Isabel Tonelli is happiest when in her kitchen cooking healthful food to nurture body and soul. She found her calling in designing and producing cleanses and healthful small-batch food. Her eponymous Isabel’s Kitchen in Pine Plains, N.Y. offers gourmet plant-based juices, tonics, granola, and meals, as well as kitchen and lifestyle products aimed at living healthfully and well. We're pleased to offer her Organic Granola on NewYorkMakers.com.
Earlier this month, New York Makers sat with Isabel at her cafe/shop's communal table to discuss how her path brought her from her home-country of Argentina to the heart of the Hudson Valley. Here are some highlights from that conversation:
New York Makers: How long have you lived in New York, and how did you come to have a house in/near Pine Plains?
Isabel Tonelli: Having spent some of my young adult years in the US, I moved from Buenos Aires, Argentina 18 years ago when I married my husband. We lived in Manhattan and had a farm in Stowe, Vermont. After having children, the commute became more challenging. After I visited friends in Millbrook — enjoying a delicious, simple home-cooked lunch under the shade of a massive maple tree while the children ran around barefoot — I completely fell in love with the area and the quality of life. We found an incredible piece of property with stunning views nearby in Pine Plains that brings my husband, me and our three daughters much joy. We take advantage of all the outdoor activities this area has to offer; it is so beautiful year round.
NYM: How/why did you become involved with cleanses?
IT: I believe in the healing power of food. In addition to a BS in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, I have a culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts where I studied food therapy with the school’s founder, Dr. Annemarie Colbin, including the relationship between food and health and the use of food as a healing tool for people fighting cancer, immune disorders, diabetes, inflammation and various other health conditions. I also became involved with Donna Karan’s Urban Zen workshops, working with Stefanie Sacks.
I understand the impact our food choices have on our health and their ability to heal and prevent disease. After meeting many people who were struggling with symptoms preventing them from living their lives to fullest potential, I decided to start offering my anti-inflammatory plant-based cleanses [available for purchase at Isabel's Kitchen]. In my cleanse instructions, I also include suggestions for complementary activities that connect mind and body, such as keeping a gratitude journal, practicing yoga, and enjoying a massage.
NYM: How did you come up with the idea for Isabel's Kitchen?
IT: I realized the need for a healthy option in the Pine Plains area. People who did the cleanse wanted to have access to healthful food not only when they were cleansing, but also on a weekly basis. After doing the cleanse they understood the connection and wanted to continue supporting their health with good food choices.
NYM: What has surprised you most about your adventure with Isabel's Kitchen?
IT: How our cleanse is beneficial to people across the board from polo players and teenagers to octogenarians. I have incredible testimonials from people who could tell the difference in how they felt in just three days of a “clean” diet.
NYM: What is your favorite New York State destination?
IT: My house in Pine Plains. It makes me so happy to be there. I love my kitchen, my vegetable garden, my animals, the view and, most importantly, the memories that are created with family and friends. It is such a happy place for us. Our children say when they grow up, they want to come there with their children.
NYM: What is your favorite New York State activity?
IT: Pretty much anything outdoors: hiking, skiing, paddle boarding, kayaking, cycling, tennis, squash, horseback riding ... I love the endless choices available.
NYM: In one word, what is your New York State of Mind?