Getting to Know chelsea cole
In this community profile, Chelsea shares the inspiration behind Fare & Flourish, what her naturopathic practice is like, and a lot of food musings. Read on to learn about her comfort food and favourite cookbooks.
Please start by telling us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to create Fare & Flourish.
My name is Chelsea, and I am a co-founder of Fare & Flourish. Originally I am from Newfoundland, and am currently living in Victoria, BC. By the time I was in naturopathic medical school, I had already cultivated a love of food and cooking, but it was learning about botanical medicine and nutrition that sparked my interest in creating a website about food as medicine. I loved sharing information about the benefits of common culinary herbs and spices, but knew that I also wanted to acknowledge the complexities of food and food systems. In a lot of ways Fare & Flourish is an extension of what Sarah and I chat about while cooking and eating together, and I am so grateful that she is similarly interested in researching and discussing the complex nature of food culture.
What is your day job?
I am a naturopathic doctor at Juniper Family Health, and enjoy working with young women who want to address menstrual concerns and hormone health. I write a monthly article series for the Juniper blog called, “Getting to Know Your Menstrual Cycle,” and really love the opportunity to destigmatize periods by sharing this type of information. In addition, I love discussing how food and botanicals can help support health, and feel so satisfied when I can help people improve their relationship to food.
What is your favourite part of creating Fare & Flourish?
I love when Sarah and I get together to cook, style, and photograph food. Sarah takes all of the lovely photos, which means that I get to work on my hand modelling. It is always so much fun, and involves eating delicious food at the end of the day. I also really enjoy writing, and feel like writing articles for Fare & Flourish is really helping to develop this skill.
The phrase, “you are what you eat,” is often used to describe how food is a determinant of health. However, both humans and food are much more complex and nuanced than that. So, what does the phrase, “you are what you eat,” mean to you?
I don’t like the phrase, “you are what you eat,” when it is used to reference the connection between food and health, because it doesn’t consider accessibility. Not everyone has the same access to safe and nutritious foods, and no one should be shamed for that. However, I think that this phrase can be interpreted in other ways, and I like to think about the broader role that food plays in my life. Nostalgia, comfort, curiosity, connection, and joy all play a role in deciding what to eat, and in that way food is a way to access those feelings.
What food do you think is most underrated?
Enoki mushrooms! I know that they are popular in some East Asian cuisine, but I haven’t encountered them, except at the grocery store, in many recipes or restaurants. I often use them like noodles in soup.
Is there a recipe or dish that changed you?
I was a vegetarian for a few years in my early twenties, and while it felt great for a while, I remember starting to feel restricted as time went on. So, when my sister ordered oysters at a restaurant, I let myself try one. It was delicious. After this, I gradually started incorporating more seafood into my diet, and eventually meat. Following a vegetarian diet made me a much better cook, and introduced me to many foods and flavours that I had never tried, but now I feel like I have a better understanding of what foods feel good in my body and prefer to use this as a guide. I also learned that cooking and trying new food brought me a lot of joy, and I like to be open to food exploration.
Are there cookbooks or books about food you are currently enamoured with and/or often revisit? What are they, and why do you love them?
I remember flipping through the pages of David Lebovitz’s book, “My Paris Kitchen,” and thoroughly enjoying reading about mustard and looking at the beautiful photos of pastry. I have made the buckwheat crêpes and madeleines so many times! I love his writing, and how each recipe has a story and is accompanied by beautiful photographs. It always makes me want to run away to Paris and go to cooking school.
Recently, I was given “Vegetable Kingdom,” by Bryant Terry and want to work my way through every recipe in the book. The food is gorgeous, and each recipe comes with a suggested song to listen to while cooking, which is just so cool.
What is your comfort food?
Homemade bread, fresh from the oven, with butter.
What is your earliest food memory?
It is a little hard to say, but picking blueberries in Newfoundland is certainly among my earlier food memories.
What is your fondest food memory?
It is difficult to say which food memory has been the fondest, because there have been so many lovely memories. One of them would be the Fare & Flourish launch dinner! It was exciting to make the first few recipes on the website for friends and celebrate the beginning of this food website journey.
When you cook, you are ________.
Relaxed and feeling creative.
Do you have a food goal or cooking aspiration?
I want to make more chilli pastes at home, like harissa, or Thai chilli paste. I also want to learn more about preserving, and start making preserved lemons especially.
What is your staple dish for a potluck?
I know that you aren’t supposed to bring untested recipes to a potluck, but I often will bring something that I have never tried before. I really love cooking new food, and a potluck often seems like a good time to try new recipes. I especially love bringing dessert, and brought olive oil & lemon cake to a few potlucks.
What is on your grocery list?
My grocery list usually consists of legumes, root vegetables, greens, seasonal fruits, and chocolate. With that said, I’ll often be inspired by recipes I see on Instagram, and then will plan groceries around that.
What do you feel like eating for dinner tonight?
I feel like eating a salad with chewy grains, like faro, spring vegetables, and a lemony dressing. Maybe with a side of salmon.
What is your most memorable meal? Why?
My most memorable meals are usually those I eat when travelling. I remember sitting in the back of a friend’s car after Nathan and I just landed in Jamaica happily eating jerk pork out of aluminum foil. Or, the many plates of spaghetti and clams consumed in Italy. Or, eating coconut bread French toast in Little Corn Island, Nicaragua with Sarah and Stephen.
Where do you love to eat in Victoria?
COVID-19 has illuminated many of the existing problems in our society, including food insecurity. We wanted to learn more about who is most affected, and discuss why these conversations are necessary, especially in the health and wellness world.
Ariel and Jess Reyes Barton are the creators of Palenke Greens, which is a burlap sack gardening initiative aimed at assisting people of African descent facing food insecurity. Not only do they provide all of the supplies to create a burlap sack garden, they also help to install it, and have exciting ideas for the future.
Nathan Smith is the photographer behind most of the portraits on Fare & Flourish, and many other interesting photo projects besides. We are so grateful to be able to showcase his beautiful visions on our website.