Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Compassionate Cuisine — #myEsalen

Abi Collomb defies those chef stereotypes. She’s kind, doesn’t yell, and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt — flashing her bright smile, her blue eyes crinkling with playful mischief. There is no Zen-like personality like Abi’s on Hulu’s The Bear. This chef is an industrious, self-aware work-in-progress who found herself craving a career that would pair well with her healing journey.

First cutting her teeth and sharpening her knives at sea as a personal chef aboard mega yachts in the Caribbean, Chef Abi learned how to navigate both in-season abundance and scarcity. Over the last two years, when many of us were rethinking how we want to spend our professional and personal time, she began searching more intentionally for a meaningful change, seeking land near water where she could cultivate wholesome, nourishing food for an expansive and mindful community. Chef Abi tried it all — from feeding relief workers and those struck by natural disasters with World Central Kitchen to creatively satiating clients’ global demands despite supply chain challenges and a personal ethos to use local resources to minimize environmental impact.

“When you think you’re doing everything in your life the way you’re supposed to, you make your plans and follow through, but then everything stops … I had literally been floating from place to place. I knew I needed to find a place to continue growing my career, do my spiritual work, and live full-time with my dog, Chili.”

Though she was already aware of the institute (“Esalen has been on my radar for about ten years,” she says), Chef Abi hadn’t considered cooking here until another chef raved about her time in the kitchen. “I met this wonderful chef named Junie, who served the best vegan food I had ever had in my life. She worked at Esalen years ago as the sous chef and shared it was the most difficult yet rewarding experience she’d ever had.” 

Most difficult yet rewarding deeply resonated with Chef Abi. While scrolling through the calendar of workshop offerings and exploring the idea of doing a transitional work study, a life-shifting retreat of some kind, unexpected serendipity caught her by surprise. “I saw the sous chef position posted. Instead of booking a workshop, I applied for the job!”

Now that she’s here as the Chef de Cuisine at Esalen — with the kitchen and the Lodge as her office and culinary playground — Chef Abi has found her missing ingredients for personal and collective healing, transformation, and joy. “I was also going through a divorce when Esalen became an option for me. I felt as if the ocean was calling me back. Being able to see the ocean every day after working out at sea has really satisfied my soul. Being immersed in nature and surrounded by the ocean. Everything is different now. Personally, having the spaciousness to do inner personal work while you’re working is pretty awesome.” With that spaciousness, she’s committed to building “the next compassionate Esalen Kitchen era” with her free-spirited yet diligent work ethic. A yin and yang leadership that collaboratively fuels our minds and feeds our bellies and souls.

“Being able to fine-tune the systems has been a major growth edge as a chef. We are the life force of Esalen, serving 600 meals a day. All our meals are produced from scratch using whole, organic foods. We are continuously working on elevating and evolving the dining experience here.”

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Compassionate Cuisine — #myEsalen

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Abi Collomb defies those chef stereotypes. She’s kind, doesn’t yell, and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt — flashing her bright smile, her blue eyes crinkling with playful mischief. There is no Zen-like personality like Abi’s on Hulu’s The Bear. This chef is an industrious, self-aware work-in-progress who found herself craving a career that would pair well with her healing journey.

First cutting her teeth and sharpening her knives at sea as a personal chef aboard mega yachts in the Caribbean, Chef Abi learned how to navigate both in-season abundance and scarcity. Over the last two years, when many of us were rethinking how we want to spend our professional and personal time, she began searching more intentionally for a meaningful change, seeking land near water where she could cultivate wholesome, nourishing food for an expansive and mindful community. Chef Abi tried it all — from feeding relief workers and those struck by natural disasters with World Central Kitchen to creatively satiating clients’ global demands despite supply chain challenges and a personal ethos to use local resources to minimize environmental impact.

“When you think you’re doing everything in your life the way you’re supposed to, you make your plans and follow through, but then everything stops … I had literally been floating from place to place. I knew I needed to find a place to continue growing my career, do my spiritual work, and live full-time with my dog, Chili.”

Though she was already aware of the institute (“Esalen has been on my radar for about ten years,” she says), Chef Abi hadn’t considered cooking here until another chef raved about her time in the kitchen. “I met this wonderful chef named Junie, who served the best vegan food I had ever had in my life. She worked at Esalen years ago as the sous chef and shared it was the most difficult yet rewarding experience she’d ever had.” 

Most difficult yet rewarding deeply resonated with Chef Abi. While scrolling through the calendar of workshop offerings and exploring the idea of doing a transitional work study, a life-shifting retreat of some kind, unexpected serendipity caught her by surprise. “I saw the sous chef position posted. Instead of booking a workshop, I applied for the job!”

Now that she’s here as the Chef de Cuisine at Esalen — with the kitchen and the Lodge as her office and culinary playground — Chef Abi has found her missing ingredients for personal and collective healing, transformation, and joy. “I was also going through a divorce when Esalen became an option for me. I felt as if the ocean was calling me back. Being able to see the ocean every day after working out at sea has really satisfied my soul. Being immersed in nature and surrounded by the ocean. Everything is different now. Personally, having the spaciousness to do inner personal work while you’re working is pretty awesome.” With that spaciousness, she’s committed to building “the next compassionate Esalen Kitchen era” with her free-spirited yet diligent work ethic. A yin and yang leadership that collaboratively fuels our minds and feeds our bellies and souls.

“Being able to fine-tune the systems has been a major growth edge as a chef. We are the life force of Esalen, serving 600 meals a day. All our meals are produced from scratch using whole, organic foods. We are continuously working on elevating and evolving the dining experience here.”

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Compassionate Cuisine — #myEsalen

While searching for a workshop, Chef Abi found a new job, a new home, and a new mission: to build “the next compassionate Esalen Kitchen era.”

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About

Esalen Team

Compassionate Cuisine — #myEsalen

About

Esalen Team

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