Darshana Thacker

Chef Darshana Thacker is a vegan chef who specializes in whole-food, plant-based cuisine. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she’s known for her hearty and distinctly flavorful creations, which draw inspiration from a wide range of ethnic traditions. Chef Darshana was the recipe author of Forks Over Knives Family and a lead recipe contributor for the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online.

And if you’d like to know more about how I came to be a chef, here’s my story…

The most memorable times of my early childhood were the fun-filled summer holidays spent in my mother’s family home in a small town near Mumbai, India. During the summertime, there could easily be 50 adults (lots of aunts and uncles!) and children in the house. I spent a lot of time in the big kitchen helping the ladies of the family prepare the meals. While I carried out tasks like rolling bread, setting the table, or serving the food, I observed carefully what the master cooks – my mom and aunts – were doing. I learned how herbs, spices, and foods should be mixed together to create the finest vegetarian homemade dining I knew.

As we got older, my family, as many other families have done over the past few decades, moved away from the traditional diet. Foods became richer, the meals more elaborate, and we ate out more and more. Over the course of a decade, dairy, fried, and westernized food became a significant portion of our plates. I noticed the food still tasted good, but I no longer was feeling healthy. I longed for less fatty, more simply prepared meals ­– meals that would be tasty and make me feel good!

In my twenties, western T.V. arrived. I soon became fascinated with The Food Network, where I learned about various international foods and the multitude of ways meals can be prepared. I wanted to learn how to cook! However, I wasn’t interested in using meat. I wanted to adopt the cooking concepts I was learning and apply it to Indian, vegetarian cuisine. Using what I was learning on T.V. and the time spent in my family kitchen growing up, I began creating my own original recipes. My cooking career, you might say, had begun!

I Adopt a Healthy Vegan Diet

In 2001, I migrated to the United States. I began learning about food production and became troubled with how milk and eggs made its way to the table. Concerned about my well being too, I also found the health claims of these foods not to be credible. I decided that a 100% plant-based diet was consistent with my values and best for my health. I dropped the animal foods immediately and have never looked back.

Feeling more energetic, stronger, creative and happier than ever before, I wanted to learn more from the top experts in the food and health field. I read The China Study, watched Forks Over Knives and learned more about the teachings of doctors John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Neal Barnard. I wanted to combine my desire to cook plant-based food with the knowledge of what is a healthy diet ­– and to create a cuisine that is healthy, hearty, and flavorful.

Recently to further my passion for cooking and to hone in my skills and to get trained in the profession environment, I enrolled at the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI), New York City. NGI is one of the premier whole-food plant-based supportive professional chef training school in the world. I learned to incorporate different cooking techniques, traditional and modern, using the vast gamut of whole-food plant-based ingredients available to us, creating dishes with flavors and nuances from different ethnic traditions from around the world.

Today I’m making food with the care and precision that I learned from the lady cooks of my family. I’ve incorporated the range of cuisines I was exposed to in my childhood, through my travels, and at the school. And I’m using the whole-food, plant based ingredients that bring better health to people and support a more sustainable and peaceful environment.

Thanks so much for visiting my website!

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