As a Holistic Health Coach, I believe that every single person in the health and wellness space, no matter how different their beliefs may be, is really working towards a collective goal: to help others get and stay well. Every health advocate wants to inspire others to make healthy lifestyle changes, or see clients reach their most desired health goals – and we all have different ways of sharing our passions and knowledge to do exactly that. I believe we're all in this together and that the more we work together and share the wellth, the more people we will be able to reach and help, and the better off our world will be!
Because of this, I created a Women in Wellness Interview Series to share the different perspectives of five women that I find inspiring. Each of these women help others live healthy lives in different ways. My hope is that their stories and advice will resonate with you and maybe even spark some healthy lifestyle changes in your own life!
The first interview I'm sharing with you is with Amber Caudle, chef and owner of the Source Cafe in Hermosa Beach, CA.
The Source is a restaurant that I frequent because
1. The food, drinks + treats are ah-maaazing!
2. I pay close attention to what I put into my body, especially when eating out. The Source is one of the only places that I know I can trust the quality of ingredients.
So after meeting Amber at a women's wellness event in LA, I knew I had to interview her and share her story with you!
Amanda: You’re a chef, restaurant owner and healthy living advocate. Can you share how you got started on this journey and how your experiences led to you opening the Source Cafe?
Chef Amber: It’s been a long journey. I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 20 years. Food has always been my passion and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’m really blessed that since 8 years old I knew this was what I wanted to do. I started cooking in the kitchen with my grandma and was in charge of family meals. I did my culinary training in Colorado under a Southern Italian chef I apprenticed. After that, he asked me to come open up Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach and I was there for 10 years. That was hardcore, 70-hour work weeks with 12-15 hour days. On top of the workload, I was overexercising and found myself needing a hip scope at age 33.
I was spiritual; I prayed and meditated and was generally healthy. But I was addicted to sugar, I was partying too much and staying up too late. I had kind of a toxic lifestyle and my body was drained. I was addicted to caffeine, and towards the end of that career [at Mediterraneo] I felt awful.
After the hip surgery, the doctor was like, “here, take more medicine, take more pills, have another surgery.” It didn't sit right with me. I went away to this fasting retreat called We Care Spa, which is where I had my spiritual awakening. I started doing breath work and exercises from the book Healing, by David Elliot. The very first one asked me to 'list all the ways I love myself' and I literally could name one thing. I was like, 'Woah! That is not normal and I don’t want to live like this.' I was balling at this point at the retreat. I knew I didn’t want to be sick anymore. I had lost my period, I was addicted to sugar, I was overweight, I had headaches, I was groggy, had insomnia, constipation, my adrenals were blown. I was inflamed, probably because of the sugar, but I also had inflammation in my hips. My cortisol levels were off and my cholesterol was high - the list was so long.
I remember thinking to myself, 'there’s got to be another way besides medicine and surgery to heal myself.' There I was, a chef abusing food. I had this revelation: I realized that food is here to nourish my body. I knew I had to start experimenting with food.
I started experimenting with turmeric and apple cider vinegar and was selling this concoction out of the back of Mediterraneo. People were getting off of their medications and losing weight and I was also feeling better. Today, this is one of my most popular drinks at the Source and it's called the Turmeric Tonic.
I started experimenting with other foods and at the same time I began to give up sugar, and that started to clear my head. I got more serious about my spiritual practice and through the desire to eat and feel and live better, I lost that passion and drive that I once had at Mediterraneo.
I prayed asking for God to show me what to do. I thought, ‘I need a storefront, I’m ready to do this and I want to help others feel better through food.’ I knew it was my time to leave when I was going up to the tables at Mediterraneo and would start telling customers the health benefits of soaking walnuts.
My neighbor owned the previous restaurant where the Source is today. I literally got up off my couch one day and walked outside. where she was watering the plants. I will never forget it. For some reason I just asked her, “Do you want to sell Planet Earth?” and she said yes! 40 days later the Source was open. I have the chills thinking about it. That was a God-shot, totally the universe working for me.
The universe was saying: "You've been asking, here it is. Take it!"
The food at the Source is a reflection of what I can eat right now in my health journey. Some of it’s a bit different. I like to push the envelope and use some funkier ingredients that other chefs aren’t using. I also want to show people that healthy food can be delicious. I infuse my chef background and passion for Southern Italian simplicity and Northern Spanish small bites.
I really wanted a place that my friends and family could eat that was safe, organic and GMO free. One of the biggest things that brings me joy, Amanda, is when moms come in with kids and say ‘we haven’t been out to eat in forever’ or ‘my kid has never had a chocolate chip cookie because he’s gluten-free and he can’t have all these other ingredients’ and I can just say ‘awesome, you’re at the right place!’
So that’s how the Source was born and we’re going into year 5 in December. I get so inspired by sharing my journey and my challenges. It wasn’t easy; I had to hit a pretty hard bottom to find out how unhappy I was and make a change.
Amanda: You mentioned that you had a sugar addiction, but that when you gave that up, things started to become much more clear. Can you tell me a little bit about how that process was for you?
Chef Amber: For me, this was by no means a simple process. It actually was extremely hard because I was so addicted to sugar. When I was breaking the addiction, I had to cut out fruit and al