When you think of Hollywood chefs, you might think of high-end cooks who whip up delicacies to match anything a celebrity might crave. However, Chef Ameera brings something fresh to the table, creating dishes that not only please the taste buds, but elevate the eater’s vibes. She calls it “intentional cooking” — an enlightened approach that can elevate your own experience this holiday season.
After cooking for big names like Diddy, Damson Idris, Daniel Kaluuya and Angela Bassett, Chef Ameera first became a personal chef in 2006 after being made redundant. It was a spirit-guided journey that inspired her not only to develop her cooking skills and transition into a new career, but also to use ingredients as a way to infuse positive energy into the customers she was serving. Also known as ‘The Food Alchemist’, Chef Ameera’s spiritual approach to cooking uses the process of transfiguration in the food she creates to bring out its ‘light’ and help elevate the body, soul and soul. mind, spirit and soul to higher heights.
Does that seem weird to you? Well, in simple terms, certain foods target specific areas of our body – for example, consider how ginger works great for stomach aches. In the West, however, most do not use the medicinal powers of food to our best advantage. That’s how Chef Ameera changed the game – finding creative and delicious ways to showcase the natural attributes of food.
This holiday season, instead of sticking to traditional dishes that often leave you feeling lethargic, Chef Ameera spoke with theGrio about the ideal foods to incorporate and those we should avoid if our goal is to lift our vibration. .
What does “The Food Alchemist” mean – and how did you get the name?
OK, so my name is Chef Ameera and my title is “The Food Alchemist”. So to truly understand food, the energy it contains, and to be able to alchemize that means change. Alchemy turns lead into gold. So that’s the process of transfiguration and being able to take that light out of the food. It’s about understanding how to program food and using food as a tool, knowing exactly which foods are in tune with your body.
Tell me about your beginnings and how you became a Hollywood chef.
I’ve been cooking since I was eight and cooking full meals when I was 10. I became a chef in 2006/2007 when I was laid off from my job at Paramount. I went to film school and was floating around a lot as [production assistant]. I loved it, even though I wasn’t as passionate as the food — and then one day I got fired. I was like, “Damn, how am I going to pay my bills?” That day, I said to myself: “I am going to be a chef. I know how to cook, I know how to entertain, I know how to serve people, and my clients will be celebrities, executives and athletes” — and that’s what I did.
It didn’t happen overnight. The vision came to me, and once I knew I was going to be a chef, things just happened. My father had a restaurant. From an early age, I knew I didn’t want a restaurant because I knew the stress there was in it. Later I found out that I was a personal chef and didn’t realize that my father was the personal chef of Muhammad Ali and a few people. He would personally cook for them, but it still hadn’t clicked until he did.
Is “spiritual cooking” a term for you? And what does that mean?
There is spiritual cooking, and we can use it as intentional cooking. Intentionality means being very present about exactly what you are doing, where you are going, and every ingredient you put in. Even understanding how herbs and those ingredients of nature that have not been denatured by man, have not been processed… have been placed there with a specific intention and a specific energy to do something in the body .
What does Thanksgiving mean to you? What does the holiday season represent for you as a chef?
First and foremost, this is one of the busiest times for a leader, and I love seeing families come together… I lead with love and focus on love and joy. Coming together as family and community is so important, and we don’t have that right now… Leading with love, though, and giving the holidays a different meaning, whatever works for you and your family is good.
What foods should we avoid this holiday season? Which should we incorporate?
We should stay away from sugars because sugar is one molecule away from crack or cocaine. That’s how powerful sugar is. I like sweet things and there are alternatives: healthier things for the body that [do] won’t cause you accident or depression and anxiety. Alternatives are honey, agave, date sugar, coconut sugar, and even yacon syrup. Stay away from sugar, processed sugar, and ultra-refined processed foods like corn syrups.
Some foods that we should incorporate are more vegetables. The collard greens and kale are really good. Incorporate roasted vegetables and less meat this holiday season.
We also need to start using more spices in our foods that aid the digestive system and help warm the body such as cinnamon and ginger.
I know it’s the holidays but be more careful when you eat. Start with things that will break down faster like your fruits or vegetables. Eat that first, then move on to the heavier items, because if you eat the heavier items, imagine the traffic first. Imagine a big truck on a small highway, and everyone behind that big truck, when we could have put the smaller cars in front and the traffic would move faster. So look at it like that and pay attention to the order.
What is the first step to intentionally or consciously cooking for the spiritual body?
I would say the first step [would be] to think about yourself. You should first have a meditative practice or a practice where you can check what you need because if I am cooking consciously and intentionally then I am listening to what my body needs… Whether it is a morning journaling practice – or could be a breathing practice because once you sit down and center yourself you eliminate that monkey mind. Because it’s not about silencing; it’s about actually listening to it. When you’re listening, it sounds like a kid that keeps saying “Ma, Ma, Ma” and you’re like, “OK, how can I help you?” And then when you listen to them, they stop talking.
So it’s not about silencing these things, it’s about listening to this chatter. As you start to listen and pay attention to it, it will start to fade away and you will come to that voice that says, “OK, so you know, what’s going on in your body? right now ? You just have to take the time to sit down. If we are not clear, ask the question; ask your body what you need right now and be there to listen. From here, we’re going to be intentional about our ingredients.
How do we raise our vibration with food? What are some of your techniques?
There is a way and that is to choose not only to eat organic, but to pay attention to where our food comes from. If you can get to the farmer’s market, the food will taste completely different because it’s grown by a farmer. Things at the grocery store are in a warehouse with gas helping it. It is usually picked before it is even ripe. That’s why often it doesn’t taste good or it tastes different because it’s not even grown naturally, so there will be a disconnect somewhere. Be intentional about where you get your food.
And then have energy that you bring into the kitchen… If you’re upset, don’t cook. If you’re feeling sad, don’t cook — or maybe make a dish that will get rid of it. The energy you should bring to your food is joy. Put on a song that will do [you] feel happy.
What would you say to young black chefs pursuing a career similar to yours?
When my career took off, I manifested it and lost it just as quickly because it wasn’t anchored or rooted in anything. So when I grounded myself in my spiritual practices — and maybe that’s going to church for somebody, but whatever it was, when I did those things, when I made sure to peace of mind; when I made sure that I was doing my inner work, everything in my life manifested. So I would focus on your inner self. Your development practices or your spiritual practices should be #1.
Decide exactly what type of clientele you want, as celebrities and executives have different skill sets. Nestle and it will help catapult your success. Put systems in place, invest in yourself, and find yourself a coach. If these things are not in order, no matter how successful you get, you will have to go back to them because if you haven’t fixed this fundamental element, you will be back to square one.
Noel Cymone Walker is a New York-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Recording Academy/The Grammys, The Fader, Billboard, OkayPlayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.
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