We had the good fortune of connecting with Sabrina A. Falquier Montgrain, MD and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sabrina, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised in Mexico City to Swiss and American parents. Having different languages spoken at home, worldwide travel, different cultures and culinary experiences have shaped my world view. I spent many summers in Switzerland, and there there was one daily ritual I would always share with my grandmother. Each morning I would accompany her to different small shops, watching her speak to the vegetable and fruit stand vendor, or the butcher, or the cheesemonger, as we gathered ingredients at the peak of freshness. The perspective I gained from those experiences of taking simple, real ingredients, and making them shine. This, along with honoring the different food traditions in varied countries, are the inspiration behind my culinary medicine practice. My approach is awakening the senses around ingredient acquisition and food preparation while empowering people to better health through nutritional knowledge and culinary literacy. As a physician, I want to show my patients the link between health and nutrition, and to empower them to make doable, delicious meals that are also fantastic for their bodies.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Sensation Salud, LLC, my new company, is about empowering people towards culinary literacy, in English and Spanish, so they can move the needle toward better and more sustainable health. It is about knowing the effects (good or bad) of certain foods on the body and then taking that knowledge and applying it with culinary skills regularly. I have worked with doctors, medical groups, children, families, non-profit organizations. I love how varied my audience is. How, no matter the education, income level, country of origin, language spoken at home, it is the same information being sought out. I love having people learn that healthy can and should be delicious. That it is not stripping your culinary upbringing, it is finding how to use the spices and flavors that you love in a way that promotes health, rather than impede it. We have lost our ability to know how to cook and we are paying a high price as far as the declining health of our society. My goal is to empower people to come back to the kitchen and to know how to do this in a delicious way, that is also fantastic for their body. Culinary Medicine is quite a new field and creating a new voice for myself, after 15 years as a traditional primary care doctor, was a giant leap. I often describe the efforts and outward facing aspects of entrepreneurship as an iceberg, especially now with social media – the big highlights, the positives are seen by more than ever before, and yet, under the water, there are days of doubts, thankless behind the scenes work, knocking on doors, networking that make one question and doubt. Yet, you know you are heading in a direction that feels right. You find your allies, your cheerleaders, your people and that helps to march on. One of my favorite aspects of this new work, is the different people I have met. I have loved bringing the silo’s of different disciplines together – especially between the medical world and the culinary world. I love the variety of the people I get to do work with. I also love how I am being fully me. My full personality has been allowed to shine, now that I have found my full passion. I feel more fully alive and present in this work, and I truly believe that we, as a society, benefit from people finding their passion and putting it out into the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego – wow, where to begin! Assuming they arrive on a Friday. Saturday morning we’d be off for a waterfront walk and end up at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market to talk to fisherman (Hello Dan and Kelli Major from Plan B!) and see their catch of the week, pick what is calling to us. Then off to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market to accompany our fish. I love meeting the farmers, seeing the faces of who grew the food I’m about to eat. On return home, we would take our time using our bounty to perfection. I would convince my husband to make his amazing Paloma’s to accompany our meal, hang out poolside and when the sun goes down, a lovely backyard pit fire to continue the catch up conversation! I would definitely have us take a day in Balboa Park. We’d meander in and out of museums, get a drink at the Prado on the back deck. Walking the Prado always brings me back to my wedding, where I walked down that area in my wedding dress. Beautiful space and beautiful memories. I love taking people to the beach in the afternoon – after 3pm, The crowds are going down, still nice and warm. Picnic in hand as well as boogie boards, surf board, skim board, smash ball and Kubb, we are set for a delightful afternoon into sunset time at the beach. Favorite beach – for all activities desired would be Tourmaline or Law Street beach. I’m hoping I could convince my guest for an early rise and walk up the back side of Cowles Mountain, another hike to Annie’s Canyon Trail – impressive little trail for sure! I think an overnight into Idyllwild would be on the itinerary. I would take them to El Buen Cacao – my favorite Bean to Bar chocolatier couple! A gorgeous hike there, a delicious dinner at Ferro in their back garden, where the pine trees reflect on their glass tables. Magic during summer evenings! Back to San Diego: I love supporting local, small restaurants. Top of my list: Wet Stone in Bankers Hill – Christian has this uncanny ability to take you on a vacation in our very own city. His menus, his wine selections, all match that beautiful getaway. Also Wrench and Rodent for sushi or The Plot, for amazing plant-based fare – owners Jessica and Davin Waite make sublime food and care tremendously about decreasing food waste.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes! Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City, California. They have given me the wings I didn’t know I had to launch into Culinary Medicine full force and with confidence.
Image 6650: credit to Berry Good Food Foundation
Others all provided by myself: Sabrina A. Falquier Montgrain