Interview with Kimberly Parsons, Naturapath, Chef and Author of “The Yoga Kitchen”
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR STORY?
I’m a naturopath, chef and author and entrepreneur with a passion for food, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I was born in Australia and brought up in a Sicilian/British household where food played a central part of my upbringing. I was fortunate to grow up collecting fresh produce from our vegetable garden and cooking fresh homemade pasta with my Sicilian grandmother. This love for food and nature directed me towards becoming a naturopath and after university I started practicing in a clinic in Melbourne. Having sought treatment myself through Naturopathy for an early on-set of stress and fatigue; I poured all my passion into treating patients’ ailments by explaining how the body related to its external environment and how nutrition & herbal medicine could heal us more holistically.
In my mid twenties however, I felt that I lacked the wisdom and experience to fully become the practitioner I wanted. This is when I picked up and went to Italy for two years, with summers in Tuscany and winters in the French Alps working as a chef during Ski Season. This journey promoted me to write my first book “Suitcases of Recipes” and then moving to London as a private Chef.
In London, I discovered Yoga. After an eye-opening moment at a candle-lit yoga class I realised that I had found peace and a feeling of being alive again. Once again, my life took another turn that evening as I took up a part-time receptionist job at “The Power Yoga Company” in Parsons Green, Fulham.
Six months later the owners of the Yoga Studio asked me to open a café within their studio and from there the brand “Retreat” was born in September 2013 – a healthy eating, vegetarian food café. This was followed by a second café at Triyoga Soho in May 2014 and a third café in May 2015 in Autumn.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT POSITION / JOB?
I have just launched my new venture which is a 6 Week Wellness Plan. This is a tailored and completely bespoke plan utilising naturopathic principles, food, nutrition and healthy living. This completely holistic approach that will “feed your change’ and restore your help. I take my clients through a process that reconnects people to themselves and to understand what they actually need.
WHEN DID YOU START GIVING BACK AND BEING SOCIALLY INVOLVED?
From a young age I always liked to give back and be in contact with people. When I was young I would instinctively show my friends the vegetable garden and make them try my food. When I was older I felt I wanted to share my knowledge on food and herbs and help people be healthier, happier and lead a more balanced life. This is why cooking became a way of giving to people.
TELL ME A PROJECT OR ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR CAREER?
Opening and running 3 successful Retreat Cafés, alongside a fully operational commercial kitchen was a great accomplishment. Managing 45 members of staff and meeting the demands of Café’s open 14 hours a day, 7 days a week was a challenge which I met head on for three years; building a brand name at the same time.
Mostly, becoming an author and publishing my books. In Autumn 2015 I received a book deal to write “The Yoga Kitchen” which went on sale over 9 countries worldwide. I wrote this book in 6 weeks and poured all my heart and soul in it. Seeing my face smiling back from book shelves was surreal; however the success that I encountered filled me with pride and gratitude.
WHAT IS SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOU?
It is looking after the planet in any small way we can. I strongly believe in sustainability and teach my clients not to waste any food. It is not necessarily about people giving away, but it can be something simple like purchasing from socially responsible brands and/or making intelligent consumer choices. For example, the Retreat Café’ donated 50p to charity for every smoothie sold. In this way our clients were giving away regularly, just by making informed choices on where to spend their money and how that profit was going to re-distributed back. A difference can be made by small, manageable everyday choices.
WHICH ORGANISATION/S DO YOU WORK WITH?
I am an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I am very focused on children and love teaching them what food is and how important it is for our health. Teaching small children from a young age, about naturally sourced ingredients and how to prepare them, is key to ensuring they do not turn to ready made, pre-packaged food and snacks which are now proven to have a negative impact on our health.
There are many small companies working in this direction, focusing on providing locally sourced, organic, sustainable produce from ethical farms and sources. I have always supported Abel & Cole and Riverford Organic Farmers as they deliver 100% organic food to your door – the vegetables and fruit arrives with mud still on it so you know the produce has not been chemically stripped by washing and handling as in big supermarket chains.
WHAT ARE THE VALUES YOU’D LIKE TO SEE IN YOUNGER GENERATIONS?
Id like to see children getting into touch again with seasons, cycles, nature and the rythems of the world. This simple life and contact with nature, gives a sense of simplicity which then translates into honesty. I’d also like to see a sense of family and connection re- instated as many of the people today feel isolated from communities. I really don’t like seeing children on electronic devices at restaurants, during a meal, as this is a moment to come together and to share.
WHAT IS YOUR SUPER POWER?
There are two powers that go in unison. I have a strong radar for what is right, which in turn becomes a single- minded focus that turns into determination.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
I am totally addicted to Pod Casts by Rich Roll and I love Dr. Frank Lipman a medical Pioneer and International expert in Functional and Integrative Medicine.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE WE HUMAN BEINGS FACING?
We have lost the capacity to tune in with ourselves and listen to our body. People have gotten used to follow other people’s prescriptions – E.G. the doctor, the fitness instructor, mainstream diets and trends. However, when people don’t comply or they don’t listen to their own needs, there can be no change and improvement. People need to be empowered to choose their own life based on their own unique needs. This can only happen if people can do deeper within themselves and listen. This is why retreats are wonderful journeys of exploration, where you understand yourself and your body better at the end of it. I always encourage my clients to listen to yourself and don’t follow others.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE FUTURE?
There is an ever-growing Wellness Tribe that is coming together to make the world a better place.
More practically, by teaching children to love food, you are teaching them to treat the environment better and to look after nature’s gifts. They will learn how to look after nature and also how to look after themselves so that many aliments and diseases of today can be eliminated by correct nutrition and nourishment of our bodies.
WHAT DOES GIVING BACK MEAN TO YOU?
Use my experience to help others.
WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I have a very love & hate relationship with Social Media. I come from a generation that was not brought up with it and have found it very interfering. I think it makes people very reliant and isolated – personally, I have had a lot of anxiety around the fact that I felt I had to be connected all the time. Now I am able to use it exclusively as a business tool to communicate with the people that care about my brand and as a way to give people the information they need about my projects and events.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE OR THING TO DO?
I love being outdoors. I love Spring because you can see how the planet regenerates and creates beauty through a new season. My favourite place is Iceland, for its raw and untouched nature. I love to watch the formation of glaciers, the force of a waterfall or hot springs bursting out from the ground – I get a kick out of this nature overload.
My favourite restaurant must be The Fish Market restaurant in Reykjavic, as I get to try all the Tasting Menu and don’t have to choose what to order. Another place I love is Sicily, as I feel I return to my Italian roots.
WHEN HAVE YOU BEEN MOST SATISFIED IN LIFE?
During one of my retreats when at the end of a week’s journey together, clients come to me with a huge hug thanking me for helping them reconnect with themselves. Seeing my client’s health and life-balance improve through my wellness programs or workshops, always makes me feel good. See people’s change and happiness is a very fulfilling feeling.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?
Your health is your wealth.