Elizabeth Cancade is an accomplished cooking instructor, nutrition coach and restaurant owner. When she decided to branch into a new arena and was unsure where to start, she couldn’t find many people with relevant experience in her small, rural community of Souris, Manitoba. So, she immediately turned to what she knew would be a reliable source: the Culinary Nutrition Expert community.
Within days of reaching out with a request to learn more about becoming a holistic chef, she was on the phone with Culinary Nutrition Experts in both the US and Canada who shared best practices for making a chef business model work.
“What I learned from them was invaluable. It probably put me 100 steps ahead in planning my business,” she says. “To be able to turn to the community and get real answers was really important to my business being set up. And I think any Culinary Nutrition Expert would find that in their experience – no matter how they want to work with food, there are members in this community who are willing to share.”
A lifelong love of food
Photo: Thera’s Photography
Elizabeth was raised in a food-loving household and was encouraged to explore in the kitchen from a very young age. Parents nowadays may feel astonished that her mother let Elizabeth regularly mix a variety of random ingredients in a bowl, from sauces, flours, spices and more – a cooking project they called ‘making brew’.
While none of her creations were remotely edible, it offered Elizabeth the independence and encouragement to be fearless in the kitchen. Later, as a teen and young adult, Elizabeth honed her cooking skills to build tasty recipes and feed herself well when she moved out of the house.
Her passion for food led her to the restaurant industry, establishing a whole food deli with her husband (which they later sold) and then purchasing a longstanding local drive-in restaurant called The Dairy Bar.
Decades of cooking taught Elizabeth that food is vital and delicious, but she knew many people have a complicated relationship with it. She completed an integrative health coaching certificate and began working with clients part-time, helping them reduce stress around meal choices and develop a positive relationship with food. She soon noticed that working with clients in the kitchen had a massive and joyful impact.
Partway through her second maternity leave, Elizabeth felt compelled to step back from the restaurant industry and pursue food and health more fully. As she began her search to get re-inspired, a friend recommended she consider the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program.
“It resonated immediately. I knew right away that it was full of information that I wanted, and that I wanted to share with the people I was working with,” Elizabeth says. “When I saw culinary and nutrition right beside each other I thought it was so unique. I knew that the program was going to be a channel to something special for me.”
“I knew right away that it [the program] was full of information that I wanted, and that I wanted to share with the people I was working with. When I saw culinary and nutrition right beside each other I thought it was so unique. I knew that the program was going to be a channel to something special for me.”
Re-inspiration and leveling up with the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program
Photo: Thera’s Photography
As a restaurant owner, Elizabeth already knew her way around the kitchen when she joined the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program in 2020. She loved how the weekly cooking assignments offered fresh recipe inspiration, introduced her to different skills, and energized her to refine how she cooked at home.
“I loved that I was invited to cook in ways that were different from how I cooked before,” she says. “It re-inspired me to dig into new techniques and ingredients again, and practice and master them so I could present them to clients and friends.”
Elizabeth also appreciated the written assignments and delving into nutrition research. Surprisingly, what she envisioned to be the toughest aspect of the program – teaching a cooking class or workshop – turned out to be the best part.
Normally, the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program culminates in students teaching a live, in-person cooking class with friends, family, or clients. Due to strict pandemic restrictions, many students in the 2020 cohort either chose to deliver an online class or teach to the people in their household. With two very young kids, an at-home class wasn’t feasible – yet Elizabeth was paralyzed with fear of teaching online.
A text exchange with her Culinary Nutrition Expert Program buddy gave Elizabeth the final nudge and encouragement to set a date for her class (each student in the program is assigned a buddy to swap recipes and meal plans for testing). The experience of teaching online was an unexpected delight.
“I loved doing it, and then I spent the next year giving all kinds of online courses because the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program had pushed me to do one,” Elizabeth says. “It transformed my business. I never would have stepped over that hurdle without the program.”
“I loved that I was invited to cook in ways that were different from how I cooked before. It re-inspired me to dig into new techniques and ingredients again, and practice and master them so I could present them to clients and friends.”
Taking a new leap into becoming a holistic chef
Photo: Thera’s Photography
After completing the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program Elizabeth committed to developing a career in culinary nutrition, and was open to trying different things to find the optimal fit for her life and business, Living Simply Kitchen.
“I gave myself the freedom to explore a few outlets so I could see what felt good, and evolve in the work to create a business that felt good for me and felt impactful in the way I wanted to work in the world,” Elizabeth says.
That exploration included teaching online cooking classes, virtual one-to-one coaching, creating menu plans and facilitating short-term digital health programs. She also leveled up the menu items at her restaurant, adding smoothies, power bowls, and more choices for those with dietary restrictions.
Most of Elizabeth’s classes and coaching focused on showing people how to make meal prep, menu planning and cooking simpler and more fun. After a year of teaching, in January 2022, Elizabeth realized there were several clients who just wanted her to cook good food for them.
As someone who regularly batch cooks, Elizabeth figured why not cook extra for a few more families?
“To be able to turn to the Culinary Nutrition Expert community and get real answers was really important to my business being set up. It probably put me 100 steps ahead in planning my business. And I think any Culinary Nutrition Expert would find that in their experience – no matter how they want to work with food, there are members in this community who are willing to share.”
Establishing a holistic chef business
Turning to the Culinary Nutrition Expert community for advice on how to establish a holistic chef business gave Elizabeth the insights to get started. Each week, she cooks a variety of lunches, dinner entrées, smoothies and snacks for clients. Everything is packed up and delivered in glass containers for a disposable-free business.
Clients rave about her meals, reporting they are incredibly delicious and have helped them feel better. In a few short months, her holistic chef business grew to over a dozen food delivery customers.
And through this new path, Elizabeth has found the ideal fit for her passions and skills.
“I love it. I love planning the menu items, I love getting the ingredients and then putting this food back out in the world,” she enthuses. “It’s been an awesome addition to my work.”
Elizabeth still has a few toes in the virtual world, partnering up with Culinary Nutrition Expert Jennifer Klueppel for a free email meal prep series and corresponding Facebook support group. The pair met years ago in their health coaching program, and once Elizabeth completed the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program she recommended it to Jennifer, who joined the following year in 2021. With Elizabeth based in Manitoba and Jennifer in Buenos Aires, they can tag-team and create a virtual space to share their knowledge and give clients a place to come together and talk nutrition, meal prep and cooking.
No matter where her holistic chef business takes her, Elizabeth knows she has the solid foundation to tackle whatever comes next – and that she has a virtual community of experts across the globe who are there to support her.