I love food. LOVE. IT. ...
My path to ice cream began as a child with a summertime visit to my grandparents, in their very small town in Saskatchewan; sitting on a stoop on Main Street with my grandfather, feet from the towns' soda fountain, slowly enjoying every lick of my first scoop of handmade butterscotch ice cream on a freshly pressed cone. It was our tradition and treat together that no one knew about, and solidified ice cream as my go to comfort food, and old-fashioned from-scratch practices as something I cherish to this day.
Like many, I grew up in the kitchens of my parents. My father's in Toronto; my mother's in the Bay Area, California. No matter where in the world I rolled up my sleeves, from an early age I showed a natural flare for the work being in a kitchen commanded, and more, for the innovation the unique 'lab' environment fostered. My mother, Maria, was a particularly gifted baker and overall maker of all things sweet; her love was spoken in the language of fresh-from-the-oven aromas, cookies and cobblers, which I greeted with open arms (and mouth) and palpable anticipation each time I visited her. She always had some kind of special treat baking, chilling, or freezing to fondly offer family and friends, give to neighbours, or to me when I would arrive home. My inherent foodie cravings would push her to experiment with new and different sweet endeavours, of which a gourmet ice cream flavor always magically made the list. I'd make sure of it.
By 1999, my childhood indulgences had caught up with me, and then some. I was an overweight, unhappy recently diagnosed celiac with too many food allergies to count. To cope I was put on a very extreme high animal protein (now what is known as paleo / low carb) diet. I began deciphering every label I could (because gluten-free wasn't a thing back then) which seemed to help decrease the immediate discomfort I felt; I tried to introduce safe commercial 'alternatives' into my diet for the first time, but what was available back then was really low quality, absolutely tasteless, grainy and were the definitions of the word 'substitution', not a so-called alternative in my book or even a food, and definitely not something I was willing to eat for the 'rest of my life'. Stubbornly so, I chose instead to binge every now and then on the staples I was used to, in the face of my diagnosis and suffering terribly but at least I had my fix. I know many of you know this story personally.
Going home to the Bay Area for Christmas that year with my list of new food demands threw many new curve balls at my mom's time-honored baking; under her ever-patient and watchful eye, I revamped and reinvented her trusted recipes so I could eat & enjoy them, and so could others without setting off alarm bells. So began my pursuit, love and life of substitution baking and molecular gastronomy.
For a few years, my diet 'worked', or so I thought; though my body was shutting down with every mouthful (and I was still binging periodically), really low to no carbs with an abnormal intake of animal meat, cheese, milk and eggs kept me going (or did it?) and I managed to be 'healthy' enough to graduate, head to culinary schools both in the US and Canada, start and run a local allergy-free bakeshop and achieve my Red Seal professional chef designation, too.
Somehow I made it to 2007; by this time even my business had begun to transition to 'vegan' (dairy-free, etc.) and was picking up speed, creating astounding works of edible art and catering to all types of taste buds and palates, from those with conditions to those just craving a kick-ass sweet treat. The queen of substitutions, I earned my stripes in every dietary (free & non) arena, also recreating other families' time-honoured baking recipes with flare. But, have you ever heard of a chef that didn't eat what she made? That was me. The 'fear of carbs' had me by the throat (or stomach), especially as a celiac and high-paleo devotee; sweets were off the list—actually, most real food was. [True story: I had once considered becoming a competitive eater—I believe I still hold the women's title of 73 in an hour (gross) at my local Buffalo wing joint, but that's a different story altogether.... ]
The added stress of the culinary industry becoming physically visible, my body began to reflect the long battle inside; I had addressed everything but what was on my plate (or in my pint), and why, with every practitioner that I could get an appointment with, but I still wasn't well. That summer in particular I felt 'off' like never before, was way below a healthy weight and my symptoms were out of control; I couldn't catch up anymore. I went back again to my main doctor ...and that's when my life changed forever; I was in the early stages of liver disease and kidney failure—I had about 8 months to clean up my act or it was curtains for me. Angry with all the medical misinformation I'd gotten over the years and my lack of responsibility with my own health, I put my career on hold and high-tailed it to holistic nutrition college to learn how to fix myself—committed to curing my condition, to regain and restore my health. Cue the introduction of a plant-based diet.
It worked. Oh my goodness, did it ever. I healed my body, had renewed energy and was able to return to business as usual, but something still wasn't right: the plant-based products available at my local health food store were still full of cr*p–and still tasted like it, too. Though there were more products on the shelves now to help me make the diet transition, they made me FEEL like I was missing out, like I'd have to give up the love and memory my grandfather and I had shared so long ago. I refused to take part in that. Between classes, studies and my healing, I made it my mission to find the perfect commercially available pint to stick to my new diet, and continued to work on the familiar tastes I had once loved but couldn't stomach.
...this is where I admit that I fell off the wagon. You've heard this story before, it might even be yours, too: though I'd come miles with gluten-free, and had my own evolving food company, I just couldn't give up my animal-based staples like cheese, ice cream and yogurt, those taste sensations and the comfort they provided. The alternatives just didn't satisfy my cravings and made me feel deprived, othered. I added the conventional staples back into my diet slowly and in limited quantities, and made a point of making lifestyle changes to keep my former conditions at bay, or I should say 'dormant'. Still going for in for medical monitoring, all of my allergies and conditions were still registering in my body at every test.
And then, Canadian Thanksgiving 2012, after returning home from a huge ham & turkey dinner (with all of the leftovers) I saw a video. I think it had to do with puppy mills. You know how Facebook works; one leads to another. And another. And then you Google it. ......and then I made the connection. Not just one to my own health & suffering—THE connection. Cue veganism. For real this time.
My cravings stopped cold. I ate the right things with ease and enthusiasm. I stopped focusing on body image. My body healed itself. All of my allergies cleared up, as did my allergy to gluten. Yes, you read that right: I am no longer a celiac. My blood tests showed no signs of *ever* being sick, let alone have any of the aforementioned conditions. I had brand new lease on life, and was feeling bionic (no, really—I still do) and decided that this is something everyone had to, *has to* experience. More, I was more stoked and in love with food than every before.
Making the connection beyond myself to everything, everyone—between food and my health, and food and the health of others and the planet, I decided I wanted to create lasting change that would reach far beyond any kind of local activism (animal or otherwise) that I could (and did) participate in. I became what I call a Culinary Activist, uniting my chef skills, RHN and newly-minted VLCE services. I still longed occasionally for a bite of something indulgent enough to transport and sweet enough to feel special, and knew I had to figure out a way to satisfy my vegan cravings and make this accessible to everyone. So of course, I decided to throwback to my first love: ice cream.
In 2013, I folded my bakeshop after a dream I'd had of opening a local scoop shop, bustling with families enjoying my ice creams with reckless abandon, seeing how easy and fun it was to eat vegan, just as I had found it. I awoke with 'clear eyes and a full heart', dusted off all my old recipes and my mom's recipes too, updated them to suit my new holistic and compassionate needs, creating something both good for your body and sweet-loving spirit, and began churning ice creams with the finest, freshest whole, raw and vegan ingredients I could find. Coupled with a healthful, mindful perspective and the taste explosions I want to recreate; with my appreciation for old-fashioned, modern and pop culture influences and practices; my childhood experiences, mother's love and my life adventures; with the sweet power of change—and the change I want to be, to effect, and to see in the world, for the world ...PXVXC was born.
So there you have it; that's the story. 2015, the ball is most definitely rolling; I will continue to do the best I can to make this company and our products reach as far and wide as possible. Thanks so much for all of your enthusiasm, and please like us on our social media sites, sign up for our newsletter to stay tuned as the plan for PXVXC's Sweet Global Domination unfolds. With your support, it's possible—magically, deliciously so.
If you're new here, thanks for checking us out, and taking the time to learn about me. If you have any feedback, questions or comments, don't hesitate to get in touch.
I truly hope you'll try and love what has become my life's (most excellent and delicious) passion and purpose, as much as I do.
For the animals—us all,