Chef and public figure Angèle Ferreux-Maeght first rose to notoriety for her ethical catering services in the fashion world. Her culinary creations and the philosophies behind them were so well-received that Angèle has since become a respected figure in France on the topic of healthy eating and positive lifestyle.
After establishing herself in the fashion world, she has opened two small shops in the I and then another in the XI Arrondissements of Paris. From these spaces, she sells fresh foods made according to naturopathic and holistic traditions and prepared by an all-female team at her garden atelier. Angèle has also published two books, appeared on TV channel France 5, and continues to work on numerous other projects for spreading her bright messages with no signs of stopping.
When given the chance to peer into Angèle’s inner world, it becomes clear that her success is a natural manifestation of an alignment of values, matched with equal parts humility and love. In fact, it is clear that success isn’t the central object of her focus at all, but rather the pursuit of principles in her life, whereas achieving balance and wellbeing stand as the primary measures of achievement and everything else in her external world simply follows suit. This makes sense particularly because so much of her philosophy around health, nutrition, and lifestyle are oriented around the concept of holism.
Angèle is a living example that good health is the sum of many different parts. For her, this mindset comes through the collection of myriad philosophies she’s picked up from cultures around the world beginning with an early childhood spent on her family’s farm in southern France. “Everything made sense. We knew the value of everything because we used to plant the vegetables and harvest them from the garden. We knew that food was not only to fill your belly. It was much more.”
These roots laid an important foundation as she eventually left France to explore the culinary traditions and lifestyle philosophies that sustained people in other parts of the world. Angèle learned that food is also medicine through the study of Ayurveda in India. She solidified her beliefs about the importance of cultivating healthy food systems based on fairness and locality during a year spent working at the Ferry Building Market in San Francisco. She discovered the powers of detoxifying food and intermittent fasting during a summer spent in Australia, an experience that stimulated her desire to study medicine and naturopathy upon returning to France.
As a result of her travels, she came at the topic of health, healing, and medicine from a refreshing perspective. “I think that co-working with new [western] medicine is the secret. Because western medicine saves people when they break a leg, but the other kinds of medicine are about prevention. I think this is very intelligent. In traditional Chinese medicine for example, you’re going to see a doctor when you’re in good health, and he helps to keep you in good health. He is paid for that. For us, it’s the opposite. He is paid when we are already sick. For me, that kind of system is not okay.”
She applies the same holistic mindset to the food she makes because she is motivated by the desire to share these principles with people in France where they aren’t necessarily a given. “Holism is very important because the way you sleep, the way you do activities, the way you eat, as well as the way you interact with people have a great impact on your health. If you eat things your body needs, your body won’t be lacking, and you will be more able to be in a good mood. You’ll be in better shape to receive the goodness of life.” As such, it is hard to draw separation between the fluidity and connection of these different elements of health, happiness, success, and community, and perhaps that’s the point.
This also plays in how she unifies place in her work, an extension of the ways that different culinary traditions and philosophies influence the food she makes. “I’m super happy to be Parisian, but I love nature and I have this connection, and I’m happy to share it with the people. I really feel this ambiguity.” In fact, this connection between city and country makes her more sensitive to how this same juncture exists in the food systems within which she operates. “In terms of the way the agricultural workers are treated, I want them to be paid well to be near Paris. I want total cohesion.”
“The important thing is your everyday lifestyle. I think that if I want to pass on the message I want to share with people of health, wellbeing, and ecology in a good way, I need to be positive about it and not spread fear. It doesn’t help to eat just well. It’s healthy to remove guilt totally, and to do things not for fear but for love.
When prompted about which specific kinds of attitudes shaped Angèle’s inner world, out of which her external world is a product, her responses were telling in terms of how we see them naturally reflected in the joy of what she does and in the way she relates with others. “I don’t know that I have a secret, but I do notice that I’m always positive when things are going wrong. My thing is to love. To have fun and love. Everything that I do, I try to do with pleasure. With that, I never have the feeling of working or doing something that I don’t want to do. I’m happy, and I’m having new experiences all of the time.” She also maintains a strong sense of self-acceptance, “I decided to completely eliminate any sense of guilt in my life. It’s important to be completely cool with myself.”
This way of viewing herself, with love and positivity at the focus, clearly reflect in her external world. It’s easy to see how this way of thinking then flows into her work and in terms of how she connects with her staff. Instead of merely focusing on the output of their work, her priority is focused more on what goes on behind the scenes. “I have a connection with the girls that I’m working with and they also have a connection together. Every morning we are happy to see each other. We talk a lot. We laugh a lot. We listen to music. We dance. We are like a family. We are like a crew!”
Within this all-female workspace, collaboration reigns supreme over competition “There’s this special sensibility about women that I’m really happy to find in the food we cook. There is no competition or jealousy. Not at all. Women have this reputation, but there isn’t really competition.” Instead, “there is some solidarity in these kinds of things, and when I see that it is so touching. I am glad that I am part of—responsible for—this kind of thing. It’s my biggest happiness.”
This subsequently reflects in the food her team prepares together to share with the world. The result is that “the food that we cook is special. It’s made with love and intention.” In turn, that same love and positive intention flows out into the city of Paris and beyond, as each person who eats the food they create together takes a bit of it with them. This is, indeed, no accident. In fact, Angèle’s primary concern in her work is to, “plant little seeds in the heads of people through the food or however else. For me, the biggest goal is that these seeds are growing and that people are buying more intelligently and that consciousness is being raised.”
Holism is not just about physical health. It’s also about cohesion. The food that I make is not only healthy, organic, and gluten free. It’s cooked with love.