What does it take to be a holistic nutritionist and chef who specializes in natural, organic, hormone-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, no sugar added meals that taste fresh and delicious? If you’re Linda Baldwin, owner and chef extraordinaire at Intelligent Gourmet in Tampa, Florida, it takes love, dedication, and getting in the kitchen by 4:30 a.m.
Linda began her culinary career as a much-sought after caterer in Tampa Bay. The more Linda learned about food, and how it affects people’s health, the more she wanted to shift her focus to holistic nutrition. She earned her degree from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has been juicing and cooking for health-minded clients ever since.
I recently spent some time behind the scenes at Intelligent Gourmet, talking with Linda while she and her staff buzzed about the kitchen. Feeding her clients pure, clean, energizing food is what fuels Linda. You can’t help but admire her. She has tapped into her passion and developed a talent.
During the afternoon I spent with her she put together the yummiest chicken picadillo I have ever had. That’s part of Linda’s magic. She takes a traditional, “I can only have this on a cheat day” recipe and turns it into the best version you’ve tasted (and not to mention, the healthiest).
It takes dedication to make food this clean and delicious, and Linda’s schedule is intense. She and her husband Pat are in the kitchen every day before sunrise and sometimes not out the door until close to sunset. She works at this pace six days a week. On Sundays, she shops for the coming week.
When Linda arrives in her kitchen at 4:30 a.m. she begins by making juice for her clients who are on her signature juice cleanses. Linda offers one, three, or seven day juice cleanses that consist of six different juices each day.
I have juiced several times with Linda, and I can tell you, it is addicting. The juices are flavorful and unique and have names like “Glowing Sunshine” (loaded with the superfood raw maca) and “Beautiful Inside & Out” (brimming with watercress and spinach). On any given day, Linda could be preparing juices for twenty clients. At six juices each, that’s a lot of juice. And a lot of compost, which she adds to her organic garden.
By 10:00 a.m. Linda is starting on the lunch and dinner meal orders. Amazingly, Linda knows each one of her clients, what they are allergic to, what they like, and what they don’t. If you stay in the kitchen long enough and you’ll see her make dishes like vegan pad thai, mojo pork, and chicken burgers with pomegranate ketchup. Each meal is weighed to include the client’s requested amount of protein (four, six, or nine ounces) and is properly balanced between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Linda has several clients who suffer from celiac disease and must avoid gluten. Because she has seen first hand the negative effects gluten can have on everyone (not just those with celiac disease), she has mastered the art of preparing flavorful gluten-free meals.
In doing so, she uses different combinations of flours, such as brown rice, oatmeal, arrow root, and chickpea, based on her clients’ preferences. I was lucky enough to try one of her gluten free pizza crusts, which I topped with Daiya dairy-free cheese and Applegate nitrate-free pepperoni. I liked it more than my favorite pizza I have when I visit Chicago.
After Linda and her team prepare the seventy-five to one hundred pre-ordered meals are made, they start prepping for the next day. 4:30 a.m. will come all too soon, and it’s better to have a headstart.
Linda’s juices are exceptional and her meals are delicious. But the organic ingredients are only part of the equation. What makes Linda and the whole team at Intelligent Gourmet beyond compare is the passion and love that goes into each and every ounce of what they make.
With all that great energy, she’s found a way to nourish our bodies and our souls. No wonder we all keep coming back for more.
YOUR FUN, SEXY, SPIRITUAL HOMEWORK
- Check out Intelligent Gourmet online.
- See their weekly menu here. Don’t live in Tampa? No worries. Intelligent Gourmet will ship!
- Like Intelligent Gourmet on Facebook and learn tips for healthy eating.