The Organic Soul Chef
Madea Allen, the Organic Soul Chef, is a woman of many talents. A proud mom, a personal chef, yoga instructor, reiki healer and soon to be Doctor of Oriental medicine. Tarisai and I sat down with my former high school classmate (Banneker SHS in Washington, DC) to discuss her journey and give our September Set readers healthy living and eating tips as we enter the longest months of winter.
SS: How and when did you begin your journey into natural health that has led you to the Organic Soul Chef and all-around wellness aficionado?
Madea: My mom and dad were both healers. My mom was an herbalist and had a business in S.E., DC where she made health formulas for customers and my dad followed Dick Gregory and his vegan teachings. They inspired me to look at food as healing and have a lot of love for my craft.
SS: Where did you start on your journey into natural health and food preparation?
Madea: I was a part of AmeriCorps after college, working as a doula and considered medical school but it wasn’t the right choice for me at that time. I moved to New York and worked in the health field and discovered I wanted to be a service provider instead of just guiding people. I wanted a more direct connection with people, so I went within and followed my spirit to chart my path.
SS: This is a theme we hear from each of our interviewees, going within and figuring out the next steps on your path. What did you find?
Madea: I knew I wanted to go into health and found a health-based school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York and enrolled and after finishing, I enrolled in culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and trained in a vegetarian curriculum. I learned from masters such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra about wholistic health. It was a pivotal experience for me.
SS: What made this a better choice in comparison to medical school?
Madea: Both programs taught from the perspective that food is health and this piece is left out in a medical school setting.
SS: You wanted a wholistic approach to health versus only focusing on western medicine. How are you putting your education into practice with Organic Soul Chef and what can people expect from a personal chef session with you?
Madea: I start with asking about their cultural heritage because eating foods from your specific culture and region of the world is important and has proven to be healthier. I love asking real questions and actively listening to be able to give my clients the tools to move forward. It’s about empowerment. People confess their food sins to me and we decide on the best way forward.
SS: That’s a great point on how culture is very important in diet which people may not know. Do you cook for an occasion or for a time period?
Madea: People usually want meals for a week, so I ask them about any medications they are taking, what goals they want to achieve and any health concerns before planning the menu. I cook everything except pork.
SS: How about cooking for kids and how can parents get their kids to want to eat healthy?
Madea: Parents play a key role by setting the example of healthy eating for their kids. Kids won’t eat healthy if their parents don’t eat healthy. The earlier parents can introduce healthy foods to their kids, the better. And don’t force kids to eat certain foods; let them come around to it in their own time.
SS: I use that strategy with my boys and it definitely works. What are some key foods, spices, ingredients you always have for preparing healthy meals?
· Good quality olive and coconut oil
· Good quality salt
· Whole grains
· Dried beans
· Root veggies like sweet potatoes
SS: What local farms and food co-ops do you recommend for readers to try?
Madea: I really enjoy frequenting Three Park Harmony Farm in N.E. DC for eggs, herbs and flowers. The Glut Food Co-Op in Mt. Rainier, MD is a good choice as well as the Takoma Park Co-Op in Silver Spring, MD. Outside of the immediate area is Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia who offer great meats and eggs.
SS: These are great resources. What’s next for your goals as we begin a new year?
Madea: I have begun my program to become a Doctor of Oriental Medicine at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. I will continue my Yoga Supper Club meetings, where participants do Kundalini Yoga and then enjoy a healthy meal after, and reiki is something I enjoy and offer as a service.
My goal is to be aligned and doing what I know I am supposed to do. I don’t feel like I work because I enjoy everything I do.
SS: It sounds like you have come full circle, Madea. You are indeed in medical school now but in the way that best fits your journey in wholistic health.
Madea: I want people to know that wellness is multidimensional, and you can’t leave anything out, from food to exercise to meditation. I’ll be able to fully implement this multidimensional practice when I complete my degree and I plan to have a joint practice that includes integrative medicine, reiki, yoga, nutrition, dance and acupuncture.
SS: We know you will succeed because you have built a strong foundation. Thank you Madea.
For more information about Madea’s Organic Soul Chef services, reiki services and the Yoga Supper Club, visit her website at organicsoulchef.com and sign up for her newsletter!