Chef Natalie Varrallo grew up in Woodstock, New York, where she was exposed to alternative forms of food, medicine, community, and lifestyle. From 2008 through 2015, she spent her summers in Taiwan, immersing herself in the traditions of Humanistic Buddhism through the Fo Guang Shan movement. After completing her degree in Botany and Sustainable Agriculture from the Evergreen State College in Washington, she went on to receive her certificate in permaculture design and permaculture education, and has since been working to combine the ritualistic and communal values of gardening and cooking that she learned in Asian monasteries with her formal background in botany and agriculture to arrive at the conception of a plant-based lifestyle that is wholly nourishing and ecologically sustainable. She strongly believes that the creation of food from a place of love can result in a distinct blend of science and nutrition that is thoroughly fulfilling, as well as delicious. She has been teaching seed to table culinary education for the past five years to illuminate a new way of approaching the culinary world. She is excited about living and working in the community at Menla.