Create & Cultivate 100: Food: Sophia Roe

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For Sophie Roe, food is anything that is necessary to maintain life and grow. It’s a sort of poetry for the holistic NYC chef and self-proclaimed “food and feelings advocate,” who is on a mission to create a new sort of culture around food and wellness.

She encourages her friends and followers to explore the different relationships they have with food, while simultaneously working to renounce the all-too-common toxic narratives around food like shame or guilt. She advocates for more inclusivity in the food industry and is on a mission to empower her community through sustenance. Also note that she can explain the hell out of gluten, once and for all.

To talk to Sophie is to see holistic health in a new light. Her passion and zest is injected into every word, every meal, and every declaration of gratitude. She is helping to pioneer a paradigm shift and making space for a culture that is invested in health as wealth.

How did you get started as a chef? Did you always know you wanted to be in the food industry?

I have always had a relationship with food. Some of my favorite memories with my mother involve food. It wasn’t what I initially wanted to do right out of high school, however a string of events put food directly into my path, and I am so grateful for it!

Apart from being a chef, your bio says you’re a food and feelings advocate, and an empowerment engineer. Can you explain to us how you tie in food with feelings and empowerment?

I believe ‘food” constitutes much more than just the edible variety. Food is so deeply tied to overall consumption, I truly believe there is emotional and mental “food” –the stuff we absorb throughout the day outside of what is edible. Food is so often used as a tool for guilt, shame, pain, etc. which I find to be a travesty because we need every variety of “food” to survive. When we dive deeper, and look at our individual relationships and stories around food, what we end up with is often so a much deeper narrative than we had initially thought. So often a person may want to get their diet back on track, but it turns out they were struggling with an eating disorder, being made fun of as a child, or perhaps is dealing with deep-seeded insecurities. This is why “empowerment” is so valuable in connection to food.

If you could have a meal with someone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

This is such an interesting question because the answer changes depending on mood and timing. Right now, I’d really love to have a meal with my father. He died before I could meet him, and I think it would be really special to have been able to share a meal with him before he passed away.

What do you crave in life?

Childlike wonder and copious amounts of HAPPY!

What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?

It’s my greatest hope that my work reminds people of who they are, the power they possess, and the knowledge that they can in fact be who they dream of, and more.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“If you blame it on someone else, don’t expect it to get any better.” Ultimately, we are the keepers of our own lives. Always blaming others for what you don’t have or didn’t accomplish (victim addiction) only passes blame, and maybe makes you feel justified…but rarely resolves the issue.

What’s been the biggest surprise or highlight of your career to date?

Being on the most recent cover of Cherry Bombe magazine (issue 12)!I have been a reader of that magazine for years. Its pages have inspired me, and my career in food beyond belief, so it’s a real honor to grace the cover.

Where does your passion/drive come from?

From knowing how painful pain can feel, and how happy happiness can feel.

What keeps you up at night?

All of the hundreds of things I want to make and give to others.

It’s my greatest hope that my work reminds people of who they are.

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Whose career really inspires you?

I can’t say because I don’t know what it’s like to exist as anyone but myself. The words of so many inspire me, the actions of so may also inspire me. But to dial in on a person’s career? That’s challenging for me because to the naked eye someone’s career may be super inspiring or filled with greatness; however, I am sure behind what we all see is so much hard work, struggle, and maybe even some suffering. I am more inspired by people themselves, and not so much their careers.

What has been your biggest opportunity or biggest challenge as a young, female entrepreneur?

My own confidence has been the biggest hurdle for me. I am constantly bombarded with self-inflicted imposter syndrome. Finding a place where I believe that I actually deserve a career has been a huge struggle. I had such a tumultuous childhood, so figuring out how to maneuver those memories, and feelings as an adult seeking a career has been my greatest challenge.

What are the common challenges you've seen among women in the food industry?

I think one of the biggest problems with women in the food industry is simply proper visibility! It’s not like suddenly there are tons of women in the kitchen. So many publications talk about this new uproar of females in the kitchen. WE HAVE BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME! I think now you’re seeing more focus on women in food because women are paving their own ways in the industry. Women are creating their own restaurants, concepts, publications, etc. I don’t really see this as a struggle, I’d like to think women are just setting themselves free from the standards that have been put in place for so long.

It’s important when things go wrong to stay calm, assess the situation in realistic way & shift gears accordingly.

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When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?

As long as you know and understand that at the start of every venture there will be hiccups, and bumps in the road, you sort of give yourself permission to stay calm when you’re staring face to face with one. 90 percent of what I worried would happen, never ended up happening anyway; it’s very important when things go wrong to stay calm, assess the situation in realistic way (leaving the emotion as far out of it as possible), and shift gears accordingly.

What are you most excited for in 2019?

Finishing my first book!!!!

Photography by Annie McElwain Photography

Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica