It was appropriately titled, “Food and Healing,” and it was ripe with everything I wanted to know about food and how it could affect the physical body.
It was simply fascinating!
I wanted to soak up all of this author’s knowledge. And, if I could have, I would have put that book on a sandwich and ate it just to make sure I absorbed everything, all the way down into my bones.
Years later, after healing my thyroid condition, I had the desire to teach others what I had learned about food and healing. I attended a health coaching school called Gullivers, now known as The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
The primary program was geared toward teaching students how to become health coaches, plus they offered a secondary program called “Fast Track” that featured many great visiting teachers. One of those teachers was none other than Annemarie Colbin.
I was so excited! And, I would have LOVED to study with her, but my full time work and travel schedule with MTV Networks made it impossible for me to commit to taking the additional program.
Upon graduating, I quit my job at MTV Networks and threw myself into the world of health coaching and teaching people to use food as medicine. I set up cooking classes and taught people in my small NYC apartment, as well as anywhere else people would let me.
Within a few years I had a steady clientele, many students, and even published a couple of books of my own. Not long after that, I became a featured contestant on the hit show Top Chef.
One of my fellow contestants from Season 1, Dave Martin said, “You know… you should really teach cooking classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute. It’s right up your organic crunchy-granola alley.”
He was right! That was a fantastic idea! I mean, after all, it was Annemarie Colbin’s school and I admired her work. Through her many books, she helped inspire my path to healing and teaching.
I applied at the Natural Gourmet to teach continuing education cooking classes and I got the job! Woo hoo!
The woman that interviewed me, Judith Friedman, said “I think you would really enjoy taking the chef’s course, and studying with Annemarie in her Food Therapy program.”
I thought that would be a GREAT idea! Except… I had a full time coaching practice, plus teaching cooking classes at various venues and lecturing at conferences around the country, and I was hosting a television show called Fed Up!
I had a very busy schedule and couldn’t even think of taking on another full time project.
So, I didn’t get to study with Annemarie. Double drats!
A few more years passed, and I was teaching a regular line-up of nighttime cooking classes at the Natural Gourmet: Nourishing Thyroid Health, Adrenal Support, Cooking for Natural Beauty, and Eat to Beat Diabetes.
When the unthinkable happened.
One night, while prepping in the kitchen with the “stages” (kitchen interns) we were chatting it up and getting to know each other. All of a sudden, the four of them completely STOPPED talking, and intently focused on chopping the vegetables.
I said, “What happened? Why is everyone so quiet?”
With their eyes, they signaled for me to look toward door behind me. I quickly turned around to see Annemarie Colbin standing in the doorway.
“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, “Annemarie Colbin! It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you!”
She walked toward me, pointed her finger at me, and gruffly said, “You. Are you Andrea Beaman?”
Uh oh. Her tone wasn’t what I was expecting. What on earth did I do?
She continued walking toward me and held up a book that I recognized immediately. She said, “Did you write this book?” And, she tapped on the cover of my Whole Truth Eating and Recipe Guide.
“Uhhhh… yes. I did.”
She looked at me hard, and said, “What you wrote about eating out of season and how it weakens the bones was very smart. Very smart.”
“Oh gosh… Thank you! I can’t believe you read my book!
She said, “It’s good work.” She smiled. “Keep up the good work.” Then she turned around and walked back out the door.
She was a no-nonsense, no small talk, kind of lady.
The following day, I told my sous chef, Rena Unger, the story about meeting Annemarie. Rena had the privilege of attending both the Chef’s Training Program and Annemarie’s Food Therapy Program.
She said, “Wow, you must’ve been blown away.”
I said, “Rena, it felt as if the clouds parted, and Jesus had come down from the heavens himself to bless me. I was completely flabbergasted and honored that she had actually read my book.”
For months after that I felt like I was floating on air. Can you imagine? Someone who’s work you admire, tells you that your work is “good.”
I continued working at the school and never again saw Annemarie, but always remembered our brief, yet powerful, interaction.
A few years later, I received an invitation to the 35th Anniversary Celebration of the Natural Gourmet Cooking School. Of course, I was excited to attend but, nothing could prepare me for what I saw on the invitation.
The school wanted to honor me with an Award for Excellence in Health Supportive Food Education.
For me, that was like winning the Nobel Peace Prize!
Some people look up to pop stars and celebrities. The people that inspire me to do my work are healers, sages (wise men and women), philosophers and teachers.
As I stepped up to accept my award I realized I was shaking on the inside. Standing in front of Annemarie that day and accepting that award, was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Annemarie Colbin had a profound impact on my path in this world. She inspired me, and countless others, about the deep connection between “Food and Healing.”
Good work Annemarie. Good work.
Rest In Peace.
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.