My name is Shannon Valle and I am a graduate of the Natural Chef Program. I was born and raised in San Francisco and for the past 24 years I have lived in Union City, CA.
After graduating from UC Davis and Sonoma State University with a teaching credential, I taught English and history at a junior high school in Santa Rosa, CA. After three years of teaching, I became pregnant with my first of five children. I was 25 and was suffering from poor digestion and a peptic ulcer. I started to research holistic modalities to heal my condition and diets that could help relieve my symptoms.
As a new mom, it became vital for me to figure out how to best nourish my family. I went on a quest, researching everything from specialty diets to homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, Ayurveda, and herbs. Some time in the early 90s I learned about Bauman College and took a community cooking class at their Sonoma County location in Penngrove, CA, which fueled my passion for holistic health and cooking. In my early twenties I had thought about attending culinary school, but the cost prevented me from pursuing this dream. I became a home cook, which was satisfying, but left me craving more culinary knowledge.
I kept returning to the philosophy of food as medicine. This was intuitive to me because food had always been the glue that held my family together. My grandfather emigrated from the Philippines and became a sous chef at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. My Native American and Aztec grandmother shared her cultural traditions, which always included gathering to eat and laugh as a community.
While raising my family and teaching almost 20 yoga classes per week, my health started to deteriorate from stress. Then, three life changing events led me back to Bauman College. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with scleroderma and passed away three months later. A few months after her passing, my father was diagnosed with cancer, then my husband lost his job due to severe clinical depression and grief. These events made me realize that I needed to follow my heartfelt intention to learn how to prepare restorative and healing food. So, about 17 years after first learning about Bauman College, I decided to follow my heart and apply to the Natural Chef Program.
I love Bauman College’s mission to support people in achieving optimal health. Their comprehensive program offered the knowledge, tools, experience, atmosphere, and instructor support that I needed to shift the way I thought about food and how I was living my life. I wanted to walk my talk and deepen my understanding of food and wellness.
I loved every minute of my time at Bauman College. I began the program at a challenging time when both my father and husband were not well—my father passed away during my second week of the program. However, being in the program was very healing and grounding for me. It was challenging (in a good way) and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. After finishing the program I knew it was up to me to find my niche. At first I wasn’t exactly sure how to use my knowledge, so I made a commitment to myself to cook something new every day. I also kept studying nutrition and other chefs’ work, cookbooks, and shows. I applied everything I learned to my work.
I am currently a personal chef. Chef Camila Loew, one of my instructors at Bauman College, took me under her wing and shared many job opportunities with me. In the beginning I said “yes” to almost every cooking opportunity that came my way, whether it was paid or not. This networking led to paid cooking opportunities and long-term clients. I have had the opportunity to cook for professional athletes including a boxer, a basketball player for the Golden State Warriors, and two football players for the Oakland Raiders. I have taught cooking classes, organized community dinners, cooked plant-based meals for weekend retreats, served four-course meals to large groups, and traveled to Spain for a culinary tour. My two sons will be completing the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program soon and we plan to join forces to work with athletes together. We are also looking into selling coffee, tea, and healthy breakfast foods at local farmers markets.
Bauman College offers comprehensive training with the information and hands-on experience to be successful in the culinary world. It is up to each individual to hone their skills through daily practice, self-study, and research that enlivens their passion to share the Eating for Health® model. Cooking is not only healing, it is an art and offers unlimited, creative ways to earn a living.
For recipe inspiration, follow me on Instagram.