My passion for cooking started in my grandmother’s kitchen in South India when I was 4 years old by watching and helping her. Being transplanted in Canada in the 70’s I helped my mom make daily meals and being close to the kitchen was my comfort zone and as a teenager.
After being the IT field for 12 years I perused my dream of being a chef by attending George Brown Culinary program and worked with many top chefs in Canada. I apprenticed in Germany/Switzerland (Bodensee, Lake of Constance) for two years. I was diagnosed with Type1 diabetes (November 14, 2005 – on World Diabetes Day), and have been using my culinary skills to develop Low GI, healthy meal planning for people with chronic diseases (diabetes, celiac, and cardiovascular issues) or people interested in cooking healthy and run Chezsiva Cooking School since 2007.
I travel to many parts of the world each year and my passion for food connects me with local ingredients & gastronomy and cooks and I bring that knowledge back home to create my culinary creations. My philosophy is to use fresh local ingredients and cooking with seasons in Canada. I also believe that cooking should come from the heart – when you cook with season’s fresh quality ingredients and with a little bit of passion the results will be outstanding. Cooking healthy doesn’t mean you have to compromise taste as my motto – we need to feed all our senses.
Through my philosophy, knowledge and passion – healthy eating, daily fitness helps me balance my life with type1 diabetes. I like to share this knowledge with people who want to eat healthier, manage their diabetes and lead a healthy life. I hope you will join me on my chronicles.
I’ve been a volunteer for the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) since 2006 and am the Executive Chair & one of the founding members of the South Asian Diabetes Chapter of CDA in GTA. I organize and present information sessions on diabetes awareness, prevention and management for the South Asian community and Type1 diabetes community. I am also one of the driving forces behind several diabetes expos for the South Asian community. I played a key role in helping CDA produce culturally relevant diabetes literature “Just the Basics”. I’ve taught cooking classes at area grocery stores, community centres and trade shows. I’ve appeared on Rogers TV, City TV, OMNI, and many community channels, OMNI talking & teaching and healthy cooking many times. I am also a media spokes person for the South Asian Community in the issues of Type2 Diabetes.
In 2009 I was awarded Regional volunteer of the year by CDA and in 2011 Grassroots Diabetes Award by SAPNA (South Asian Professional Network for Health Awareness) group. I was a member of the Food and Nutrition Policy Advisory Committee of CDA and member of Patient Advisory Subcommittee for Women’s College Hospital. I am now a member of National Advocacy Council of CDA, Ontario Advocacy Committee of CDA and Women’s Culinary Network of Canada. I guest lecture at George Brown College on the Nutrition Programme and travel across Canada giving keynote presentations on “Healthy Eating for the Family” and doing live-cooking demos. I am working on my first cookbook.
Grassroots Projects closer to the heart…
Siva is also a freelance writer who wrote articles for the CBC when she returned to South India to help after the effects of the tsunami that destroyed her hometown’s fishing industry in 2005 and wrote a follow up article in 2010. She continues to support grassroots projects with local NGOs and providing uniform, mid-day lunch and school supplies for school children, sewing machine for young ladies and widows and delivery cart for unemployed fishermen to start a small business in her hometown of Nagapattinam in South India.