Take a pin and place it right in the middle of the map of France and you’ll probably just be a few miles away from our little house in the country. The largest town was over 1-hour drive away, and our neighbours were sheep, geese, and cows. On our land, we had a couple of apple trees, one of the biggest pear trees I have ever seen (producing pears the size of my face, juicy and delicious). My father has also planted plum trees (my mum’s favourite fruit), and a few dozen of raspberry bushes, separating the garden from the lawn, also my mum’s favourite berry.
In the garden, my dad grew all sorts of vegetables. At the end of harvest, we would have over 50 kilos of fine green beans, and as many peas and cabbages. So much so that we would exchange our vegetables (and my mum’s amazing homemade bread and jams) for eggs and milk, chickens, and flour from the mill.
I discovered at a very young age that food was an important part of my life, that I was lucky enough to eat pure, organic, unadulterated food that tasted exquisite. And so, I spent many days in the kitchen with my mother, who loved cooking from scratch and trying new recipes from cooking books and magazines (in the days before the internet) that, it seems, she never had enough of.
At eight years old, I asked my dad to have my own little patch to grow seeds that I would be given by friends and farmers near our home. To my very own surprise, my dad agreed and soon after, I had a beautiful display of colour with sunflowers, corn, courgettes, beans, peas, and many more, crowded together. It was not the perfect vegetable garden, but I was so proud. To this day, I continue to grow my own organic vegetables and berries. I could not have it any other way.
My passion for food was so apparent from a young age that my dad had enrolled me in the nearest catering college. The very summer before starting school, I was told a friend needed a kitchen help. My parents thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to see if cooking was indeed the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And so, at 15, I had my first true experience with cooking professionally. And, I loved it. I made enough money to pay for my enrolment, my chef uniforms, and my very first set of knives.
At the practice restaurant at school, where people queued to eat, I learned the basics of cooking, twice a week, which was consolidated by compulsory training placements in restaurants over the summer, in addition to the national curriculum. Wanting to learn more, I moved back to the French Riviera, alone. My earliest memories of my life were filled with happy moments and I wanted to go back to my little ‘paradise’.
By the time I had completed another two years at one of the most prestigious catering colleges of my time — a week at school would usually be 64 hours long and will finish on the Friday at 22:30 pm —, I understood what the life of a chef would be.
It was not enough. I wanted to understand food inside out and reach for perfection. And so, I completed another two years of learning at the highest level.
I was so passionate about cooking and food that during my final practical examination (cooking a 3-course meal from scratch and supervising 2 commis chefs making another dish), one of the judges offered me a job for the summer right there as he was so impressed.
Within a few weeks after graduating, I was contacted by Alain Ducasse at the Louis XV in Monaco and from there my love for food grew to new heights, and so, when asked if I wanted to go to London to help out with one of his restaurants, I said yes.
I was ready for adventure.
At 21, I arrived in London with wide-opened eyes. A couple of years later, having decided to stay in the UK a little longer, I was given the biggest opportunity in my career. I was offered a short position as a private chef, to cater to a family and their friends and guests for a wedding in Ireland. Flying private jet, I was on top of the world. The principals were so impressed that I was asked to become their private chef permanently. And so, I became Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s private chef, cooking for the biggest stars and celebrities of the time, on a daily basis. It was magical. I had the best time of my life.
Two decades later, and I have worked on yachts, on planes, and traveled most of the world. It is always exciting to discover new places, but most importantly new foods, tastes, and flavours, understanding the techniques that are so different from Michelin training and making them part of my own repertoire.
But… There is a darker side to being a chef, especially a private chef.
I can work for four to six months without a day off and up to 20 hours in a day. I have been known to work for 36 hours non-stop, particularly when being the sole chef on a yacht. With people going to bed at different times, some requiring nibbles in the wee hours of the morning, and the early risers wanting to catch the first glimpse of the sun while enjoying a healthy breakfast, there was never a downtime for me to rest, and never more than three hours to sleep.
This is a life you would not want for anyone. And yet, it seemed to suit me very well.
A bad sleeper for as long as I can remember, I have developed coping mechanisms: I run on adrenaline all day, and while I am cooking the most exquisite and nutritious food, I have no time to eat — and to sleep.
It is with no surprise that most of my life I was plagued with many gut problems. It started when I was 12 years old.
Apparently, the anxious kind, I was not able to assimilate the amazing homegrown food served at the table. I received monthly injections and was given a soup of minerals and vitamins to put on weight. At age 15, I was still under 30 kilos.
Once a chef, it only got worse. Although, during my first summer training job, and due to the fact that I had left my parent’s home, I grew 20 centimeters in height and about 5 sizes of shoe in just over two months. My weight was normal for the very first time. Yet, my digestive system was not happy. Fed leftovers or food that was going off and no longer suitable to cook for customers, and eating in under 5 minutes, it was always a rush. I was dealing with constant bloating and severe constipation. My normal was going to the toilet once a week, sometimes ten days or more.
I was hospitalised at 23 because I was in excruciating pain due to not be able to go for three weeks. It was so critical that the x-ray was donated to medical school. The consultant had never seen such a severe case of constipation.
And so, I went on a journey to better understand my body, and with more and more of my clients wanting healthy meals, my style of cuisine changed overnight.
I started to understand the power of food. I tested for lactose and gluten intolerances and came back positive for both. This now explains why I was chronically malnourished, underweight and brain fogged most of my life.
This became the basis on which I wanted to learn more about the impact of food on the body and I enrolled without any hesitation in a nutrition diploma and in naturopathic medicine.
Saying I loved it is an understatement. I graduated at the top of my class and achieved the top mark for my essay on low thyroid. I had to wait for two months for my work to come back to me, as it was shared with all the branches of the school, as this had never happened before.
Coupling nutrition and cooking have allowed me to position myself very uniquely, providing exquisite services to the rich and famous, with optimum health at the core. And so, I naturally provide nutrition consultations as part of my clinic, and now also with Nourishing Insights, and cooking the plans from scratch for people that prefer to have someone taking over their kitchen and to adapt in real-time to their needs.
I also trained in NLP and mental health disorders to better understand the coping mechanisms people tend to find — as well as my own —, to help them reach a higher state of health, optimum physical and mental well-being, and emotional balance.
Mindfulness is now a complete part of my practice.
I dive deep into each system to find the root causes of symptoms clients come to see me in my clinic for and, 9 times out of 10, stress is the major trigger or the perpetrator.
Poor memory and concentration, brain fog and sleep, and digestive problems are the usual complaints. By addressing the main culprits in their lives — and in mine —, I am able to guide my clients along their journey, taking them from where they are today to where they want to be, and give them all the tools they need to succeed, to be healthier, happy and full of vitality, to live the life they ought to live.
I have never been happier than today. My gut has never been happier. I have finally found my ideal weight, my ideal diet, and most importantly I am in total control of my energy and blood sugar. No longer am I running solely on adrenaline. This new life I have been given and the experience has made me a reference for clients with burnout, sleep and mental health problems, and inflammatory disorders.
Above all, I am so thankful for the journey."
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WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING
“I did Nutritional Therapy with Beverley and it was life changing. I highly recommend it!” Allison Blakely (Glasgow)
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