"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates
An interview with Meredith Klein of Pranaful.
We met LA based chef Meredith Klein last year at our Fall Ojai Pilates and Barre Retreat. She spent the weekend with us, preparing our meals and inspiring so many with her thoughtful, delicious dishes. Meredith creates Ayurvedically-inspired, organic cuisine. Many of us left the retreat feeling physically and emotionally nourished, and compelled to learn more about this ancient art of self care through food. We are thrilled to announce that she will return to Ojai this year for our October retreat. Read on..
When did you start cooking and what inspires your dishes?
Meredith: "I’ve been in the kitchen my whole life. One of my favorite things when I was really young was to sit in the kitchen and stack Tupperware while my mother made dinner each night. As I got a little older, she started giving me small tasks to assist with, and by the time I was 6 or 7, I would enjoy making breakfasts and simple dinners for our family on my own. I started cooking professionally in 2008, after spending a year in a Sociology PhD program at UC Berkeley. It was a really rough year for me and cooking was like my therapy. At the end of the year, it was clear that cooking was going to be a more fulfilling vocation than an academic life, so I followed that guidance. My food is very much inspired by the travel I’ve done throughout my lifetime. I love cooking bold, flavorful cuisines like Indian and Moroccan that rely on rich spice combinations and fresh ingredients. I’m also inspired locally as well by the gorgeous produce grown here in California. I often find inspiration just walking through the farmers market here in Santa Monica."
What is Ayurvedically-influenced cuisine?
Meredith: "Ayurveda is the ancient healing system of India, and actually the world’s oldest continually practiced system of medicine. Ayurveda is a tool for understanding energy, both in the body and around us. We find balance in Ayurveda by introducing foods and lifestyle practices that hold opposite qualities of what we are experiencing. So, for example, if I’m feeling really scattered and unsettled, then having a warm, grounding meal (like a soup or a stew) is beneficial. Ayurveda sees food as medicine, so each meal becomes an opportunity to heal ourselves."
You've been to all kinds of retreats, I'm assuming! What is special about retreating?
Meredith: "Yes, I work at dozens of retreats each year, in addition to participating in a number as well. For me, the magic of retreats comes from stepping out of our day-to-day routines, and consequently removing ourselves from our habitual mental chatter as well. I love the spaciousness and quiet that is accessible at a retreat. I’m also personally a fan of disconnecting from all devices when on retreat, and really appreciate not having pressure to keep up with email and texts. It’s a good reminder that these things aren’t as urgent as they seem to be in the moment when we’re caught up in our daily routine. I also love the friendships that get forged on retreats. Many of my closest friendships began on retreats."
At the last retreat you were working on a cookbook. When can we get our hands on it?
Meredith: "My book, titled Kitchen Ritual, is in the final design phases and will be available this summer. I’ll begin pre-sales for the book soon. Anyone who is interested in staying tuned for that can sign up for my mailing list using the “Stay in Touch” link at the very bottom of my website http://www.pranaful.com."