Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Lisa Roark. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Lisa, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. What’s one of the most important lessons you learned in school?
After becoming certified in Holistic Nutrition and Permaculture, I decided to attend culinary school at Dallas College’s El Centro campus. At 40 years old, it was a bit tough to attend school with a group of 20-somethings who had attended their culinary program in high school. Here I was, a home cook with knowledge of vegetables and fruits in her repertoire, learning from an 18-year-old (who was a fellow culinary student) how to prepare a demi-glace!
I learned to leave my ego at the door in culinary school. True to the nature of the industry, I’ve gotten burned, cut myself and bled on the floor in front of my classmates and instructors, ruined a soufflé, started a fire with a poorly-placed dish rag, and been disgusted by making ingredients into a shape called “forcemeat”, which becomes pate. In the midst of the kitchen mishaps, I developed friendships I cherish, learned who I am as a chef, gained respect for everyone in every aspect of the food industry, and obtained knowledge that is critical to my success as a business owner.
Lisa, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I started Love + Plant + Nourish in 2016, upon graduation from Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and during my Holistic Nutrition certification. During that time, I was enjoying my career in retail management, which was based in the beauty industry. I’d always been fascinated by the ingredients of beauty products, wanting to know how items were grown, harvested, and used to make people feel more beautiful.
In the spring of 2016, I left my lucrative career and decided to play in the dirt, helping businesses and individuals create gardens for varying purposes, giving speeches at farmers markets, and helping clients with nutritious living. By 2018, I was ready to learn how to cook, so I enrolled in Dallas College’s culinary program (then El Centro Food and Hospitality Institute). I graduated with degrees in Culinary Arts as well as Food and Hospitality Management in the spring of 2021. To learn more about my industry and sustain my passions, I took Agronomy (study of field crops), Wildlife Conservation and Management, and Horticulture at Dallas College during that time, which helped me appreciate where ingredients come from.
Now the Program Manager for Turn Compost, I teach zero waste cooking classes, manage the education portion of the business, and manage the residential side of the business. Love + Plant + Nourish is still very much alive, and I offer plant-based cooking classes to groups through my LLC. I am most proud of my commitment to sustainability; through veganism, which is the single best thing we can do for the environment, as it doesn’t promote animal agriculture; through being zero-waste (going strong since 2015!); and through my experience working for a woman-owned small business at Turn.
There is no such thing as away, and there is no planet zero. Practicing mindfulness of what I purchase, what I bring into my home, what I eat, and what I serve is paramount to my success in business and in life.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Word of mouth and recommendations from others is the best source of new clients. I don’t advertise, and social media gets me “likes” but not necessarily business.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
In the summer of 2019, my husband was diagnosed with throat cancer. I was deep into my studies at that time. In the fall, he had the tumor removed from his throat, along with 58 lymph nodes. Luckily, the cancer was discovered quickly enough to require only radiation, which he went to every day before work. (The man didn’t miss a day of work during his treatment!)
There were times I cried in class. My saucier class on Fridays was particularly difficult, as my husband was very tired and weak by the end of the week, and it devastated me. Post-op he lost his sense of taste, which worsened during treatment and continues today. I often struggled with my career choice and what I was in school for. After all, why become a chef when my husband can’t taste what I’m cooking for him, and when he struggles to even swallow it?
It began to click when I put my Holistic Nutrition education to work. I was determined to make his body alkaline, so I prepared nutritious smoothies and soups for him to enjoy. Even though the flavor was missing for him, the nourishment was not. My husband endured the treatment without any pain medication or feeding tubes, which is atypical for the majority of throat cancer patients.
His perseverance and resilience inspired me to regain mine, and I continued in my culinary school journey. My classmates and instructors were very understanding and held me through breakdowns, and I am forever grateful!
- Website: https://www.ikeandelisorganicfarm.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisa.cooks.plants/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisacooksplants
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-roark-b2252b31/
All photos are mine.