I had been cleaning cabins in the Santa
Cruz Mountains and was asked to clean
up at a doctor’s seminar. They said I
did a beautiful job and asked me to
come back next week. I came back with
my cleanings upplies, and they asked,
“What’s that?” I said, “I thought you
wanted me to come back.” They said,
“We do, but we don’t want you to clean,
we want you to cook!” I told them I
didn’t know how to cook, and they said,
“Don’t worry we’ll teach you.”
is available now
I ended up cooking for Dr. Pierre Pannetier for two years. It
was here I began learning the therapeutic value of natural
foods. I began to flourish in this atmosphere, taking note that
amongst doctors and healers in the natural medicine field
there was general agreement that greater healing took place
on a vegetarian diet. The dietary recommendations then, were
80% raw and 20% cooked. Yes, believe it or not, this was in
By word of mouth, (and taste buds) I was fortunate enough to
be referred to other doctors who needed a vegetarian chef.
These doctors are now noted for their pioneering work in
preventative medicine, herbology, natural healing and
nutrition: Michael Tierra, Bernard Jensen, Paavo Airola, and
Michael Klaper. Each doctor has lectured, published books
and led many workshops. They were teaching about specific
health conditions and recommending specific foods for those
health conditions. I began putting meals together for the
seminar students and doctors that reflected the health
principles that were being taught.
Photo at left: This photo was taken on Dr. Jensen’s 85th birthday.
His birthday party had been cancelled because he was not well. He
was so happy that I gave him a classic Bible, something he dearly
wanted, that he spontaneously kissed me. Dr. Jensen was my
family doctor and friend; I had known him since I was 16 and we
worked together professionally for many years. Photographs of
some of my food arrangements are in his books.
My mother had an extensive health library that she used as
reference whenever she was called upon for nutritional advice.
One day, to my great surprise and delight, she gave
me her entire collection of books. I knew the value she had placed upon these books and when I asked her
why she was giving them to me she answered, “I read every book, and they drove me crazy!” I took that to
mean she must have found a great deal of controversy and contradiction amongst the so-called “experts.”
I was thrilled to see that she had included Dr. Paavo Airola’s books in the gifted collection. He was at the
top of the list of respected authors. Because my mom was so impressed with Dr. Airola, and I respected her
knowledge about nutrition, I began to seek out ways that I could personally study with him. One day I
decided to call him, and to my amazement, through my detective work I found a direct line and reached
him personally. I told him that I was interested in his work because I felt that Vegetarianism was the wave
of the future and morally correct due to my understanding. He asked where I gained my understanding and
I explained that I understood this from my meditation. He asked if I would please come to his seminar in
Montana as his guest. The seminar was packed with knowledge and facts about Vegetarianism, as well as
testimonials from doctors and health professionals sharing about their experiences. I was given an A+ on
When I spoke with Paavo at the end of the seminar, I asked about a teacher I could study with when I
returned home. He answered, “You don’t need any other teachers.” I then said “You don’t understand, I
am serious about my work in nutrition.” He said, “You don’t need any other teachers, you study with me.”
After the next seminar on the West Coast, I asked Paavo to be my mentor in Nutrition and he said yes.
What impressed me so much about Dr. Airola’s work was that medical doctors very
heavily endorsed him. I was pleased to note that on the back cover of his book titled
Every Woman’s Book, were endorsements from seven medical doctors.
Dr. Paavo Airola gave me certification as a Nutritional Consultant. Among his tenets
was the advocacy of juicing for therapeutic conditions and the recommendation of
fermented dairy products such as kefir milk for digestion, as well as dairy in general.
Most doctors were still recommending dairy products in those days, the years preceding
the shocking findings about the harms of dairy.
Dr. Paavo Airola and Marilyn
In 1974, I was living in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Michael Tierra’s Garden of SanJivani, a residential
School for natural healing and spiritual studies. I was asked to teach my first class in food preparation.
How did I feel about this? To say I was “anxious and nervous” would have been a gross understatement. I
was teaching my very first cooking class to a group of Doctors, Acupuncturists, Herbalists, etc., who
probably knew more about nutrition than I did. To alleviate my shyness and insecurity, I invested a great
deal of time in food and class content preparation. I knew that I had to be highly organized. As I prepped
for the dishes that I would teach, I also rehearsed what I would say about the dishes, so that I could feel, if
not relaxed, at least well grounded as I stepped into this brand new experience. I carefully labeled all of
the prepared dishes and placed them in the refrigerator. This must have made it extra convenient for the
midnight refrigerator raider. The next day, when I went into the kitchen just before class, EVERYTHING
was gone except the empty, dirty containers in the sink. WOW! I was stunned. This called for instant
adjustment. I adapted, immediately swung into a spontaneous cooking style and dazzled the doctors. It was
a hit. In fact, that spur-of-the-moment teaching style worked so well, it is still with me today. “Look, Ma,
The Spa Circuit
Then my career moved on to spas: Murrietta, Cal-A-Vie, and consulting for Dr.
Deepak Chopra at his new Mind/Body Center. At Cal-a-Vie, world famous spa
resort, Rosie Daley (former Oprah Winfrey chef) hired me. Rosie and I had
previously worked together at a restaurant in San Diego called “Basil St. Café.”
She wanted me to become her sous-chef, but since I was vegan, I could not taste
the animal/dairy dishes, and I had to pass on that opportunity. I developed
menus and prepared meals at Cal-a-Vie spa for guests with special dietary
needs related to aller-gies and specific health problems. I lectured on the subject of natural foods, and
assisted Rosie Daley at weekly spa cuisine cooking classes for their guests. I also created vegetable
baskets served daily to guests at Cal-a-Vie; they were frequently photographed. “Magnificently
gorgeous! You do beautiful work!” (Cal-a-Vie investor)
A Wing and a Prayer
Around 1996, I came to L.A. on a wing and a prayer and my credit card. I wanted to be “discovered” as
a star in the vegan chef world and was willing to do whatever it took, money or no. My first client was
Vicky, wife of the star of Victor Victoria playing on Broadway, a popular actor, Michael Nori. It was in
LA that I met and catered for Howard Lyman, the ex- cattle rancher turned vegan who later got sued
along with Oprah Winfrey for his expose’ about beef that he presented on her show. Julie Cromwell,
wife of James Cromwell saw my catered presentation for Howard Lyman and asked if I would cater her
mother’s birthday party.
A Babe with a Babe
I moved to San Diego to work with a client who was referred to me by the nutritionist at Cal-A-Vie.
After working with my client for 3 months, he gave me severance pay of room and board for a month,
plus $10,000. As this came to a close, I received a phone call from Julie Cromwell asking me to move in
with them as their chef/assistant. Back to LA I went, becoming a live-in chef with the Cromwell’s for a
period of time (until they moved). As a result of this, I was later in Christian Paer’s book, Celebrities
and Their Chefs, with James Cromwell, Babe (the movie star pig), and my recipes. While in Los
Angeles, I also had the opportunity to consult and cook for Julie Cromwell’s mother, Helen Beverly, a
famous Jewish actress, wife of Actor, Lee J. Cobb.
Dr. Michael Klaper, known for his work in teaching vegan nutrition to doctors,
nurses, and health practitioners, called me from Hawaii, to say that he was
meeting with an investor in San Diego, whom he wanted to sample Vegan food,
and asked if I would come out and prepare a meal for them. It was a long
commute from L.A., where I was living at the time, but I was up for it! As I was
about to serve the meal, in walked the investor’s girlfriend, Rue McClanahan.
Rue had just come from visiting her doctor. After the meal, we began a
conversation about health. She shared with me what was going on with her and I
asked if she would like my recommendations. After we spoke, she asked for my card. A couple of weeks
later she called and hired me to cook three meals a day, lunch & dinner to go, while she was on the set.
Soon after she finished that movie, she moved to New York to do a play. By the way, her favorite
breakfast was buckwheat and toasted pumpkin seeds and she loved Kombucha squash, blended very
thick, as a dessert.
A medical doctor and his wife owned the Zosa Ranch, a B & B where I was resident
manager12. I invited Dr. Benjamin Spock and his wife, Mary Martin, to be my guests for
dinner. They graciously accepted. I later heard Doctor Spock speak at a press conference
given by Dr. Neal Barnard, saying, "Up until two years of age, a child should be
breast-fed. No child, after the age of two, requires animal or dairy product."
Consulting with Deepak Chopra was an exciting experience for me. His Ayurvedic menu was being
prepared at his new Mind/Body Center by the hotel chefs, who, to me, seemed angry and resentful about
having to learn this new food preparation style that was entirely apart from their own consciousness. I
pointed out that those vibrations were going into the food and recommended that he seek and hire a
trained Ayurvedic chef, someone who loved that way of cooking and put that love into the food. This
would create an all-around healing atmosphere for his clientele. The next thing I suggested was, since
this program was in Los Angeles, with many aware, health-conscious people, that he consider whole
grains, rather than refined grains, as well as organic vegetables and fruits. In the midst of our consulting,
he called his secretary and told her to see that a video was prepared for the staff about food consciousness
and also to start looking for an Ayurvedic chef.
Five years after the “wing-and-prayer” flight to LA, my wish to be “discovered”
came true; SPA Magazine published my photo and a four-page article about me
titled “Vegan Chef of the Rich and Famous” in September 2001. This was a
thrill for me to see my dream up in lights so to speak. I had been a busy chef as
time slid by on golden wings. Then, as I looked back, I realized there were
many other facets, many other little lights on the marquee that were part of
becoming successful. To me, success means helping to make a positive
difference in the world, which includes less suffering for humans and animals.
I am in good health and high spirits. I have an ocean of gratitude for all that I have learned and for all the
benefits this knowledge has brought to me and to others I have shared it with.
A friend of mine was going to a seminar, and I asked her to give a note to Louise Hay,
asking her to call me. I had only met Louise briefly at a presentation by Deepak Chopra. It
was there that I gave her my resume, which later opened the door to my consulting with
Deepak. A couple of weeks after the Deepak Chopra event, Louise called me, and I invited
her to lunch at Zosa Ranch. She came with a friend and I can remember jumping up and
down with excitement when I saw her. She got a big kick out of that.