WH: How did you become interested in this line of work? (tell us a little bit about your background)
Corinne: My career in the food and beverage industry started almost 25 years ago when I became producing editor and test kitchen director at Saveur Magazine. I grew up in France and Cambodia. Half French from my mother’s side, and half Chinese from my father’s. Growing up I was exposed to a lot of different foods and cultures. Though we are Chinese origin, my father and his siblings were born in Phnom Penh. From there, with family members getting married, our home base expanded to Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) and just outside of Jakarta in Indonesia. Traveling the world and mostly within the European and Asian continent, I started delving deeply into Eastern food philosophies and practices. Eventually after writing eight cookbooks featuring Asian cuisines, I wanted to learn about tea. Though I grew drinking tea, I took it for granted up until about 10 years ago. I have always been searching for different ways to stay present. My yoga and meditation practice has grown over the years, and folding tea into this spiritual practice only made sense.
WH: What motivates you to do what you do? or Where does your passion come from?
Corinne: My passion comes from wanting to go back to basics at a time when everything is convenient and instant. We are going through the motions instead of truly feeling. A lot of things we experience nowadays is superficial. We take things for granted because everything is done for us. We no longer have to think. This is bad news on multiple levels. I want more and having less is indeed more. To live with the bare minimum, forces you to think outside the box and truly appreciate life, and the here and now.
WH: What personal or professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Corinne: Giving birth to my daughter is what I am most proud of. Sure I’ve published many books, some award-winning, but nothing compares to the miracle that is a baby. She didn’t come out easy. It was hard work. She is now a teenager and it doesn’t necessarily get easier. Every day she teaches me patience. A child is the most incredible teacher one can possibly have. I feel very lucky to experience her daily.
WH: Who are your role models and mentors?
Corinne: I have many role models and mentors and they are unknown. I don’t know their names. I’m in Thailand and I am rubbing elbows with locals, seated on a bench, pulled up to the counter, where the food hawker is serving up stir-fried noodles. She’s my role model. I enter a bakery in France, where the pastry chef is making dough from scratch, arranging apple slices in concentric circles perfectly. He’s my mentor. I have been lucky enough to have many moments like that where I learn so much from people who are just making an honest living.
WH: What is the best resource for people who wish to learn more about your line of work?
Corinne: I have created a lifestyle that combines everything needed to experience balance on a daily basis, and more importantly stay present. Yoga (or any physical and meditative activity), healthy food, and tea keep me humble and real. I walk the talk. For those wanting to go back to basics, put away their phones and their laptops, and truly experience life, it can be done. I teach people how to live. In some ways it seems silly, but again we have forgotten the most basic things in life because we choose convenience to get through the days. This is counterintuitive. We should be slowing down the pace, taking the time to cook dinner from scratch so that we may engage our senses fully. Eat and drink slowly, noticing how the meal makes us feel. Engaging in conversation, rather than texting. Jotting a few words down, so you can reflect later.
WH: Share a quote sums up your life's philosophy.
Corinne: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou
WH: If you weren't in this line of work, what would you be doing instead?
Corinne: There was a time in my life when I saw myself an archeologist. I like digging deep and getting to the bottom of things. Instead of digging some ancient site, I dig deep into my psyche, peel back the layers, deconstruct and rebuild.
WH: What would be the title of your Autobiography?
Corinne: Jumping Through Hurdles with Pen in Hand
WH: If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you have and why?
Corinne: a) Tea because it keeps me energized, calm, and focused; b) avocado because it is the perfect food with over 20 nutrients; c) coconut, its water, its oil and its flesh because it is a thirst quencher and natural sunscreen.
WH: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Corinne: Walk and explore no matter where I am. I love people watching and seek a change of pace. Observe and absorb is what I’ve always told my students. That is also what I do in my free time.
WH: What was the last book your read or PodCast you listened to that inspired you?
Corinne: The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text going back millennia that still holds true today. It is the battlefield of life and conflicts we experience daily. The Gita is an instant reminder of what not to do.
WH: Please share a wellness tip that relates to the workshops you will be hosting: :
Corinne: Don’t dwell in the past, it is gone and there is nothing you can do about it. Stop reaching for the future. Why seek what you don’t know? The way to happiness is staying in the present moment. Live today fully.
WH: Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Corinne: Find a practice, a sadhana that is your own and that allows you to appreciate the here and now.