TOP CHEF CANADA’S LAUREN MARSHALL
Passionate about plant based nutrition and wellness retreats
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.