I met Lauren after attending her incredible movement class: MOVES. She is a talented chef, and an avid traveler so I wanted to dive deep into memories, sensory details, and what Pure Joy really means to her.
Melisa: I have not known you for that long but my first impression of you is how incredibly present you are in your body energetically. I know movement is a huge part of your life. Can you tell me a little about your culture and upbringing and how it informs your movement practice today?
Lauren: I am the daughter of creative, open minded, and free spirited parents. Growing up in Southern California I was exposed to the diversity that thrives within the art, design, dance, music, and culinary worlds. I was taught from a young age the importance of respecting my body and mind as well as being offered the freedom to express myself. I think I was dancing in the womb, but I began training as a young child and have been devoting my life to that exploration ever since. I live by the idea that positivity reigns supreme and I hope that radiates not only when I am dancing, but merely existing in life.
Melisa: You are also a talented chef- I love how your cooking is based on travel-you and your partner are hired to cook on location and sailing trips. My father cooks our meals when we are sailing for a week and what I am drawn to the most is how seasonal and local cooking becomes when you decide to cook all your meals during travel. Can you tell me more about how you started offering your cooking this way?
Lauren: The way life unfolds is absolutely mind blowing to me! I decided to cook professionally right out of college and began cooking in Italy. I then started a creative culinary company, bigLITTLE, with my best friend, Flannery, which is now almost 15 years old!!! During that time I also worked as Marc Jacobs' private chef for a little over six years which opened many doors and enabled me to cook for incredible human beings. After being based in New York City for over a decade I
decided that I wanted to change it up and work more as a traveling chef, both privately and for companies. I am one of the chefs for The Sailing Collective and I have also been the private chef for Sky Ting, Love, Three Suns, and Sacred Fig yoga retreats. I am a firm believer that if you put yourself out there and open yourself to opportunities they will come. I am fortunate enough to be immersed in supportive communities. There is tremendous power in word of mouth... I am
"I live by the idea that positivity reigns supreme and I hope that radiates not only when I am dancing, but merely existing in life."
Melisa: What is the best recipe you go to during travel- something easy and approachable.
Lauren: EGGS!!!! There is no other protein that is as versatile as the egg. Savory or sweet, they are a necessary component in so many recipes. I love taking the idea of Shakshuka and getting very creative with it. No matter where I am in the world I can take the best of local ingredients, make a beautifully cooked down stew of sorts, top it with a fried or poached egg, and serve with delicious bread or grain. On the topic of grain, I love rice too. I can get very creative with a rice bowl which is something I always encourage the wary cook... think about what you love and go
"Pure Joy is when your face hurts from smiling so much, when your voice is tired from screaming and laughing, when your heart is so full it feels like it could explode out of your chest."
Melisa: What is your earliest memory of travel? Was it with your family? What are some sensory and visual details that come to mind? Any particular taste and dish?
Lauren: Summers on the Chesapeake bay with my family eating Maryland hard shell crabs. My grandfather built a beautiful house for our family right on the water on Kent Island and it has been the meeting place for reunions ever since. There is always food and cocktails being made from morning to night. We put out huge picnic tables and cover them with newspaper, bowls of
melted butter, vinegar, old bay, and beers. When the massive bags of steaming hot spiced crabs arrive everyone rushes to the tables and we spend hours under the sun picking out the sweet meat, laughing and sharing stories. It has been my happy place for as long as I can remember, if I close my eyes I can smell & taste what summer is in my heart!
Melisa: What would the soundtrack for this time and place be?
Lauren: Oldies blasting on the radio and the extremely loud volume of all of my aunts and uncles and cousins trying to get a word in.
Melisa: Where do you dream of visiting next? And what are your travel essentials when it is stripped to an optimum? Clothing, music, self care and tools?
Lauren: I cannot wait to return to Italy!!! it is my favorite place and it is so dear to my heart. But in terms of a place I have yet to go, I would love to experience the food and cultures in Israel and Turkey! I travel a lot now so I have a pretty solid go to list for packing. However, it very much depends on where I am going and what I’ll be doing. Chefs knives, kitchen tools, bathing suits, linen button down shirts, shorts, work out clothes, linné beauty products, texas cedar wood oil, lip balm,
Melisa: How do you like shaping your day during travel loosely speaking? What kind of rituals do you like to include?
Lauren: I am an early riser and I love coffee so that is first on my list. If I am near water I jump in while coffee is brewing. I prefer to work out in the morning, but while traveling I will fit it in whenever I can. I travel with weighted jump ropes and do at least three 7 minute work outs which is a great exercise app! If I am in a city I will hit the streets and can walk for hours on end. I enjoy getting lost and finding cool places off the beaten path. I also love going to local markets and buying goodies. I find it is also the best place to make new friends and find out what the locals do and where to eat. I am also a sun worshipper and have been known to sit and bake myself for hours on end :)
Melisa: How do you describe comfort at its best? What items are you drawn to wearing during dance and any sort of movement? Do you agree that physical comfort and is the base layer for confidence?
Lauren: Comfort is when I feel loved and secure, surrounded by those that bring me joy and light. I am a traditionalist when it comes to gear. I wear black leotards and black shorts. I think that if you feel incredible that will be apparent, confidence isn’t about what you’re wearing but it certainly is about how you feel!
Melisa: Can you describe what Pure Joy means to you- it can be a sound, or a place...
Lauren: Pure Joy is when your face hurts from smiling so much, when your voice is tired from screaming and laughing, when your heart is so full it feels like it could explode out of your chest.
Melisa: Lastly, what does success mean to you at this moment?
Lauren: Knowing that I have people who love me and who treasure me for all that I am, no matter what.
Thank you Lauren :)