I am finally publishing a new interview here on the blog which is also entirely in English. Hopefully there won’t be a language barrier for my Swedish readers.
Crystal is the founder of the Raw Dessert Chef Certification Course
For the past year, I have been attending a Raw Dessert Chef Certification Course by Crystal Bonnet. It has been really educational, exciting and given me so much inspiration. I could never believe that online course would suit me so well, but every week has been a new adventure with creative tasks and submission of work.
I felt that I wanted to introduce Crystal for my followers and dared to defy my limited English by doing an interview entirely in English.
The time before you became an international raw dessert chef
What did you do before your culinary journey started?
I jumped around careers quite a bit when I was young and then ended up working in offices in the administrative industry for about 12 years. In between there I decided to quit my job and go to hair school as I always knew I was meant to do something creative. I worked as a hairstylist for about a year and then went back to the administrative field. When I discovered the healing benefits of eating a high-raw diet I found a creative side of me I never knew I had. I fell in love with making raw food and how it made me feel, I truly discovered my passion and wanted to tell the world.
I discovered a 21-day raw food cleanse online
What drew you in to raw food?
First it was for health reasons. I was getting sick constantly and not feeling well so I started looking for ways to feel better. I discovered a 21-day raw food cleanse online and knew at that point it was what my body needed. I was not eating many fruits and vegetables, although I thought I was eating healthy I was not getting the micronutrients my body needed to function at an optimal level. I ate a lot of processed food at work as I never had any training in the kitchen or really knew how to cook. When I started making all this raw food, I fell in love with the flavors, colors and it made me feel alive. I never liked cooking and still don’t but I love making raw food. There’s so much more creativity with raw and it’s more of a challenge to create these textures you normally would get in a baked or cooked satiated meal.
She is an excellent Raw dessert chef who now teaches her skills to others
What made you start a certified raw dessert course?
When I discovered raw food I was really drawn to raw chocolate and sweets. It’s funny because I never had a sweet tooth before I started eating raw chocolate and desserts. I think again it was because you are able to create so many different flavors, colors and textures, it was so much fun. I started making chocolate and desserts for farmer’s markets and taking online education to perfect my skills. I started thinking about doing an online course back in 2017 when I met a friend who had a raw chocolate course online in Russian and she wanted me to create one for her. At that time, I was just not ready and I felt my skills were not at a level I wanted to share yet with the world. So, I kept training and developing my skills and in 2019 an opportunity came up as I had the time and funds to create an online course. At that point I had a lot of teaching experience and really wanted to reach a wider audience. I realized it wasn’t going to be sustainable long-term to travel all the time for teaching so I made the decision and it led me here today. I have been blessed to meet wonderful people all around the world such as yourself!
Why was it important that the course was certified. What difference does it make for us students?
This is a great question and I’m so happy you asked! I struggled for a while to determine how I wanted to deliver this course and what would be the right thing to do. As I’ve taken most of my culinary training online, I had a lot of experience with online courses and knew what I liked and didn’t like about each one. I felt there were already so many recipe video courses I wanted to do something different. Also, when I took courses online if there was a certificate involved or an end goal, I was much more keen to complete the whole course. Especially if I knew someone was going to be critiquing or viewing my work. I also really wanted to be involved with the students and had to figure out a way to do that so everyone would feel supported. I know many people struggle with starting or completing online courses because of lack of support from the instructor. Although it adds much more work for me, I based my decision on the student experience and I’m so happy I did!
Your culinary raw dessert course grew a lot during the pandemic. Were you ever afraid the pandemic would impact your business negatively?
Another great question, thank you for asking. Yes of course, it was really scary at the beginning. Especially because literally 2 days after I invested a lot of money filming new content for the program the whole world shut down. Thankfully we knew my husband was going to still be working but there was a lot of uncertainty for my business. My first instinct was to do something that would bring more joy during this time so I scheduled a bunch of free Facebook lives and really focused on providing as much content as I could to keep people busy at home. And what a great opportunity to educate more people on healthy, living raw plant-based food because people were online 70% more than before the pandemic. I had no idea my business would flourish and grow that much during the pandemic but I’m so grateful it did and I’m able to reach more people on a global scale.
You have students all over the world, was that your expectations when you made the online course?
When I first launched, I thought I would be reaching primarily students in North America. I’m still shocked every day when I have a student enroll from a country across the other side of the world. I was worried about students sourcing ingredients in these areas but ingredients are much more readily available around the world now and it’s so neat to see. Also, there are lots of substitutions and workarounds if something is not available. I was just helping out a student with ingredients in Turkey. We even have students in Morocco, Brazil, Columbia, Croatia, India, Norway, and many in Mexico! It just means this way of eating and using healthier plant-based alternatives in cooking is gaining so much more popularity all around the world.
What do you think the future holds regarding raw food? Is there a possibility it will be more available in grocery stores and bakeries?
Yes, I think it will be much more readily available in grocery stores and food establishments just by seeing how many people are interested in this style of “cooking” and so many of the students wanting to offer commercial food products in their communities. I noticed the raw food trend seems to go in and out of popularity and I see a lot of popularity gaining with it again. Although the ingredients are more expensive, people are really ready to invest in their health especially after 2020.
What is the next step for “Crystal Dawn Culinary”?
Well, I have much on the go and am working on two major projects which I cannot share the details on yet. I wish I could as they are both really exciting! I’ve been really blessed with the positive response since launching in August 2019 and I’m experiencing so much growth. It’s also really important for me to focus on work/life balance which I really struggle with since this business is my passion. It’s really hard for me to step away. As an entrepreneur I’m learning and growing everyday and only see positive things for the future.
What do you do in your spare time? Do you have other hobbies?
Honestly, there has not been much spare time in the last year, but when I do, I love playing piano. I have been playing on and off since I was a child and I really love music. I also love nature and the outdoors so, any opportunity I can get to go for a hike with my dog I’ll take it. I am blessed to live in a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and forests. There are many places I can go hiking that are only a short drive away.
Do you strictly eat raw food? Or do you also include cooked plant-based food. What do you eat regularly?
I do not eat 100% raw all the time. It all depends on the season; in summer I eat a lot more raw foods and, in the winter, I eat about 80% raw. I love steamed sweet potatoes and lentil pasta in winter; I really gravitate towards comfort foods. I’m making a big batch of vegetable soup today. But I always eat 100% plant-based. It’s really important to listen to your body and eat the best way for you. A lot of people flourish on a 100% raw diet and use it to heal a lot of illness and disease.
Lastly, what goals do you have for 2021?
My main goal right now is bringing on someone to help me in my business so I have more time to work on other projects including these two I wish I could speak of. Also, learning to take time for myself and take a break when I need to. And, of course focusing on my course and all the lovely students. Honestly, everyday I feel so lucky to have so many amazing people in the online program. You are all what keep me going and showing up every day.
Thank you, Tina, for this lovely interview, I really enjoyed it!
Thank you so much Crystal for taking your time to answer my questions. I’m really looking forward to your upcoming projects.