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Chef Cynthia, My Story

It’s in PNG (Papua New Guinea) where it all started. My name is Cynthia, and I am a Chef!

I was born in Australia and adopted from birth in 1971. My adoptive parents were told that I had a heart valve problem since I was born. It would need to be replaced in time, as I only have two parts to one of my heart valves and not three like everyone else. But this did not stop my beautiful and caring adoptive parents from giving me total, unconditional love, and my life growing up with them was truly incredible.

I grew up in Lae, Papua New Guinea. My days on the island were filled with visits to other islands with lots of coral reefs, roaring rivers, rainforests, and an abundance of tropical food!

I was drawn to the local cuisine, and life felt like what I could only describe as - being FREE.

Growing up, incredible home cooks surrounded me, none of whom were related to me.

I would assist them with simple tasks like peeling vegetables, lighting the fire, or cooking rice in a pot. During this time, I realised that having food is a right, not a privilege. I recognised food as more than just a source of energy or a recipe. 

It wasn’t until I was 34 that I went to a chef school in Australia and completed my chef apprenticeship. I knew I could cook and handle food, but the one thing that motivated me was the numerous women who taught me the basics of cooking when I was a little girl. They inspired me the most to become the chef that I am today.


When I was 28, a few years after I moved back to Australia, it was decided I finally needed to have heart surgery. I had a valvotomy, a new technique discovered in the 90s that opens up the valve leaflets, allowing better blood flow, not a valve replacement. However, I had been told that this type of surgery was a temporary solution and that I would need a complete valve replacement in around seven years. My countdown had begun! After surgery, I was given a diet list of the do’s and do not’s, and the theme was clear: low-fat dairy, sugar-free sodas, lean meat cuts, whole grains, milo, margarine, salmon, limited fruit daily, protein shakes and steamed veggies. No flavour in sight! And to top it off, I hated diets. Deep in my soul, I knew the diet they gave me yelled – restriction + limitations – with no balance. 

I was a confident home cook with loads of passion, and as a young adult, I spent endless days helping and learning techniques while preparing food. However, most recipes I knew were meat with that veggie add-on twist! Vegetables were not at the top of my list when I cooked back then – they were an afterthought.


A few years passed, and I found myself working in one of Australia’s leading health retreats, surrounded by the most incredible team of humans, from biochemists to naturopaths, who held daily lectures at the retreat. I was searching urgently for the correct answers that would help me. I tried many things and found it all very stressful! I was confused, anxious, constantly stressed, and exhausted from searching for answers. My self-esteem had taken a massive knock as I counted down those seven years – my life was at stake.

I worked hard as a chef at the retreat, learning about the suitable sugars, oils and salts, and I also learned here that carbs and rice were not evil! I was shown how to balance flavours using primarily plants. It was a whole new world for me. I was beginning to realise that food does affect everything in the human body. Real food is a common foundation of a robust and healthy lifestyle, and our bodies respond to those natural ingredients.

I continued attending the lectures at the retreat and learned as much as I could. I asked loads of questions and was given precise answers. It was profound, and there was NO dieting or plans at all… The consistent response was to eat mostly plants.

I was being trained as a healthy chef to cook whole real food. “The answer I was looking for was right in front of me!” It became clear to me that FOOD DOES MATTER – not just for heart health but all-over optimal health. It mattered more than I had ever realised.


Years have passed, and I have become a massive part of people’s health transformations. I have witnessed the complete renewal of individuals, not just their health but also their mindsets, simultaneously feeling alive. Eating this way has changed my entire ecosystem overnight. My skin was super clear, my hormones were at ease, and I now had more energy.

I was looking at food with more respect than ever before. Finally, I had no food fight! I simply increased the plants on my plate. I was still counting down the years, but with far less fear! I was not only kicking goals. My health was the best it had ever been, and I was years overdue for surgery. When I went in for a complete valve replacement 17 years later, all of my doctors and specialists were shocked to find that I could live in a way that prolonged my surgery. In their experience, I should have dropped dead! And yet, I hadn’t.

I shared my diet and lifestyle with them, and they agreed that I should continue doing what I was doing in the same fashion! Factually, my heart valve had deteriorated, but my heart itself was healthy and strong – certainly not inflamed. The food I had been eating allowed my body to operate the best it could. My surgery went so well. Afterwards, I built my body with more plants than ever before. I witnessed the effects of my lifestyle choices, and I knew I had found my answers. 


Not all people can go to health retreats or take me home with them, so I have put everything I know into cooking classes and books. I filmed my work and published books - I now have five online cooking classes and two books to date. Every recipe included in these classes and books is created with intention! They are filled with all the bits I learned from doctors and experts, the excellent training and experience I have accumulated, and my journey with healing, which has brought me the incredible knowledge and 100% awareness that FOOD DOES MATTER! I did it, and so can you.

Chef Cynthia Louise talks about food.  Plant-based food that makes you feel GOOD. 

She won’t talk about diet. She won’t talk about macronutrients. She talks about real food, just like nature intended. And one more thing - if it doesn’t have flavour, it can F-off. Chef Cynthia comes with a large side of personality and an infectious passion.

Not to mention she’s also:

  • An Author of 2 plant-based cookbooks, Celebrate Your Sweet Tooth and Plant-based Love Stories

  • The star of 2 cooking shows on Gaia TV and FMTV

  • The partner of a global chain of restaurants with serial entrepreneur Roger Hamilton

  • Serving hundreds of people on stage and at retreats in Bali

  • Creator of her range of gut-healing food products and online classes

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