Food for Thought
Chef, wellness advocate, and self-proclaimed empowerment architect Sophia Roe is dishing up food philosophy.
Sophia Roe, the 29-year-old New York City denizen, isn’t like other chefs. In fact, maybe she isn’t like other people. “I always felt like an outsider,” she remembers. “I was definitely wild, sort of feral. I didn’t get taken care of in the traditional sense by my parents, so now I take care of people.” The absence of familial guidance drove Roe to the television. But instead of cartoons or sitcoms, something a little more savory caught her attention. “I would sit and watch Great Chefs of the World at seven years old, imagining how good it would feel to eat [the dishes made on the show]. As time progressed, it became more about feeding other people, nourishing them, making them healthy, showing you care. In that sense, [cooking] is a bit of a spiritual practice for me.”
That practice extends beyond the dishes themselves—even the dishes extend beyond the dishes, brimming with hidden meaning. “Food and feelings are intimately connected; that’s the root of food addiction. That’s why I investigate my clients’ eating habits in food journals. Those journals are actually stress journals. I’ll look at the food someone’s putting in their body and think, This screams trauma. As a chef, I can honor the trauma or honor the body. Creating that deliberate practice is definitely the space I come from.”
Mindful eating isn’t the only way Roe sorts trauma; she’s also using food as a means to reclaim self-care. It’s the piece of the pie (so to speak) that’s been missing from the neo-feminist playbook. “I’m proud when I see women command food in the kitchen. There’s something very strong and sexy about a woman taking care of herself,” Roe says. “There’s definitely that history of women cooking for a man, for her family, for other people. I don’t disrespect that union—I love that, I support that. But when I get home from a long day, I’m in the kitchen preparing my own food because I’m taking care of myself. Period. Sometimes self-love is as simple as making yourself a gorgeous meal.”