BRIDGET’S HEALTHY KITCHEN
Chef, Nutritionist, Author, Health and Wellness Mentor, TV Personality, Brand Ambassador
Bridget Foliaki-Davis was just 14 when she dropped out of school to work as a waitress which eventually led to a culinary qualification. She graduated at the top of her class.
She’s had 30 + years of experience working in professional kitchens in Australia and New Zealand. She was Head Chef for Bill Granger and Executive Chef at one of New Zealand’s largest event companies. She is a writer, a speaker, accredited nutritionist, and television chef for SBS food and The Café. She’s a TEDx speaker and has written six award-winning cookbooks. She has cooked for Oprah and for New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
Bridget Foliaki-Davis has cooking credentials galore. She was a fully qualified chef by the time she was 20 and became the first President of New Zealand’s Training Chef’s Association. She worked her way up the food chain, so to speak, in many small restaurants throughout New Zealand including cafes, a coffee roasting boutique, and on chartered yachts around the Auckland harbour.
The first business she owned was a kitchen in a sports club in Sydney, Australia. She was just 22. By age 23 she had two separate businesses and kitchens operating on opposite ends of Sydney. By 32, years of hard work and taken their toll. She needed a vacation and a change of scenery. She and her husband took their first holiday together, an 8-week hiatus from work travelling around the world, where they learned how to appreciate life away from the kitchen.
In March 2008, she was offered a job working as Head Chef for Bill Granger at Bills’ Restaurant in Darlinghurst. It was back to Sydney, where the couple and their three children have lived ever since. She’s gone on to make a name for herself as a VIP chef for Google, a brand ambassador, cruise ship lecturer, keynote speaker and cookbook author.
She no longer works in commercial kitchens, but what ignites her passion these days is helping mentor the 300,000+ followers she has on social media with her bespoke gut-healthy recipes and ideas for healthier living – along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle herself.
It wasn’t an easy path.
She had struggled with her weight all her life. Being a chef did not make it easy to eat healthy food, delicious daily temptations constantly surrounded her. Back then, she didn’t care about the nutritional value of the food she was cooking, as long as it tasted good. When her weight ballooned to 94 kilos and her dress size went up to a 22, she decided she had to do something about it.
She had suffered a devastating miscarriage and her weight had spiralled out of control as she turned to food and alcohol to deaden the pain. It was a vicious cycle of binge-eating all the wrong foods, vomiting and over-eating again, washing unhealthy foods down with a half-bottle of vodka. She had hit rock bottom, losing all self-esteem and confidence in herself.
It had to change.
The turning point was an email inviting her to appear on a TV show. She was horrified! How could she possibly be seen on TV looking the way she did? She had five weeks to get in shape and was determined to lose the weight and regain control of her life. In researching healthy diets she discovered the concept of gut healthy eating. It involved completely changing her diet, and giving up processed foods, sugar, dairy and gluten.
Within five months she had dropped to a size 8 and shed a miraculous 35 kilos.
She looks back at old photographs and feels sorry for her old self. “I don’t recognise the old me. She was so sad. I can see it in the pictures. She was shy, trying to hide behind baggy clothes and layers. She had no confidence.
“I am the exact opposite of her now. It’s almost like we were two different people. I have a new lease on life and so much confidence. I have fallen back in love with life.”
She has now added exercise to her healthy living routine – something she never did before. She walks, does yoga, paddle boarding and lifts weights. She also practices intermittent fasting, in which she eats within a 7-8-hour window during the day and fasts the rest of the time.
There is no longer any junk or processed food in her house, – where treats and temptations are now the healthy creations that she makes herself.
What are her words of advice for those looking to shed unwanted weight and live a healthier lifestyle, as she did?
“My advice is to take one small step at a time. I started by making my next meal a healthy one. That’s all I focused on. I didn’t focus at all on the weight I wanted to lose. I just focused on making my next meal a healthy one. After the first meal, I focused on the next meal and then the next one.
“Rather than overwhelming myself with what seemed like an enormous task at the time, I just focused on taking one small step forward to who I wanted to become – a happier, healthier, more slender me.
“The only thing I would do differently is starting earlier. I cannot describe in words how different and more fulfilling my life and my relationships have become.”
Her recipes are delicious. Her advice and mentorship have been nothing short of life-changing for hundreds of thousands of her followers.
One step at a time.