Podcast – Interview with Heather Ciprani

In this 20th episode, Ute speaks with Heather Ciprani who left the corporate world to pursue a degree in nutrition. She also offers services as a private chef and cooks dinners for wineries for special events. Listen as they discuss Heather’s journey from a corporate employee to entrepreneur, how to pair certain wines with food, and they even touch on health, wellness, and skincare.

Heather Ciprani Coaching and Private Events
Flower and Bone Skincare

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Full episode transcript:

Ute: Welcome to the Thru The Grapewine Podcast today with your host, Ute Mitchell. My guest today is Heather Ciprani, private chef, herbalist, nutritionist, and wine lover. I am very excited about our conversation and I hope you will enjoy it too. 

Before we get going, a quick reminder that on the Thru The Grapewine Podcast, we do not make any nutritional recommendations. We are not medical professionals and all opinions expressed are strictly informational. 

With that, enjoy the show. All right, well welcome Heather to the show. Thank you so much for being here. 

Heather Ciprani: It is such an honor to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Ute: Oh, it’s gonna be so great. I just have been really, really enjoying these interviews.

They’ve been amazing and, and so many women saying such inspirational things, so I’m so excited for this. 

Heather Ciprani: Absolutely. Me too. 

Ute: So tell us about yourself, Heather, you know, who are you? Where are you from? Have you always lived in Oregon? Kind of give us a little story of your life, I guess. 

Heather Ciprani: Sure. I’m like, I’ll try to keep it short.

I’m like, I’ve been around and I’ve done a lot of things and lived kind of all over the world. So I’m originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania, which is. This really cute suburb outside of Philadelphia and my entire family lives there. 

Ute: Alright. 

Heather Ciprani: Still, I’m the only one who has left and it’s like horse country, rolling hills. It’s beautiful. I, I, you know, I grew up being outside most of the time. It was like, don’t come back in until it’s dark. And, but since then, It’s kind of become the suburban sprawl. And so, so much of my like outdoor places and adventure spots were pretty much gone. And so after college I left and pursued, you know, and my undergrad was in fine arts and so I decided to go work for companies in corporate gigs, you know, from New York to Vermont to Southern California.

And they eventually landed me in Portland about 10 years ago now. And so, you know, I kind of did that grind for a while. I got to travel the world, you know, and really figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. And I realized like, this is not my life. And I kept, you know, dreaming about like, when I grow up I’m gonna be something [inaudible]! You know, I’m gonna take what I learned, you know. I learned a lot, but I was fortunate to get outta that gig in 2014 and really have been pursuing the entrepreneurial life since then.

It’s terrifying, but, you know, it’s about a year of nightmares, I guess. 

Ute: Yes. It is terrifying. 

Heather Ciprani: It totally…

Ute: I can sing a song about that. 

Heather Ciprani: You kinda go, oh crap, and you up sweating, you know, and I presenting my, you know, used to be in product creation, so I did apparel and bags, and running businesses for big companies from creation to concept, and so I would just wake up in sweats being in a conference room , and like, oh my God, I forgot my presentation. You know? 

Ute: Right. I definitely hear you there. I mean, regardless of what I’ve done, if I was in a job, then I, you know, would have nightmares about not doing my job right. Or, you know, something wouldn’t work or whatever, and I could never get it to work and my bosses would be pissed off at me, or as I’m doing this thing here on my own, running this business and recording podcast episodes, and we’re working on an online course, like you know, this Wine 101 type course, and I’m going, “who am I to, to teach people this?” You know, “who, who wants to hear what I have to say?” And I have years of experience, who would not wanna hear what I have to say? Right? That’s, that’s, any man would say that. 

Heather Ciprani: Right? I know. You love those little voices. It’s like, and it’s hard. It’s like you switch gears to being an entrepreneur and you’re like, okay, the hustle is real and I’m gonna do everything I can, you know? I’m such a determined person. It’s like, I love, I see something, I want it, I go after it. But you know, being an entrepreneur, it’s like you really have to keep that alive in yourself. And that determinism and that trust and the courage. So, you know, that’s kind of been my new journey is like having that ability.

And also it’s like my, in my rear view is, I’m never gonna go back to working for somebody else. Like I just can’t, you know, that’s what keeps me going. And so, yeah, so my partner and I, he got a job in wine. He’d always been wanting to get a job in wine, and so we’ve been together for eight years and so he got an offer.

And so 2019 was his first harvest. And so we’ve been back ever since. I didn’t think we were, we had been looking in southern Oregon. We love it down there too. And I’d stayed in the Pacific Northwest pretty much since then, but we landed here in the Willamette and we just, it’s so amazing and we just brought a little one into this world this summer, so 

Ute: congratulations.

Heather Ciprani: Yeah, thank you. He’s our first little Pacific Northwest native now. So… 

Ute: Right! So I know that you are a holistic herbalist and nutritionist, and we will definitely go into that a little bit. But what I want to focus on is that you also are a private chef. And I am very intrigued. I would really love to know how you got, you know, into the nutrition thing and then let that private chef thing flow into your life.

I need to know! 

Heather Ciprani: I mean, so from, I mean, I’m Italian. My background is Italian, and I mean like I’m 97% European. So, from such a young age, I was food obsessed. You know, my family, dad’s and mom’s age, our life was in the kitchen. And so my dad’s family is like from the boat, Italy. So everything about that life was just homemade dishes.

We sat in the kitchen that was, you know, who used the living room? Like never. It was just, we always sat in the kitchen, always making something from scratch. And then my mom’s family was definitely really different. They were from the south. But my grandfather loved to host parties and so where he, you know, he was a really stern guy, but you got him in the kitchen… he was a totally different guy! 

And so he was outgoing and he, you know, but at both families really, we talked about food and it was so hard not to be involved. You know, I would forage from the time I could walk, we would forage dandelions in the spring. And so as I kind of got older, you know, I was traveling for work, I would travel the world and I would always bring back recipes to try. And I loved hosting parties. I’m such an extrovert and I always loved to see how many people I could cook for. And so I’m always the one, I mean, ask any of my friends. It’s like I’m always the one that makes the dinner. I’m always the one that like plans these elaborate meals. 

And so that was never a far stretch for me and my last year in corporate when I was like, okay, this is just not, this is not doing it for me, it became clear that I really wanted to go get my education in nutrition.

So in 2016, I pursued my master’s and it took me five years because my undergrad is not in biology. That was hard. And so I, it really ended up dovetailing nicely. You know, all the things, all the things we learn about that’s wrong about eating in the world. There’s so much misinformation and I wanted to find out what was going on and why were things as a woman. You know, it’s like all the things you learn, you’re like, I’m trying to be healthy, but why isn’t my body not cooperating?

And so it really allowed me to explore that: how do you make things taste really good, but also be really good for you? Has really been at the crux of… I think the nice point, you know, I, I coach, I coach one-on-one people, and I, you know, my secondary thing is like, but I cook, you know, I’m a, I’m a pri you know, I’m a chef and so deep.

I actually wrote a business plan a long time ago where it’s like, I really wanna do retreats and you know, it’s like I wanna take my clients and be like, you know what, just let me cook for you for a week and let me show you how good you can feel. But… 

Ute: Alright, I’m coming! 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. You know, I’m not a coach who’s like, oh, you know, you can’t have this and you can’t have this and you can’t have.

That’s just not logical. It’s not sustainable. And to me, food should be decadent. It should be delicious. You should want to crave it. You should make that meal as beautiful as possible. And I really think mainstream is coming around. You know, especially with saturated fats. I’m like, okay, they’re fine.

They’re amazing for you. And they make life worth living. I’m sorry, but like, give me butter any day. And you know, there was nothing wrong with it, you know, and so I really try to encourage my clients to, to, and to, you know, let them trust me that it’s like I’m gonna give you meals that you’re gonna droo over.

And I love surprising people with, you know, it’s like I’ll make up meatballs and I’m like, you just ate liver. And I just turned that into a super food! 

My favorite thing is to really twist people’s kind of nod and change that idea of what healthy food really is. And to me it’s like the beautiful kind of like dovetail into being a private chef and doing nutrition, is to really bend those boundaries.

Ute: All right. I love it. I love it. I feel like we have a lot to talk about!

So in your introduction to me, you actually wrote to me that you offer your services to wineries in the Willamette Valley. So can you tell me what this looks like? What do you do? What’s that? What does that entail, I guess? 

Heather Ciprani: Absolutely. So it started out, I actually have been cooking for the, very fortunate, we live on the Nicolas-Jay Estate.

We rent the house and so my partner works harvest. We care take, and so I cook kind of I’ll, I’ll cook a few meals for them depending on the year. And then I usually cook wine harvest, which is so fun! And so I really started branching out this year to offer it to more wineries. It’s like, why just stop with one, you know, why not offer my services?

And so it’s everything from family style meal. It could be, I mean, my, you know, my sweet spot is cooking from anywhere to 20 to 40 people. But I just did an event a couple weeks ago where it was just, you know, the food was put out and there was about 50, we were expecting up to 70 people. And so I did three dishes, and we all paired back with a wine and it was just a nibbles kind of party. 

And then we’re also doing the Oregon Truffle Festival, so I’m gonna be at the Dundee Hotel and we’re doing six bites to pair back with wine. So, you know what’s really…I love cooking different things. I don’t have set menus.

I love cooking with some seasons, so I’m really open to all sorts of different ideas of how that may look for people. 

Ute: And I mean, working with the Dundee, I actually interviewed Jenna. 

Heather Ciprani: Yes, I heard!

Ute: From The Dundee. 

Heather Ciprani: I can’t wait to hear that. 

Ute: I’m so excited about releasing all of these episodes and, and what a great problem for me to have, you know, to be booked out for weeks.

So that’s, that’s really wonderful. But yeah, I know that she’s really, really excited about doing stuff like this. And really kinda branching out and thinking outside the box. 

Heather Ciprani: Yes, absolutely. 

Ute: What’s possible? So this does make me curious though. So Ali and I we’re actually looking to offer private tastings at some point this year, and, and we’re having to like figure out a bunch of, you know, legal stuff to see if that’s even a thing that we can do.

So, but basically if that was a thing we could basically do like a whole meal. And we’re talking about the wine and you’re talking about the food, and we could have like this whole big event. 

Heather Ciprani: Hundred percent. A hundred percent. Yeah. That’s my, I mean, I, I love doing things like that. Absolutely. And I’m actually offering that with a couple different, like, Lifestyle Properties, with Porch Light stays. With Porch Light stays, we’re actually putting out like a wine and wellness package where you could rent an Airbnb between four to 10 of your friends. 

Ute: Okay. 

Heather Ciprani: And you would have me as a private chef and I would also be able to bring the wine. And then you’d have your own yoga instructor as well for the weekend. So… 

Ute: We definitely have to talk!

Heather Ciprani: Yes, absolutely. So I could come out, and I’m a chef too, that, you know, I’m not classically trained. I love people in the kitchen. I love showing people what I’m doing. I love talking about it. Beacuase that’s really to me, that’s why I love cooking is to show people how it can just open up your mind and your taste buds, and I love getting people excited about, about food. 

Ute: Well, I’m definitely putting your info down in the show notes. Of course, . But, let’s talk about pairing wine and food. So getting a little bit more in depth there.

Give us a general rundown, if you would, of popular pairings. Something like, you know, Pinot Noir, of course, since we’re in Oregon, what are some things that you have paired with Pinot Noir? 

Heather Ciprani: Hmm. Oh man. I’m like, I feel like, what haven’t I paired with Pinot Noir? 

Ute: Yeah. 

Heather Ciprani: And that’s been the fun thing. Especially during harvest.

This year I was really fortunate to cook every other night and we had a big group. We had our French winemaker out and his son and you know, it was anywhere from like 12 to 18 people I was cooking for . And I really wanted to push the envelope, you know, more traditionally, I mean, I’m Mediterranean, so cooking, I love, you know, French country.

You know, more Italian dishes feel like home to me from lamb chops. I’ve done chicken confit, which is just amazing. I like, why won’t you confit everything cuz it’s so good. And then this year we also did a really fun pairing. I made a Moroccan lamb tajin with apricots and I served it with pearl couscous, some peas. Like a mint pea with a little bit of like cream sauce with a radicchio, olive, and Parmesan salad. And so everything kind of went into this beautiful bowl. I love letting people, especially at harvest, just kind of build their own. I put everything on the big long counter and we ended up tasting it with a Nicolas-Jay Hyland in 2019.

We also paired that back with Hyland’s 2019 as well as a Soter. And so they all used Hyland grapes. They were, I believe they were all 2019s. And so it was so fun cuz we had this like beautiful kind of pairing to taste the different ways that the winemakers kind of bring out the same grapes.

And we went, I mean each one, it was beautiful. My stepfather, actually my parents were out cause we had my son. And he’s not a wine drinker, or at least he didn’t think he was a wine drinker. He stuck to beer. And this season just blew the doors off and we were able to taste the nuances, you know, and like the best and the spiciness, you know, the Moroccan dishes typically have like the cinnamon notes, and I think they, it’s not overpowering with the spice, but it’s just enough I think for like a beautiful complex Pinot Noir. And the apricots, it’s got a hint of sweetness. And so that dish was so fun. And I’ve done a lot of actually like from a lot of Asian inspired Vietnamese, Thai. I love soups, but I love to really push the envelope in terms of flavors. 

Ute: And I think Pinot Noir is such a versatile wine that you can pair with so many different types of foods and especially because, you know, winemakers of course will use different techniques on making a Pinot and one might be much lighter than another.

And so there’s really no set rule what you can pair a Pinot noir with. 

Heather Ciprani: Right. Exactly. 

Ute: I feel like we’re a little bit more limited when it comes to something like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, but what’s your opinion on that private chef lady? 

Heather Ciprani: You know, I, I haven’t done this much. I do love a Pinot Gris and we actually, my partner and I, a few years back, this was we decided for fun to put on like a wine and beer pairing party.

And so we did it for 25 people. One of my favorite dishes that we made was from, I’m obsessed with Josh McFadden. He owns Ava Gene’s in Portland, and he’s just, I mean, he’s been an obsession of mine for a very long time. His flavors, they’re simple, they’re beautiful, they’re really, they’ve got a lot of complexity to them.

So we did this, it was a pan roasted carrot with carrot top salsa verde and avocado and seared squid. So it sounds really complex, but it’s probably got like seven ingredients in it. It had hints of pepperoncini, lemon zest, and pistachios. It was so bright and fresh, and so we actually paired that back with a Pinot Gris and this hoppy pilsner, and it was just, you just keep, you wanted more and more.

Like I only served these small bites, but it was just so beautiful and every bite you kind of had a different flavor. And so, I really like using, you know, having that simplicity and ingredients, but the crunch and a little hint of like, you know, the pepper or the spice and a little bit, you know, that lemon zest.

It just, to me that’s kind of the fun in what you can bring out in wines is like miss some of that. 

Ute: Oh my gosh. I don’t know about your listeners out there, but I have not had lunch as we are recording this. It’s almost 12:30 here. I haven’t had lunch yet and my stomach actually started growling . I’m very worried about any kind of background noise, and I’ve told you before we started the recording, I told Heather that literally at this time, the street cleaner came driving past the house. Across the street, there’s a landscaper who’s usually using the leaf blower. My son just came in, he’s testing some electric guitars that my husband has, and I’m like, “really? All of that at noon when I’m trying to record” and now here’s my stomach growling and I’m going, “oh my gosh, is anybody gonna be able to hear that?”

Heather Ciprani: I’m like, we needed to do this in person with some, with a nice meal! 

Ute: Yes. You had me a meal. I am definitely someone who really, really appreciates food and I think I got lucky growing up with a family where my mom was really into cooking and trying all kinds of new things. That also meant that she tried some things that I could not at all approve of.

But you know, she tried, you know, she right, she actually, there was a time when she, and I’m not poo-pooing tofu for anybody who loves their tofu, but it’s just not for me. And so my mom made this recipe that everyone in my family loves and I still cook it to this day and everyone in my family loves it. And my mom made this once with tofu , and I was crushed!

She was like, you know, I was like, “oh my gosh, what if she’s never gonna make it with meat again? I’m gonna be so sad.” Cause the tofu was kind of squishy. 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. 

Ute: And it didn’t, I mean, I know it doesn’t have much of a flavor, but it just didn’t taste right and I was 10 years old and I was not happy. 

Heather Ciprani: It’s not working.

Ute: And who knows, maybe tofu has come a long way and I just don’t know. But you know, back then it just was not good. 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. It’s like brussel sprouts, right? You grow up eating it where people boiled it and now you roast it, and that’s like a game changer and… 

Ute: Oh, see, but I always love Brussels sprouts. 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah, yeah. Oh, I didn’t, I definitely didn’t. Not when they were boiled. I was like, “get that outta my face!” 

Ute: Yeah, yeah, for sure. But yeah, roasting it and maybe with a little bit of bacon. Oh my God. Of course bacon makes everything better. 

Heather Ciprani: It does, it does. . . 

Ute: So when we talked, so another one that I really like is Cabernet Sauvignon.

And yes, I’m just that boring person and I don’t, I mean, I, I love so many different wines, but you know, my, my ones that I gravitate towards are, you know, going to be a Pinot Noir. It’s gonna be a Cabernet Sauvignon. I really like Malbec and Tempranillo. What about a great pairing for, you know, a Cab and Malbec maybe?

Heather Ciprani: Yeah, I mean, you know, I don’t, they’re not so much my language right now, only because we don’t live in a region that produces them, and I really… 

Ute: So true. 

Heather Ciprani: …try to eat from the land that surrounds us, you know? And that’s typically a great theme for wines that you’re growing. It’s, you know, that’s really where the beautifulness of the dish is gonna come through.

However, I mean, it’s, it’s been in my wheelhouse for a while though, but it just screams bone marrow. I love roasted bone marrow. I, it’s basically collagen. It’s a super food. So I made it for the harvest crew this year cuz it is just so amazing and I think you really need you know, something with a lot of fat because those wines just have so much to them.

I know for me, I’m, you know, I’m not gonna drink a glass of it unless I have some food in front of me, some cheese, something to really anchor the, the heaviness of that wine. 

Ute: Sure. 

Heather Ciprani: But [inaudible] also really bring it out and be really beautiful. I also love a really good bisque. I mean, soups are something that I’m always going to put on any menu, especially if I’m doing courses.

Ute: Yeah. 

Heather Ciprani: One because I can do so many amazing herbs and turn them into these like beautiful deep immune tonics. But cause there’s so much beauty in a soup and I think a beautiful mushroom bisque can be divine. I also, we actually had it for harvest this year. I did a meatloaf recipe, so I kind of tweak this meatloaf recipe.

I, it’s from San Francisco when I live there and it ha, I put in lamb, I did chorizo, I did plain ground pork, I did beef, and then I obviously do beef liver in there as well. I like to sneak that in. And I make a mirepoix with, it’s sauteed in butter and that’s what I add to the meat. And I put a little tomato paste and a lot of herbs and it makes it really juicy that sauteed in butter, right?

You kind of get all the fat in there. And so I served it of course with like mashed potatoes and gravy because you need gravy. And [inaudible] the brussel sprouts. And we were super fortunate our owner, Jay had blessed us with this like 1980 Napa Cab cuz we opened up, you know, we like to open up a few different bottles and we tried them all and we tried them all with the food and we feasted and that pairing was absolutely amazing.

I mean, I think that bottle went in like minutes! You know, everyone was like, yeah, we gotta try that with this. And so it was really, really beautiful, really delicious. Kind of classic, but you know, I mean there is, there’s something really classic about just having like, it’s kinda that comfort food, you know, with that.

Ute: Oh gosh! It’s so funny because, I mean, literally in the summer, you know, don’t bother me with soup, but I am, as soon as the rain comes I’m like, all right, put on the sweat. Cook the soups, cook the stews, you know, make a goulash or something like that and bring on the heavy wines. 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. A hundred percent.

Yeah. It’s like I can’t drink a Cab in the summer, you know? It’s like I need a fire. I need a fire pit. Yes, absolutely. 

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Ute: That sounds amazing. Of course, it’s raining right now, so what am I talking about? 

Heather Ciprani: Of course, dinner tonight. That sounds great! 

Ute: Yes, exactly! So do you have an absolute favorite wine?

Heather Ciprani: Hmm. Gosh. I mean, no, it changes by the season, right? The day and then time and the night, you know, the day the time.

I’m like, what am I in the mood for? I mean, I do love bubbles, but you know, I do. And your taste buds change so much, however. 

Ute: Well, true. Yes. 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. I will say that there is this bottle of wine that I was over in Germany. I was for, I was over there for a trade show in the town of Friedrichshafen and I went to this amazing little wine shop and I wanted, typically when I would always travel, I’d always bring back, you know, wine. Like I Switzerland, you know, we went and had Pinot Noirs and you know, I would travel to South Africa and so.

I was always able to bring back a little something. So I was over there and this woman only spoke German and she introduced me to the Spatburgunder grape, which is really similar to Pinot Noir. And I hadn’t really ever had, outside of Switzerland, I hadn’t really ever had any US Pinot Noir before. But she was super specific and I was fortunate to have you know, my colleague there who lived in an, not very far from that town, so he was kind of translating for me and she was like, “when you open this bottle, you decant it for exactly 45 minutes. Not before. You don’t drink it a minute before.” She’s like, “you can drink it after, but it’s 45 minutes.” And so I was like, “okay, okay!”

And at the time I was, I was living in Laguna Beach and so I’d love to picnic. There’s an amazing resort there that you can picnic and you can bring wine. And so I had made this homemade pasta ravioli, made this beautiful picnic. I decanted the wine. So the sun was setting and we were drinking this Spatburgunder that, I mean, she was so right on the money. That, I mean, after it decanted it. I mean the taste, I still dream about that wine. It was so divine.

Ute: There’s actually a… 

Heather Ciprani: yeah, to me it’s like… go ahead, 

Ute: Go, go ahead, go ahead. 

Heather Ciprani: Oh, I was just gonna say, I like, it’s, you know, to me it’s about the moments.

Like I don’t really have favorite, it’s like the favorite. That wine at that time, at that moment with that food, like that’s my favorite, you know? 

Ute: Yeah, yeah. I, I totally, I do agree with you there. There will be some that stand out and as we’re speaking about Germany when, so I worked for wine.com for a year.

And was laid off with a bunch of other people, but during that time it was really great to order a lot of wine at cost. And so I started looking for some German wines because, you know, here it’s so hard to get a German red wine… 

Heather Ciprani: Oh, of course. 

Ute: …in a store. But, fortunately wine.com has a nice little selection, and I looked for my home region because I’m from Baden.

Heather Ciprani: Oh yeah. I love Baden. 

Ute: It’s so beautiful. 

Heather Ciprani: Yes. 

Ute: And so I looked for my home region and there was a Spatburgunder and it was a, it was called Weingut Ziereisen. And that winery is basically, gosh, like seven miles from my home. 

Heather Ciprani: Wow. 

Ute: In Germany. And so I’m going, “what? And I, I gotta have this!” And so I ordered this bottle and I was, you know, working with my study group for my WSET 3 certification and I brought this wine to try and we’re all just sitting there going, “oh my gosh, this is so amazing!”

And I don’t know if it was, you know, because it was summer and we were just all happy to be together, or whatever it was, or maybe it was just really good wine. But it’s something that I still think about, you know, today.

And of course I couldn’t get it anymore afterwards, so that was… 

Heather Ciprani: Right. 

Ute: I should have just bought like, you know, six bottles. But, 

Heather Ciprani: Of course! 

Ute: You’re always smarter afterwards, right? 

Heather Ciprani: I know, I know. 

Ute: So, I did hear you mention Germany and Switzerland. I heard you mention South Africa. So now you’re gonna have to tell me a little bit about your wine travels.

Heather Ciprani: I mean, you know, it’s funny. I, you know, through corporate we’d have to take people out all the time, and so wine’s just a part of it. But I had no idea what I was doing. And so I feel like I didn’t really start becoming more interested in tasting wine until my partner and I got together in 2014 and we started traveling and traveling actually for wine.

But prior to that, I was… I mean, I was a student ambassador for the US when I was in high school, and so I got to go to South Africa and my host family that I stayed with got to actually take me to some wineries, which was fun. And so it was always a part of my life and I think growing up to, you know, I, you know, alcohol, it was like having wine at dinner.

You know, maybe it’s just that more kind of European kind of background where it was just never a big deal. I never, 

Ute: yeah, yeah. 

Heather Ciprani: It’s not like, you know, I mean, yes, you know, you drink when you’re younger, but I got to college and I was like, whatever. Like I just, it was, it was just always a part. Like I never abused it, it was just always a part of my life from such a young age and 

Ute: Right.

Heather Ciprani: It was something I did get to always share back with my family and so that was kind of the fun is I would travel to these places and. My go-tos were like, I wanna bring back wine and I wanna bring back food to share. And I would come back from my travels and I would come visit my family and I would make this, you know, especially like in Baden, you know, I got to go over there quite a few times and I would just, I would make spaetzles and the sour, you know, all of the beautiful foods, and then we’d share.

You know, we went and hiked and I brought back some of the Brandys, you know, from those small towns and 

Ute: Yes! I always bring back Brandys! 

Heather Ciprani: They’re so good. And it’s just to me that like I don’t bring back, you know, chatchkes and you know, any of that stuff. It’s always like, what can we eat and what can we drink and what can we share?

Ute: Mm-hmm. Yeah. 

Heather Ciprani: And to really show them like what a place can really do. And so I, you know, was fortunate I got to live in Italy when I was in college. You know, I spent a lot of time in Europe. I spent a lot of time in Asia, and so that was kind of my, you know, my love language. It’s like, let me cook for you and show you what I just experienced.

Ute: For sure. Yeah. Yeah. I, I love traveling. Of course, I don’t get to do it as much as I want to, but I’m definitely with you there. The food and wine is such a big component of that. You know, my husband and I traveled in October. First, I was in Germany, just to be home with my family. 

Heather Ciprani: Oh, amazing. 

Ute: But then we went into Burgundy and Paris and Reims, and the food that we ate there. So memorable and so amazing! Like, you know, I really want them to cook for me all the time. 

Heather Ciprani: Right. I know. Well, to me it’s like the, I love Europe is, it’s like every time I’m over there, I’m home. And the slow pace I wanna bring back the, you know, the digestif that you drink after the meal, and all of that is just, it’s actually so nourishing to you to have time.

It’s why you feel so good when you travel to Europe, and most of our digestive issues go away because we’re doing it in a slow way and having it appropriately. You know, you, I’ve never, ever felt hungover when I’ve gone out to eat in Europe and sat at dinner for three hours and drank as much wine as possible.

And I wake up and I feel great. And it’s the flow. It’s how you do it, and it’s just, oh man, it, it’s just, it’s what I wanna bring to the table here is just a piece of that knowledge and to share with people that slow way and the immersion. 

Ute: Exactly. To, to slow down is such an important thing. And I’ve said this on this podcast before, talking with other people, I really loved not getting rushed.

When I wanted the check, I had to let them know. It was not automatically delivered to my table with the, “no rush!” What? 

Heather Ciprani: Exactly. 

Ute: What? What do you mean? No rush? You just presented me a check. That is not exactly an invitation to order more . 

Heather Ciprani: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. 

Ute: And so yeah, I really, really enjoyed doing that.

There’s, as a matter of fact, when we were in Beaune, it was amazing. So, in France, and I’m sure you probably know this, they close the restaurants down in the afternoons. And some of them stay open, but they only serve drinks during that time and the kitchens do not open again until 7:00 PM.

And so my husband and I the first evening in Beaune and we didn’t know that we needed a reservation, and so we walked into this restaurant and they had like two or three tables that they reserved for walk-ins, but you needed to be there early. And so we walked in there at 6:40 and we asked them, you know, if we can have a table and you know, they’re doing the little French thing. “Uh, yeah, maybe.” It was, it was adorable. I mean, they were really, really cute about it. 

And they also really, you know, they, they noticed that I speak French reasonably well, but they also noticed that my husband doesn’t really, and so they tried so hard to communicate with us, which was great. But you know, here we are and we’re ordering this three course meal that we were able to put together ourselves out of, you know, several options.

And we ordered a bottle of wine and we sat there until 10:00 PM. 

Heather Ciprani: That’s amazing. 

Ute: And it was so lovely. And so much fun and, and so delicious and oh my gosh, I could have gone back there every night. 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. Oh man. It’s like, take me away. That’s what dreams are made of right there. 

Ute: Yes, exactly. When can I go again?

Heather Ciprani: Right. 

Ute: So you do, of course, nutrition. But you also sent me this really lovely sample kit of oil cleansing sample set is what it says. So you do, like cosmetics or, or skincare products? 

Heather Ciprani: Yes. 

Ute: And I love the name and I need to know Flower and Bone. What? 

Heather Ciprani: So my partner and I, when we first got together, you know, we were always out adventuring outside. You know, roaming around and every time we were out, we’d always end up, you know, with our collection of things and it usually ended up being flowers and bones. And I was kind of having this meditation on that one day and I was like, “you know what, there’s something really beautiful and powerful and cyclical about what that means.”

You know, the flowers, they feed us. They feed our bones. You know, if you’re into biodynamic, you know how you put animal bones back into the earth bone, you know, our, the plants need bone meal to thrive. And you know, to me it was just that beautiful cyclical relationship, and I’m like, “that’s it. That’s it right there. That’s the circle of life.” 

Ute: Yeah. 

Heather Ciprani: And so I started that skincare company when I started my master’s in nutrition. I mean, partly because I had left corporate and I was like, oh, you know, you start kind of like, you know, especially when you’re going into that clean beauty rabbit hole, right? And to that clean rabbit hole, you know, you’re just like, I can’t use any of this stuff anymore.

And you throw it all out. And I really wanted to challenge the idea of how do I feed my skin? You know, I’m always in the kitchen. I’m like, I know there’s something in here. I know there’s something, that my skin’s an organ. Why would I wanna put anything other than food onto it in order to take care of it?

Ute: Nourish the body. Nourish the skin. 

Heather Ciprani: Exactly. Exactly. And so I really started peeling back those layers and experimenting and playing for so long with what can I do? And you know, if I had that hard line of, I can, if I can put it in my mouth, I can put it on my skin. And so that’s really, for me, what makes that cut.

So I don’t use anything in there. Everything’s shelf stable. I don’t use any fillers. And honestly, it’s not rocket science. I mean it’s, it’s just old school herbal infusions. It’s whole plan infusions. It’s, you know, I’m like, I didn’t invent this. This has been around for thousands of years. This… 

When I entered into the beauty world, I actually did a trade show in 2020 and it was a clean beauty trade show, and I’m down in LA and people were, I mean, I had like Whole Foods walking in my booth.

I had Amazon, you know, and these buyers were like, “wow, what an interesting concept.” 

… blown away, I was like, I just can’t believe that there is space in this place for me. And that nobody was doing it. And so it’s great because it allowed me, I didn’t realize it when I first launched it, but it allows me to actually have, I’ve done retreats, I’ve gone places.

I had my own apothecary for a small bit before the pandemic, and it allows me to have a conversation with someone because a lot of times with their skin, when we have all these eruptions, when things are going on, my very first question with someone when they come to me is I’m like, “how’s your digestion? Like, what’s going on with your gut?”

You know, you have Rosacea , that’s, that’s [both speaking simultaneously]. And so to me it allows me to have that conversation because we don’t wanna talk about what we’re eating, we don’t really wanna talk about, even though it’s going on. You know, we don’t really, it’s prying, you know? And so it allows me to have that conversation a much easeful way, because of course the skin you care about you, what can I put on it? How can I age beautifully, you know, and it’s really about, well, what are you doing internally? In order to make that happen. 

And yeah, when I’ve done these, I’ve done, you know, like little mini facial demos and stuff. And actually the people that have the most kind of challenges with their gut do the best with my line because it’s all anti-inflammatory.

You know, I’m, using crazy ingredients to me, like my other thing was like, it shouldn’t cost a million dollars. My skin, my face oil’s $20 because that’s what it should cost. I’m not using these isolates like we think about in our food. You’re, you know, you’re doing this crazy extract and you’re putting it like, into skincare and you’re like, it actually works better and more symbiotically when you use the whole plant.

There’s a natural source of lantoine and comfy and it regenerates skin cells. It’s like, boom. Awesome. Let’s put it in there. 

Ute: Yeah. So what you sent to me is one a Miracle Skin Oil cleanser. You sent me a toner and then a facial oil. So I’ve used it several times. My skin feels really, really lovely after I put it on. But what I was going to say is I’m actually keeping the toner in my office. Because it one, it smells so nice! And two, I am a woman of a certain age and you know, I will suddenly like get a hot flash and I found I just kind of spray the toner on my face. And I just kind of sit there for a moment and just kind of breathe that in.

And I am not saying, you know, that it’s making my hot flash going away, but it’s something that…

Heather Ciprani: It is actually. It’s cooling. You know, rose water is cooling and so peppermint, so they’re astringent herbs. 

Ute: Oh, there you go. It’s making my hot flash going away! 

Heather Ciprani: Absolutely. And it’s actually antiviral, so I use it as a hand sanitizer. 

Ute: Oh, okay.

Heather Ciprani: It’s, you know, propolis is in it and it’s antiviral and I’m like, yes, more hand sanitizer. 

Ute: I, I just love to just sit there for a moment and, you know, just let it pass and have that toner on my face and it’s just really lovely. So thank you so much. I am definitely, 

Heather Ciprani: You’re welcome!

Ute: I’m going to get that from you again once I’m through this bottle.

Heather Ciprani: Wonderful. 

Ute: So I’m gonna put of course, your information down into the show notes so that anybody who is interested in any of that stuff or you know about the work that you do as a private chef, I want them all to be able to, you know, find that information easily in the show notes. And I do have one final question because we are approaching 45 minutes, believe it or not.

Heather Ciprani: Oh my gosh, of course. 

Ute: Right? I do love the topic of nutrition. Of course, as you know, I’ve done nutrition myself, and I would like for you to give one piece of advice and you know, obviously we have a lot of women listeners, one piece of nutrition advice for women. Just as a general, take this with you because it’s always right. It’s always true. 

Heather Ciprani: I, I’m gonna, there’s so much I could say, right? It’s hard to have just one piece of advice, especially for women because a lot of women, you know, a lot of who I coach is women. But I will say, you know, my first and foremost, and this could be for men and women, and then I will give you a specific one, but, you know, after the pandemic, we really learned how important it is to have resilience, right?

We think of wellness and we’re like, “oh, they never get sick. And that’s actually not what wellness is about, right? It’s not about never getting sick. It’s about how you rebound, how resilient are you? And that’s really the key. It’s, and you could take that into so many different ways, right?

From mindset to your lifestyle to everything. But we need to take our health seriously. And I think so many people, you know, just from, I mean the number one issue that people have, we have a lot of digestive discomfort and we go around and we’re like, “oh, it’s just stress. Oh, it’s just getting old.” And we make all these excuses for it as if it’s normal to be living in pain. 

It’s not, it’s absolutely not normal to be living in pain. It’s not a sign that you’re growing old. You shouldn’t have achy joints, you shouldn’t have swelling and just digestive discomfort. All of that is… are signs that your body’s like, “Hey, something is off.”

And I think especially as women, we will care for everybody else and we’re the last person that we think about to do something for, and I just really want to, you know, talk to the women out there and just say, “look like you gotta honor yourself because these, these things that are happening, this discomfort is only gonna get louder. And by the time you get to the point to pay attention to it, you could have done something 10 years ago and now you’re stuck with a lot of chronic illnesses that can be resolved fairly easily just by giving yourself a few moments.” You know, it’s, maybe it’s you’re prepping the meals for the kids and you prep something for you too.

I mean, there’s amazing ways. I love when I work with people just to give them little nuggets of like, let me help you figure it out. You don’t have to do this alone. You shouldn’t have to do this alone. There are people out here that can be on your team and to really help you get it together, and it’s just about giving yourself permission to say, “you know what? I am going to make sure I feel good.” Because that’s what you should be passing down to your children, is showing them that self-care that, you know, honoring yourself really is self-care and taking time and, and making sure you feel good because you can’t, you know, you can’t help anybody else when you feel terrible.

Ute: Yeah. It should not be an out of the ordinary thing to take care of yourself and, and to put yourself first, like to put your health first. 

Heather Ciprani: Yes. 

Ute: That should not be an extraordinary thing, “oh my gosh. Look at her taking such great care of her, of herself.” 

Heather Ciprani: Yeah. 

Ute: No, that’s like ” yes, you should.” 

Heather Ciprani: Yes, a hundred percent.

And it’s like, I think we watched the pandemic with people that it’s like, oh my gosh, they were healthy. And it’s like, were they? You know, and I think we really have to question like, what does that mean and what does that mean for you and what are you gonna do about it going forward to make sure that you’re resilient.

And the other piece of advice I would say is protein. Especially as we age. I mean, it is, I sound like a broken record, but man, like that’s my number one thing I do when I work with women is like, how do we get this in? Because yeah, that’s what’s gonna save you when you’re older. So, making sure we get that in is really critical.

 But making time for yourself. 

Ute: I love that. Thank you so much, Heather. 

Heather Ciprani: Yes, you’re welcome. 

Ute: This has been such a great conversation for me. And again, this is, I mean, wine and nutrition, I could talk about that all day long. And then you put in cooking with that, you know, cooking fancy meals. Which of course is part of nutrition, but literally all day long and we could be still talking in five hours.

Heather Ciprani: I love it. 

Ute: I don’t know that they’re gonna wanna listen for that long. 

Heather Ciprani: Yes. 

Ute: So thank you again so much for being here. Again, we’re gonna put everything into the show notes. And you know, if anybody is interested in working with Heather as a nutritionist or if you want to find out where she’s cooking or you wanna work something out with her, then definitely get in touch with her. I know I will. 

So thank you. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. 

Heather Ciprani: Thanks so much. You too. 

Ute: And with all that, all I have left to say of course, is Prost!

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