How We Began
The ad in the newspaper said, apartment for rent in house located on two tropical acres, with fruit trees.
The year was 1978, and I was about 20 years old, heavily into yoga, and a vegetarian.
When I went to look at the apartment, doubting seriously that two acres of tropical fruit trees even existed in South Florida, I was amazed to find out that it, in fact, did. The apartment itself was pretty run down. The woman who lived in the other part of the house, who was in charge of renting out my apartment, was a yoga Swami, and a vegetarian cook. Her name was Naranda and she called the property "The Ashram". I took to her immediately, especially after seeing her kitchen, which looked like a cross between an herb shop and a thrift store! Most amazing to me, was that she actually knew, and used, the multitudes of items that were in the glass jars that lined every inch of the kitchen. I was fascinated, and little did I know, that moment would shape the rest of my life!
I moved into the apartment, lived there happily for a few years, and assisted her in her tri-weekly Yoga Class followed by Vegetarian Feast events. I loved spending time with her shopping, cooking, and doing what has always been my specialty, organizing and cleaning! She reminded me of my Grandmother, who was an amazing baker and chef, who unfortunately died when I was 12 years old, of breast cancer! My Grandmother, and Naranda, (the yoga Swami), greatly influenced my early years. I was always meant to be a cook, but had to go through many other experiences to integrate all that has become Wholly Macro!
After a few way too short years with Naranda, cooking, learning, and becoming a Florida State Certified Yoga Instructor, I moved on to North Florida, where I worked for a few years as a graphic artist, (my college profession). Long story why I studied art and graphics, when my true yearning always was food and health, (some other time)! So, in an effort to fulfill my yearning, I quit the graphic arts field, taught yoga at the University of Florida, and managed a large health food store, while going to Massage and Nursing School.
For the next ten years, I worked concurrently as a massage therapist, and a Surgical Registered Nurse. I used to bring my own food to the Hospital where I worked, and my food became the focal point of the entire Hospital. No one cared at all that it was “healthy", or that it was "vegetarian”, they just all wanted some of it! I also had several friends, who enlisted my services, offering to pay me to cook for them on my days off. But I never thought of it as anything more than odd, that so many people took such an interest in my plain old food!
During those fifteen years in and around North Florida, I always maintained my relationship with Naranda, and finally moved back to South Florida, where my family and roots are.
I began cooking with Naranda again, at her “Vegetarian Feasts”, which had become a South Florida tradition, attended by many!
She had acquired an excellent helper during the years that I was away, a man from Colombia, South America, by the name of Jaime Parra, whom I met upon my return to South Florida. He ran the kitchen, and cleaned and organized like no one I had ever met, except of course, Moi! He was a yoga student of hers, and had become a yoga master in his own right! We began to fall in love, with Narandaï’s blessings, and all three of us happily bustled around the kitchen, shopping, chopping, cleaning, learning, and having some of the best times of my life!
Sadly, shortly after I moved back, Naranda, who was in her late eighties by then, passed away unexpectedly.
Jaime and I took over the kitchen, continuing the tradition of the "Vegetarian Feast”, until the day that the landlord came along and sold the entire property.
At that point, Jaime and I began our own official vegetarian catering and delivery business called “The Vegetarian Feast”, in honor of Naranda! We worked hard, we started from scratch, and within two years, we were cooking for sixty or so people a week, and very successfully I might add!
During the time between moving back to South Florida, and just after Naranda’s death, I developed breast cancer. (You will have to see My Story under Macrobiotics and Cancer for details). My case was bad, my prognosis was worse, we had to close our business, and Jaime and I began the more serious job of getting me well. Macrobiotics played an important role in that, as we began what I call, the “macrobiotic shuffle”. (Please see About Health, Food and Macrobiotics).
We were experienced cooks, we were vegetarians, we thought we were healthy, and we even thought we knew a lot, but quickly became aware of just how little we really knew about grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, fermented foods, and the whole array of macrobiotic specialty healing foods. I didn’t know if I would get better, but I did know, that if I did, “The Vegetarian Feast” would be no more, as we had changed our diet and lifestyle drastically over the two years of my healing.
Meanwhile, and magically, people were chomping at the bit, awaiting the resumption of our catering and delivery business, and wanting our personal chef services, for healing purposes, for culinary purposes, for practicality, you name it, people wanted it. So, in 1998, barely out of my intense two years of cancer treatment and macrobiotic training, Jaime and I decided to reopen our business under the new name of Wholly Macro, and thus it was born, a culmination of over twenty five years of art, nursing, massage, yoga, and culinary training, all mixed together in one big bowl, with the result being our recipe for success in all areas of life, starting with the highest quality organic whole foods, prepared using age old macrobiotic principles, in fine culinary tradition.