I believe food is the ultimate key to health, and prevention is the best kind of medicine.
By nourishing your body with a plant-rich, nutrient dense, whole foods diet, you’re well on your way to a happy, healthy life!
Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m José, a photographer, food stylist, dessert chef, health enthusiast and creator of Swoon Food – a site dedicated to inspiring healthy eating and living.
Like many people, my journey hasn’t been a straight forward one. I started my career as a medical research scientist and, despite realising it wasn’t me before I’d even finished studying, I thought it was too late to change (at the ripe old age of 18) and stubbornly persevered.
After completing my degree I wasn’t inspired about working in a medical lab, so I enrolled in a masters degree to become a forensic scientist. As I was looking into thesis subjects for the second year I discovered in order to be the forensic scientist, instead of a technician, I’d have to continue on to a PhD.
At that point I’d been at university for 5 years and decided another 3 wasn’t for me. I was desperate to start travelling and see the world so I spent a year working, saved up my money and jumped on a plane with my best friend.
We spent 3 months travelling Europe, staying in quaint little pensions and not so quaint hostels. We had our first taste of gelato and then made it our mission to find the best gelato in all of Italy (it was in Florence fyi). We discovered $2 casks of wine and the best way to drink it in the Spanish heat was a tinto de verano (red wine + soda water + ice). We discovered chestnut milk does NOT taste like normal milk, nor does it go well on cereal. We tasted one the best desserts ever in Rome (a syrupy walnut cake) and became Scandinavian chocolate connoisseurs. We also stopped at every beach along the way and got the best tans of our lives!
Eventually we came back to reality, and reluctantly left the warmth to settle in London. I worked in several locum positions until I was offered a position at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington researching a cure for diabetes. This should have been my dream role, yet I couldn’t help feeling I was missing something.
At every opportunity I’d make the most of London’s vibrant food scene. Be it trawling Borough markets on the weekends, trying out every quaint little middle eastern restaurant in the London Cheap Eats Guide, discovering the elusive Asian eateries and bars in Old street, or when my parents visited going to crazy expensive fine dining restaurants such as L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (my Dad still talks about that one to this day!). When I wasn’t eating out I’d be cooking up a storm in my tiny flat kitchen and taking my creations round to whoever was hosting drinks that weekend.
It wasn’t until I was taken to Miami on a work conference, however, that I had the epiphany I really was in the wrong career. One evening there was a large dinner function at a famous creole crab shack. I tried crab claws, corn bread and key lime pie for the first time, and just couldn’t get over how amazing all the food was. When I finally looked up from my plate, I couldn’t understand why everyone around me was still talking work, when all I wanted to talk about was the ridiculously good molten lava pudding my boss had passed on to me.
Not long after that fortuitous dinner, I left my research position to retrain as a chef at Leith’s School of Food & Wine in London, and later specialised in patisserie at Westminster Kingsway College. I worked in number of London kitchens including an artisan German cake kitchen, one of Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin starred establishments, and as a cake decorator in Belgravia. On my return to New Zealand I was the head pastry chef at Soul Bar & Bistro for 2 years until I left to pursue my own business.
I now consult on various culinary projects, including dessert menu and recipe creation, provide food styling and photographic work, and create all the content for Swoon Food.
why sugar free
After leaving my pastry chef role I realised I was a serious sugar addict. This was no doubt one of the main driving forces behind my love for all things sweet, as well as my bold career change. I knew it wasn’t healthy or sustainable long term, at least not without some serious consequences, which I was beginning to get an inkling of.
I decided it was time to get serious about my health so I put myself through a complete sugar detox. Almost immediately I saw my symptoms begin to diminish. Brain fog, dizziness, tingling in my fingers, migraines and digestive issues all started to clear up, and the positive changes continued to multiply the longer I went. All up I did 8 weeks completely sugar free, which meant no sugar, no carbs and no alcohol, and to be honest, I felt so amazing I didn’t want to stop! The only reason I did was because we went on our honeymoon and I couldn’t bare not to eat all the delicious Vietnamese food.
I was so inspired by how a simple diet change can impact your health in such a positive way and I wanted to share this knowledge with anyone and everyone. I’ve gone on to research this premise in depth and the more I learn the more I’m inspired. If the idea of cutting sugar speaks to you, then you can read more about doing a sugar cleanse here.
my other passions
When I’m not creating or photographing food you’ll likely find me in a raw food cafe, practicing yoga, or walking with my husband and our exuberant Alaskan malamute Chewbacca. We love to travel and share many of our foodie adventures on Instagram. If you’d like to connect with me you’ll also find me on Facebook & Pinterest.