food Restaurant Chef
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Compassion for all living things and creating special indulgences for times when nothing but something slightly decadent will do!

Quote: “We are all merely and wonderfully human, with no man-made borders to divide us.”

Bio: Living Light graduate Chef Ito is bringing gourmet raw food to Au Lac restaurant in Fountain Valley, California. He is a proponent of what he has dubbed “Humanese” cuisine. He coined to term Humanese because of his belief that we all have more in common than we realize. Chef Ito believes that to survive and thrive as humans, we must have compassion for everything on the planet: animals, plants, and above all each other. He creates delicious dishes to awaken the taste buds to the delights of plant based foods, and endeavors to provide cuisine that helps with the transition to vegetarian and living foods while helping his clients support and maintain their commitment to health. His creative menu options include a Chef’s Hand Roll with nori, rice, sprouts, avocado, daikon, natto, onion and mustard, a Chimichurri Dip with “garlic bread,” Pistachio bread with raisins, macadamia nuts and spices, a variety of “living soups” as well as delicious entrees and specialty dishes.

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Name: Michelle Irwin

Location: Sacramento, CA
Career: Raw Food chef and Recipe Book Author
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor, Pastry Arts-Unbaked!™

Personal: Loves being with her children, and feels that at Living Light she has found her new family and connected very deeply with people from all over the world.

Quote: “My husband’s death helped me realize how to really live and cherish each moment. I didn’t yet have the tools to create a new career, but my time at Living Light has brought me back to life and helped me recapture my joy in doing what I love to do.”

Bio: Michelle Irwin has just published her first book, Sugar-Free Raw Desserts Sweetened with Stevia. Her journey to raw food has been both challenging and inspirational. She served in the military for nearly 5 years, and left with a medical discharge for an auto immune disease. Doctors did not have a remedy for her condition. In 1996 she didn’t really know where to turn. She started doing some cleansing and research into natural healing. In 2003, she discovered raw food. She was intrigued, but not quite ready to take the plunge. In 2010, she and her husband attended Optimum Health Institute in California, and learned more about raw food. Michelle interned at a raw food restaurant, The Green Boheme in Sacramento, where she learned the beginnings of raw food preparation from the owner, Brooke Preston, a Living Light graduate. Brook had planted the seed, and Michelle wanted to learn more about raw food and healing. In May 2010, Michelle’s husband was tragically killed in a bicycle accident. She quit her job to be with her children, Katie (now 8) and Luke (now 3), and found healing in the kitchen.

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Name: Terilynn Epperson

Location: Fort Bragg, CA
Career: Executive Assistant at Living Light, blogger, video editor, gourmet raw food chef
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor, Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor

Personal: Spending time with husband Cory and three children Donavan, Bishop, and Avery. Her other daughter Jordan also comes to visit the family in Fort Bragg. Playing with her iPad and training for the Tough Mudder! She and husband Cory are writing a short screenplay a day for a year.

Quote: Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that’s in us. ~Angela Bassett

Bio: Terilynn is intelligent, focused, self-motivated, and very dedicated to the success to our students and our company. She’s like a ray of sunshine in our lives, and we’re grateful that her smile brightens every day. She is always willing to help others, no matter how busy she is. After graduating from Living Light as a Gourmet Raw Food Chef, Terilynn fell in love with Fort Bragg and the Mendocino coast, and realized that she wanted to live and work here. We’re all very grateful that she did!

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Name: Jill Kilpatrick

Location: Burlington, Vermont
Career: Teaching raw foods, and working with local organic farmers and nonprofits to bring raw food to her region.
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Jill’s website is “After I got well, I felt like I had superpowers-I have a whole new lease on life.”

Quote: “I didn’t go to college, and I want high school kids to know that programs like Living Light Culinary Institute are an option for creating a career. The value of the education I received here is simply unbelievable. It seemed like a lot of money before I came, but it was well worth the investment.”

Bio: Jill Kilpatrick found Living Light when she recovered from aplastic anemia, a serious condition affecting the bone marrow. The disease had so compromised her immune system that at age 26 she was missing 3-5 days of work every week, and had to wear a surgical mask nearly all the time. Doctors told her that they could do nothing for her. She started eating about 60% raw food, and in just a few months, her health improved radically. She was back to work within two months. She now feels healthier and happier than she did before she got sick. She entered the Hot Raw Chef™ 5 in 5 Video Recipe Contest, and with her winnings as runner up, she decided to fulfill her dream of becoming a Living Light student. Getting all of the funds together to attend took some time. She lived with her parents for six months and saved money to pursue her dream of becoming a Living Light graduate. She wants to return the school to take the Gourmet Raw Food Chef™ course, and also plans to volunteer as a kitchen angel.

Click here to read more about Jill…

Name: Lisa Dymond

Location: Yukon, Canada
Career: Teaches raw food classes, yoga, and is a speech and language pathologist working with children.
Certification(s): Associate Chef and Instructor

Personal: Lisa describes the significance of her ongoing living food experience as the archetypal ‘hero’s journey.’ Each step she takes on the path presents fascination, challenge, and growth.

Quote: “I teach raw foods in a place where there is lots of cold weather, and I need to know how to create raw food warm that warms the heart as well as the stomach.”

Bio: Living Light graduate Lisa Dymond is enthusiastic about living a fulfilling life and meeting her full potential (as well as encouraging others on the path!) She combines yoga with raw cuisine as important tools to reach that ideal. Lisa knows that good food has the capacity to nourish the body and delight the senses on all levels. She joyfully shares her knowledge with friends and her community. A practicing speech and language pathologist and certified yoga instructor, Lisa also integrates yoga with speech and language goals for children with special needs.

Click here to read more about Lisa…

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