Ingrid Benecke-Chiles and Alex Maurer aim to educate the Springfield, Missouri, community on the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda through their consultation and specialty catering business Collective Kitchen. In their one-on-one approach, Maurer helps clients identify the best foods for their Ayurvedic makeup and Benecke-Chiles sends them home with a plethora of recipes developed to meet their individual needs.
The duo also caters yoga retreats and other gatherings, where they create dishes based on each guest’s answers on an intake form and designed to ground the group. To sample their spreads, follow Collective Kitchen on Facebook: They regularly post pop-up menus, and then you can stop by their kitchen to pick up some of the tasty take-home meals.
What is Ayurveda, and why is it important? Ayurveda is a simple system of medicine that says opposites balance and like increases like. What that means is that if you’re freezing cold on a January day, and you naturally run cold, you probably shouldn’t opt for a cold, crunchy salad with raw vegetables that has been in the refrigerator [for lunch]. You should probably opt for something more warming, nourishing and grounding because that’s the opposite. –Alex Maurer
Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. Just through my interest in yoga and more plant-based, holistic eating, I connected a lot with Ayurveda – it is sort of the natural progression of diving deeper into yoga. [Alex] has done training and dove into it even more than I have, so she can just kind of connect with people’s different constitutions and get a read on how to bring them into balance with the season of food. It's like a different language; it’s more related to the elements. It’s just a fun way of eating. –Ingrid Benecke-Chiles
What can people gain from adopting an Ayurvedic way of eating? The thing about the way we cook and eat is that it doesn’t hold [us] back; it’s not restrictive. Once you know how your body feels in health, you don’t crave the things that cause imbalance. I just want our clients to figure that out and omit all the fad diets – that could be my one goal. We want to allow our business model to take on the role of education so that our clients know what they’re eating, know why they’re eating it and understand why it’s making them feel better. That’s the mind-body connection. –A.M.
What’s your long-term vision for Collective Kitchen? We definitely love doing specialty catering. I like how we get to cater to each individual’s bio-individuality. We get to feed [people] in a way that is appropriate for their body. Everyone gets an intake form, and we adapt to allergies and even preferences. It is different than general catering because we are very much committed to the individual, not just feeding the masses. I would say specialty catering is in our future as well as women’s retreats and pop-up picnics in the spring. Longer-term, we do have a vision for a place where people can sit after a yoga class and have a nourishing drink. –I.B.C.
Collective Kitchen, facebook.com/collectivekitchensgf