Natural Epicurean Orientation

Yesterday was my orientation at The Natural Epicurean, and it was an excellent morning.

The purpose of the orientation was to learn some of the basics that we would need to become students and to take care of some housekeeping things.

Below: Imagine the green sign says “The Natural Epicurean” because it does, despite what my iPhone camera wants you to think. Yes, I am wearing a backpack like a good student. 🙂


Staff Introductions

We got to hear from Maya Farnsworth, Ken Rubin, and David McIntyre. We got introductions to Chef Rosa and Chef Alex, the lead instructors. We heard from curriculum director Ellen Stansell, procurement manager Brian Henderson, and others. I was impressed by the quality of the team helping to make things go well. Everyone is eminently qualified for their role.

Below: Chef Maya doing staff introductions.


I was especially inspired when Ken talked about the mission of the school and each of our personal missions. He talked about letting your passion for healthful eating drive you and to share it with others. That it becomes so much a part of you that you love to tell others about it.

Student Introductions

It is truly amazing what a diverse and excited group of students I’ll be working with. We have students from Miami, Santa Fe, San Francisco, San Diego, Tuscon, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and many other places. I do believe I am in the minority being from Austin. We have vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores. Some of us have food allergies and sensitivities, like I do. The group includes artists, at least one trained pastry chef, and former business professionals. Like me, not everyone is certain where this journey will take them. It was very exciting to see so many people from many walks of life come together for this common purpose. I made some good initial connections with a few students.

Knives and Uniform

Each student was given a Mercer knife kit, which will help ensure we are all using quality equipment. I feel very “professional” now. 🙂 Each student got two chef coats (pictures coming later) with The Natural Epicurean logo.



Curriculum director Ellen Stansell gave us an orientation to the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). This is where we can download course materials and view announcements related to the program. It’s the starting point for our course experience. I love Ellen’s approach because before she started her tutorial, she had everyone stand up, take deep breaths, and raise our arms up over our heads. It was delightful to have someone attending to our physical comfort and the mind-body interaction. That is very unusual, unfortunately, but most welcome. I spoke to Ellen briefly while picking up my chef hats and she seems like a terrific person, as does everyone I’ve come into contact.


I paid my tuition during orientation, also. It was largest check I’ve ever written in my life (the down payment on my houses were cashier’s checks, so they don’t count). I had no hesitation about the cost of the program whatsoever. I viewed it as a check I was writing to myself – investing in my future, my happiness, and my own well-being. It will be repaid to me many times over in learning, in career satisfaction, in financial gain, and in my own personal health.

Behind the Scenes

I took a few photos of what lies behind the curtain, since it was my time going beyond the front rooms of the school.

Below: The dish washing area. A critical part of the cooking process. 🙂 You may think I am strange, but I’ve always appreciated the zen of washing dishes by hand.


Below: Some fun ingredients waiting for my expert attention.


Below: The main teacher’s cook station.


Below: Various beans, some quinoa, and dal.


Final Impressions

This day took one year to plan and make happen, but it has been 34 years of preparation. It was a wonderful gift to myself to be able to be in the presence of so many who share my same desires and goals. There is a lot of energy in the air and I am very much looking forward to this journey.

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