eat Well, cook Well, and Be Well

Chef Linda Elbert

ABOUT

Park City, Utah and Laguna Beach, California are sensational communities I have had the good fortune to call home. Laguna Beach was the home my husband and I (a native Californian) chose, where my children grew up and where Mindful Cuisine began. Park City was a vacation home. Over time the snow-covered mountains, brilliant blue skies, moose and elk, and starry summer nights stole our hearts. In the fall of 2015, Park City became our year-round home.

Cooking and sharing meals at the table was an integral and fondly-remembered part of growing up. As an only child of parents who shared a love of good food, cooking, and entertaining, they passed their passion on to me by including me as a small child in their kitchen adventures. While I carried this love of cooking throughout my life, it never occurred to me to cook professionally. I completed a Master's degree in Communicative Disorders and began work with young children as a speech and language pathologist. Later, I completed a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and worked in private practice with children and adults with neurological disorders. I loved my career and had no plans to make any changes. However, once my own children were grown, I found myself with free time and thought it might be fun to attend the local professional culinary school. I loved it! I mean, I really loved it! One night, while out to dinner with my husband, I found myself saying, "I am thinking about closing my private practice and figuring out a way to work in the culinary world." (Later on, he told me I was lucky he didn't choke or fall off his chair, he was so shocked.)

I graduated with distinction from Laguna Culinary Arts with a classical European foundation in the kitchen. I later attended Living Light Culinary Institute - a raw vegan school. Then, I completed beginner through advanced courses from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. While attending school, I began reading about the way food is produced and distributed in the United States. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle inspired an interest in growing my own food and seeking out local food. I became involved with Slow Food, an international organization with the mission to promote "good, clean and fair food for all." I chaired the Slow Food Orange County chapter and California committee supporting the Ark of Taste - a project that aims to catalog and protect at-risk foods throughout the world that are sustainably produced, unique in taste, and part of a distinct eco-region. I worked with the Transition Laguna Beach group to build community gardens.

I set out to find my place in the world of food and eventually founded Mindful Cuisine. On that path, I taught at Laguna Culinary Arts, worked as a personal chef, did catering, developed recipes for olive oil and spice companies, offered "underground" Basement Table dinners, and began teaching cooking classes oriented around seasonal, local, and sustainably-produced ingredients. Most recently, I worked as part of a Farmer and Chef team at Farm to Fork Garden Design, teaching cooking and creating farm-based dinners in urban agriculture settings. 

Creating Community - An unexpected but welcome outcome of this venture into the world of food, farming, and concern about our food system was the creation of a community of cooks, gardeners, and food producers who enjoyed cooking and eating together. People came back again and again for the relationships and sense of belonging that developed around the stove and table. It was a bit magical. As I bring Mindful Cuisine to Park City, I hope to teach, inspire, and foster that sense of community once again.