My Journey: A word from Postmodern Foods' Owner and Chef, Denise Hicks
After attending The University of Virginia, I was living in Los Angeles and working as a product manger for Ticketmaster/Live Nation. I had worked my way up to running a multi-million dollar international project. I was literally burning the candle at both ends: the job created a lot of pressure and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my twenties (my fun nor my youth!). Landing on my pillow at 4AM and waking at 8AM became my standard. It was a deadly combination. I was stressed, not taking care of myself, and getting away with it for so long as my body would let me. Then, suddenly, I got a wake-up call.
My body began shutting down. I had sudden onset arthritis, among other issues. I visited several doctors, but no one had a diagnosis. My health continued suffering. At the time, I was twenty-eight years old and I couldn't help but thinking, “I’m too young for this.” My illness lead me to have a more meaningful conversation with my body. It started telling me what it needed and I began listening for the first time. I ate salads (and I never craved salads before that... in fact, I could hardly tolerate greens!). I started falling asleep earlier. I stopped drinking as much. I cut out processed sugar, animal products, and processed foods. I trained for the Malibu triathlon. The change in my body and mood was dramatic. By the end of 2010, I was in the best mental and physical health of my life.
I realized the change in my dietary choices had a direct affect on not just my physical, but mental health. When you make good life choices, everyone comments on your physical improvements. They’ll say, “Your hair is so shiny”, or “your skin is glowing.” “You look ten years younger.” These are awesome compliments and are definitely outward indicators of healthier choices. But there’s also an internal shift that no one else really sees. For me, that was shifting from a certain “darkness” to “lightness.” These are the definitely deeper indicators of change that the “weight-loss” industry doesn’t always celebrate.
I spent a lot of time in my own kitchen preparing food and fell in love with it. I found it almost like meditation. I found a lot of peace in it, but I also found it powerful. What we choose to eat is hugely impactful for both our health and the health of the environment. I made the decision, then and there, to become a "Health Supportive" Chef. This is someone who focuses on healthful ingredients and healthy food preparation. At some other restaurants, there’s a lot of thought that goes into the presentation and flavor -- but not health. I wanted to exclusively concentrate on food that makes you well. It’s the best thing I can do for me, for the people around me, and for the environment.
I researched culinary schools that would be inline with my views and found Natural Gourmet Institute. The Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan is the only accredited, "health supportive" culinary school in the country. I sometimes call it the Harvard of culinary schools that focus on wellness. Bethany Frankel, Tal Ronen, Chloe Coscarelli are also alumni. At Natural Gourmet Institute, half of our studies were dedicated to technique and half were dedicated to the nutritional impact of the food. So, for example, half the day we’d study Ayurveda, an ancient Indian way of eating, and doshas and balancing doshas. We’d then spend the rest day cooking for one of the doshas.
I learned a ton about food, fell in love with it even more. Shortly thereafter, I returned to my hometown: Washington, DC. The food I wanted to eat didn’t exist outside of my own kitchen. So, I decided to be the solution and to create Postmodern Foods. It felt like it was the perfect venue to apply my chef and business training. Creatively, I’ve designed the menu for me, but we’re also tapping into an underserved community and challenging the conventional notion of “what is food." We hope you come visit us and taste the difference!
Postmodern Foods would like to thank the following people for being "Business Supportive" Friends and Family:
Art and Angel Hicks
Vural and Gulgun Gorener
Lindsay and Keith Schneider
Heather and Erik Segersten
Carol and Bill Snodgrass
Eric and Michelle Sullano
"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." - Marcel Proust