The Making of a Chef:
Shelley Loving’s passion lies in helping others cook and eat a little healthier without dieting or having massive restrictions. After her husband’s heart attack, she decided to take ownership of their health by cleaning up what we were eating. After 2 nutrition schools and culinary school, she now teaches others what she then applied to their own life. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or boring. And Shelley is on a mission to teach you how to do it in a way that will leave you feeling great. No matter your kitchen skill level, Shelley will have you whipping up healthier dishes in no time. What is your definition of what makes a chef? I think it’s a culmination of 3 things. 1. School. I think some sort of formal training goes hand-in-hand with the title of “chef” (which is different from “cook”). 2. Passion. The love for food and creating delicious and pretty food takes love, dedication, commitment, and passion. 3. Creativity. Being a chef is a form of art. You start with endless ingredient options and create something beautiful. What’s an average day like for you? From 5:30-8 am, I am doing personal things. I read a self-help/motivational book for 30 minutes while I sip my coffee. Then I spend about an hour in the kitchen getting ready for our day. My husband leaves for work everyday, so I make sure he has breakfast, some green juice, his vitamins, and I pack his lunch and snacks. I also fill his water jugs. Around 8 is when I exercise. I usually start my work day by 9 am. I am blessed to do most of my work from home. Sometimes it’s a kitchen day either creating new recipes or creating videos for my website, YouTube, or social media. Some day it is prepping my kitchen for virtual cooking classes. I offer them to corporations all over the world. Companies like Ernst & Young, Ameriprise Financial, Texas Capital Bank, and more. And then there are desk days. This is where I do networking, take continued education classes, plan my month for social media, and have meetings with my virtual assistant so we are on the same page with tasks. Uploading recipes to my website, constructing emails for my wonderful email list of people, and so on. I also spend a couple hours each week networking and marketing to keep Shelley Can Help growing. I usually wrap up my day around 4 PM. This is where I either sit on our patio or on the couch to watch an hour of trash TV. I know it’s silly. It’s my way to completely shut off my brain from all the things that loom in my head 18 hours a day. I then get in the kitchen and prepare dinner. By 8 PM, I’m either on our patio with my husband or we are together, finding something to watch on TV before I retire to the bedroom with evening hot tea and I’m asleep by 9:45. I’m a stickler for routine and I also treat sleep like a religion. Other than food, it’s EVERYTHING. What's the best piece of advice another chef ever gave you? Show yourself some grace. Not every recipe will turn out like you had hoped. Pick yourself up and do it again. And again. And again. Do you ever have to travel away from your family for work? How do you handle that time away? As of right now, no I do not. My husband and I have 3 adult children who are all grown and thriving on their own so now would be the time to do so. I do feel it coming. I’m not sure yet what that looks like, but I feel it in my bones that my career is going to shift in big ways in the next 2 years. Tell me what your first teacher in the kitchen was like. What lessons did you learn from them that you still use today? That would be my mother. I am an only child, and she cooked quite a bit when I was growing up. NOW, I was raised in the 80’s in a conventional Southern American home, so the recipes were not healthy, but she is a really good cook and would always allow me to help. Sadly, I didn’t help a ton because I was a dancer (mostly ballet) and spent 4-5 nights a week in a dance studio. Something she taught me, that my grandmother taught her…always put a little sugar in your sauces. It enhances the flavor. Today, knowing what I do about sugar, I still do this..but with coconut sugar. So my mom still lives with my recipes…sort of :) What would you do if you made a mistake while making something in the kitchen? Funny you should ask that. I was raised to be perfect. Always. My mother had VERY high expectations in everything I did from grades, to dance, to cheer, and even hand bells at church. Yes, I was forced to attend hand bells. Anyway, last week I made a dish and I said something to my husband about “you can’t really taste the onions because I waited too long to add them, sorry”. He replied with “Do you realize every time you cook, you make excuses why it isn’t perfect? You should work on that because your food is always delicious and everyone always loves your food. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Cook with confidence”. So, I am working on that because clearly I am extremely hard on myself. What's your process for dealing with performance anxiety if you're cooking LIVE: I have been on stage dancing since I was 3 so performing has never been something that brings fear to me. However, this job requires me to do all the speaking and with dance, you just perform. It’s been an adjustment, but one I have fully embraced with practice. I was lucky a valuable tactic very early on and it’s this, Before you speak or teach, go into it thinking “I am about to serve this audience. I am offering them valuable information that can shift their lives. It’s not about me. It’s not about my nerves. They are showing up so I can teach and inspire them. So do it”. So every single time I teach, 2 minutes before, I look up and say to my spirit guides, “thank you for this moment. Thank you for giving me this platform to serve these people. May this moment take me one step closer to my mission”. And just like that, the nerves…they vanish. What do you like most about cooking? It truly is therapy for me. Of course I get burned out. Of course I need breaks. But when I do take a break, I can’t wait to get back in there. Like I said before, cooking is an art. It takes creativity to come up with meals. Not only just meals, but meals that serve the body nutritiously. And every time I create a healthy meal for me and my husband, it makes my heart smile just a little. Describe your creative process when you wrote the book, What's on Your Fork. Oh boy. I started Shelley Can Help in 2018 and I gave myself what I thought at the time was a hefty goal of publishing my first cookbook within 5 years. It terrified me. But I wrote it down and even put it on my vision board every year. And here we are…4 years later and I did it. Through my four 4 years of teaching and listening to my audience, I learned what they wanted. I heard what they needed and that’s where the ideas began. I wanted to create a book with easy meal ideas that were also supportive of an anti-inflammatory diet. Once I had the concept, the recipes literally began flowing out of my head and into the kitchen. January-May of 2022 that was my focus. I would create, make changes, create again and repeat this process for almost 6 months. Who's your ideal chef to collaborate with and why? I haven’t done much collaborating WITH other chefs, but that sure is a goal. I have cooked live on social media with a few nutritionists, but it would be a dream to cook alongside some well known chefs where we collaborated and I could teach them how to use some healthier ingredients and show them the food will still taste delicious. Pipe dream, right?! I’m full of those. Are there any chef's who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them? Ina Garten because of her ease. She cooks like she is knitting by a fire. I admire her energy when she is in the kitchen. Rachael Ray because of her talent. Her flavors and techniques aren’t complicated which is exactly how I teach. And her recipes always impress me. Gordon Ramsey just makes my jaw drop. He’s a speed demon, but I have MAD respect for his knowledge around techniques and uses of flavors.And my favorite, rest In peace, is Anthony Bourdain. He didn’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings. He had no inhibitions and I wanted that so badly. I want to NOT care what others think both in the kitchen and in my life. He introduced me to travel and all the foods around the world that are now added to my giant bucket list. I actually miss him and wish I could hear him talk about food one more time. It’s one thing to watch a chef cook. It’s a whole new world when you are captivated with how they speak about food. Which skills have you gained that help you perform effectively as a chef? The ability to multi-task is vital in the kitchen. All food preps differently, and there are so many steps from Mise en place, to prep, to simmer, and so on. And I would also add organization. Thankfully, it’s in my genes to be organized. I used to make fun of my mom (well, I actually still do) for being so organized, but it’s really paying off for me now. So thanks, Mom. Which qualities do you think make a great chef? When people say “I hate cooking”, I truly don’t understand that sentence because the one thing we all have to do every single day is eat. It’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a pleasure. So, having a love for food is important in making a great chef. Which is why I don’t understand why everyone isn’t a great chef :) Do you have any weaknesses that you're actively working to improve on?
I’ll revert to my previous answer. I am way too hard on myself and do NOT show myself enough love. I’ve been working on that recently. I know I serve others well, but when it comes down to it, I feel I suffer from imposter syndrome and I do not want to continue down that path. What accomplishments do you see yourself achieving in the next five to 10 years? I LOVE this question! As an entrepreneur who is married to an entrepreneur, I have some hefty goals. I want my own streaming show on a major network like Netflix. I have BIG ideas. And I’m confident something like that is coming. And with that, I also have a big passion for speaking to larger audiences. I feel healthy eating is not a focus when it comes to self improvement topics. If we don’t feed our body nutritious foods, it will catch up with us. It may takes years, but it will catch up. And how can we be our best selves if we don’t take care of our bodies. And it all starts in the kitchen. Not the doctor’s office. What is your main goal in your career? To raise awareness around how important an anti-inflammatory diet is to our overall health. Our mental health. Our gut health. Our immune system. Our vitality. Prevention of disease, sickness, illness, and virus. I want to show the everyday cook simple and quick ways to make better food choices; no matter their skill level. Feed the body real food and it will work miracles for you. What is it about cooking that makes you feel passionate? Our health starts in the kitchen. I learned this after my husband’s massive heart attack. And I want to show others how to prevent a giant health scare. I want to teach the masses how to make small changes in the recipes they make and the foods they eat. Our health begins with what we eat. Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a chef? Favorite? Creating beautiful and delicious foods that will nourish my body. Least? Cleaning the kitchen on repeat. I crave the day I have someone help me with that part of my job. What separates you from other chef's? I don’t just show how to make a meal. Anyone can do that. I show the “why”. I explain the ingredients in my recipes and why I’m using them. I help my audience understand why they should avoid some ingredients and which ones are causing them health issues. I keep my teachings very simple with my upbeat and positive presentation style. What are you most proud of to date? In 4 years, I have created a business model that helps and educates hundreds of people. Every time I get an email telling me how much I have helped with someone’s health, is the moment. That’s the moment when I say, “Shelley, keep going. This is why you started. This is it. Keep pushing and don’t give up. They need you”. Helping people get healthier is my passion and I”m doing that. One recipe at a time. One cooking class at a time. And it’s working. That’s what I’m proud of. All your socials and where this audience can support your book! www.whatsonyourfork.com www.shelleycanhelp.com www.instagram.com/shelleycanhelp www.facebook.com/shelleycanhelp www.pinterest.com/shelleycanhelp https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjcMnhFYxjG3SNDk1fEPtDA www.linkedin.com/in/shelleycanhelp www.tiktok.com/@shelleycanhelp