About Me 

Cooking with Nicole Sept2 - 9.jpg
 
 

It all started with a cannoli...

I grew up in an Italian Canadian family home, where cooking and eating were placed in top priority. After school there was always fresh fruit waiting for us and on every special occasion my mother would make her famous cannoli. It was important that I learned the family recipe which was passed on by my nonna, which was passed on by her nonna, who was a baker in a small Sicilian town. With this experience of tasting the still warm ricotta from the cheese shop, learning how to whisk it just right and seasoning it with lemon zest and sugar, being careful never to make it too sweet, a love for food was born. 

With a deep passion of food following me where ever I go, I've tried my hand at many careers until I finally landed where I am today. I've always been creative and love the meditative relief of art-making, so that is the direction I took after high school. Fascinated by the human form, I studied anatomy and was even awarded the rare experience of studying cadavers at U of T through OCAD University. The human condition has always been present in my work, as I have empathy and a deep fascination for the way we function, communicate and evolve as humans. Therefore, oil portraiture was a running theme in my work since the beginning. 

After spending 8 months in Florence, then a few months in Berlin on the hunt for museums, I couldn't escape the incredible food that met me at every turn! I came home with a new desire to cook for others and show how delicious food can be if its simple, local, and in season. I started a catering company called 'La Rivolta' meaning 'the revolution' to revolutionize our perception of food, returning to a time where optimizing every meal for nutrition was not only a goal, it was a necessity. Unearthing my Sicilian roots, I sought to discover long forgotten recipes from my family's place of origin. A place of incredible diversity. 

The Crooked Smile:

For years I ran La Rivolta, but I realized that I was enamoured with food so much I wanted to educate myself and take it to the next level. It wasn't until I got a major health scare that I was sure I wanted to make a difference in the world and study nutrition. On Christmas Eve, sat having an incredible feast with my big family, someone noticed that my smile was crooked. It turned out I had Bell's Palsy, which is a temporary partial paralysis of the face, the same thing Jean Chretien has (although for him unfortunately it was not so temporary). I know this came on because of stress, as I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off due to Christmas. 

The doctors gave me steroids which was supposed to reduce the inflammation that was causing the damage to my facial nerve, yet it also depresses your immunity in a big way. I've never been so sick in my life, not to mention depressed. The doctors said there was nothing they could do, it was an autoimmune disease and they don't know the cause. Just wait and hope it goes away. Well that wasn't enough for me. Although I was new to alternative medicine, I needed someone who could help. I went to an osteopath who gave me a thymus pump to reinvigorate my immune system. I then went to a TCM doctor who gave me acupuncture to balance the disturbance. Both practitioners said, yes, we can treat Bell's Palsy. And they did. After three weeks of taking in garlic, turmeric and honey, using natural anti-inflammatories, I could smile again. It was then that I realized that our health care system is not enough. They treat the symptom not the cause, and alternative medicine is also needed to achieve real results. 

I enrolled into The Institute of Holistic Nutrition, and by September of that year I was on my journey to learning about holistic healthcare. Although my time at IHN was very challenging, I put my everything into each assignment and graduated with honours. I was most enamoured by herbal medicine as this aligned with my feelings that natural healing should come from the earth, not a lab. My instructor Eva Cabaca is the embodiment of mother nature. A natural homesteader in the fullest, she showed us that natural medicine is all around you. After attending her awe inspiring nature walk through the Edward Gardens and her cooking classes in her beautiful home, I was recharged with determination to follow this passion. As we learned how to make such simple yet powerful remedies as 'Amazake' a traditional Japanese probiotic tonic made from rice, I knew my goal in life was to share this knowledge with others. I truly believe that health is a gift that should be available to everyone, regardless of income.

I will strive to share  my knowledge and spread the awareness of natural medicine, helping to reveal the innate knowledge we all have to heal ourselves with ingredients we can find in our backyards and cupboards.