TOP CHEF CANADA’S LAU­REN MARSHALL

Pas­sion­ate about plant based nu­tri­tion and well­ness re­treats

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - Contents - By DEB­O­RAH RENT – HAL­I­FAX, NS

With her hair held back by a thick leop­ard print head­band and her arm cov­ered in colour­ful bold tat­toos of fruits, vegeta­bles, and flow­ers, it’s not hard to tell this is a woman who is pas­sion­ate about life and food.

Lau­ren Marshall is au­then­tic and charm­ing with a youth­ful ap­pear­ance that makes it easy to for­get she has years of ex­pe­ri­ence that she brings to the din­ner ta­ble.

Orig­i­nally from the ru­ral com­mu­nity of Mount Uni­acke, Nova Scotia, Lau­ren has worked all over the world as a chef, in­clud­ing Belize, Nan­tucket, and Mel­bourne. I did the first in­ter­view with Lau­ren by phone and found her ex­tremely en­gag­ing —she an­swered all my ques­tions like a sea­soned pro.

It isn’t hard to see how Lau­ren cap­ti­vated au­di­ences across the coun­try as she ex­per­i­mented with food and cooked her little heart out on Canada’s Top Chef. On the phone I felt I was speak­ing to an ex­pe­ri­enced me­dia per­son­al­ity, and the con­ver­sa­tion left me want­ing to know more, so I in­vited her to lunch.

It’s no sur­prise she asked to meet at a ve­gan restau­rant. Laruen lives, breathes and preaches the nat­u­ral life­style, which in­cludes eat­ing and cook­ing nat­u­ral, or­ganic whole foods. The place she chose is a quaint, funky, small neigh­bor­hood restau­rant in the west end of Hal­i­fax called Wild Leek. Re­cently ren­o­vated and re­opened, the place is packed.

Just back from a yoga class, a re­freshed Lau­ren is clearly in her el­e­ment. She is com­fort­able and it’s ob­vi­ous the staff here know her. Lau­ren is down to earth and ac­ces­si­ble, and while we eat the in­ter­view be­gins to feel like an af­ter­noon out with an old friend. It oc­curs to me that this woman is suc­cess­ful not only be­cause she is an in­cred­i­ble chef, but be­cause she has a sense of ad­ven­ture and likes to ex­per­i­ment. With food... and life.

About a decade ago, Lau­ren de­cided she wanted to travel, ob­tain­ing work visas for ex­otic lo­cales around the world. She honed her skills by work­ing in a va­ri­ety of restau­rants (from French to Ital­ian to a touristy fish venue), each time mak­ing just enough money to travel to the next lo­ca­tion. At one point, she even had the gump­tion to move to Tas­ma­nia to work on an or­ganic farm where she planted gar­dens and tended sheep.

Lau­ren has plenty of real-world ex­pe­ri­ence, but her cre­den­tials are solid too, hav­ing at­tended the Culi­nary School of Canada and the Cana­dian School of Nat­u­ral Nu­tri­tion. She’s also a reg­is­tered holis­tic nu­tri­tion coach. It’s liv­ing a full, healthy life­style and not just cook­ing that in­spires her.

Dur­ing her time in In­dia Lau­ren took a reg­is­tered yoga teacher train­ing which in­spired her to come home to Hal­i­fax and open Coastal Heal­ing, a busi­ness meant for peo­ple to gather to­gether to learn to cook plant based foods, while in peace­ful re­treat lo­ca­tions.

But, don’t let this laid back, chef/yogi per­sona fool you! Lau­ren Marshall is a mo­ti­vated busi­ness woman. With her re­treat team she takes peo­ple to idyl­lic lo­ca­tions in ru­ral Nova Scotia as well as into ex­otic In­dia, the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Coastal Heal­ing.

Cur­rently she’s teach­ing seven to eight healthy cook­ing classes a week for PC Cook­ing Schools Canada, and her pas­sion is build­ing her next busi­ness, Real Fake Meats, which means plant-based butcher will be the next role she’ll be adding to her ex­ten­sive re­sume. Lau­ren hopes to re­tail her ve­gan meats at her own deli some­time in the near future, start­ing with Butcher Box De­liv­er­ies.

“I don’t like to cook un­der pres­sure and I don’t like to be forced to do some­thing in a short amount of time.” she laughs. That’s the ex­act rea­son she felt com­pelled to au­di­tion for Top Chef. She thrives at ex­plor­ing new ter­ri­tory and push­ing her­self out­side of her com­fort zone.

It’s risk tak­ing that con­tin­ues to in­spire her to push her own lim­its. She walks the walk. Chef Lau­ren’s home page on her web­site says, “Wel­come to my Home!” It’s a home that is any­where and ev­ery­where and one where we are all wel­come.

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