Getting a Food Fix with The Kitchenista, Rachel Willen, is an experience that will bring the magic of cooking great food into your life. Trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York and with over 30 years of professional and home cooking experience, Chef Rachel has much to share with you. You will eat better, cook better and live better as a result, and you’ll have a blast doing it. Rachel says, “My style is all about laughter and creativity and being at ease in the kitchen. When you cook you have to focus on the here and now, tune into your instincts and senses and everything else you have to worry about goes on the back burner (pun intended!)”
Like a great meal, my food journey has had many courses. My earliest memories were laced with the fear that my fragile mother might die. My mom was sick often when I was a child, due to the long-term effects of starvation from three years spent in Nazi concentration camps. It forced me to become aware, from a very young age, how the foods we eat, or the lack of good nutrition, can devastate the body. Ironically, my mother found work as a restaurant cook after the WWII, and spent the rest of her life celebrating food and nurturing family and friends with wonderful, abundant meals. My mom showed me that while food nurtures the body—it’s cooking that nurtures the soul. Food was her artistry, her meditation, her gift to the world around her. She fed her family—but she did it for herself too.
Food Fix-ing may have been my destiny, but I didn’t know it. As a former actor, model, stand-up comic, graphic artist, writer and teacher—it seemed like all the diverse paths I took in life led me back to food. Wherever I went to pursue other careers—Chicago, Los Angeles—I ended up in the kitchen, flying by the seat of my pants, and making people happy with my food. It’s where I felt most at home. This led to me starting an L.A. private chef and catering business that incorporated one of my other life-long passions: fitness, nutrition and healthy, organic, sustainable living. Through word of mouth, I ended up with celebrity and entertainment industry clients that turned to me to fill their freezers or dinner party tables with delicious, healthy meals.
It’s no coincidence that I met and married a man with a similar mission, Dr. Doug Willen, whose waiting-list wellness practice, makes him the go-to nutritional guru to a long list of New York’s stage and screen performers, as well as people from all walks of city life.
We have have two children, Lily, a high school honor student, and Max, 23, who followed in his mother’s “foodsteps” and is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Max is currently a chef de partie at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City.
Rachel is a graduate of The Professional Culinary Arts Program at The French Culinary Institute in New York (Pictured above with the three FCI Deans and mentors, master chefs Alain Sailhac, Andre Soltner and Jacques Pepin). She is a member of the Women’s Chef and Restaurateur Association, and The James Beard Foundation.