One woman’s loss is everyone’s gain! That twist on the old idiom describes well the arc of Vedic Chef/Ayurveda practitioner Sonia Tigero.
You see, at one point Sonia weighed in at 350-pounds. She shed the weight with a workout regime bolstered by self-determination, an inner journey and a personally prepared healthy diet—Sonia ultimately dropped her weight to 180-pounds and in the process opened up one of South Florida’s healthiest, hot-spots the Dosha Café & Juice Bar.
But let’s go back to Buenos Aires, Argentina—the year1961—when Sonia made her appearance (the middle child of four siblings born to Luis and Maria).
“We were a fairly typical middle-class family. My father was a big-rig trucker and my mother, while considered a ‘stay-at-home-mom’ earned money on the side by sewing pillows, and doing some seamstress work from our home.”
And while neither Luis nor Maria had much formal education (6th grade for mom with dad dropping out at 10-years of age), education was something encouraged in the household (Sonia and her sister going on to receive college degrees).
In the 1970’s the family moved to the capital where, after a horrific accident that left her father hospital bound for months, Sonia learned the true meaning of “family.” With her father no longer able to earn, the extended family tradition (so much a part of the Latin experience), kicked in, with her uncle helping economically, and her maternal grandmother providing the family with home raised chickens and vegetables grown in her garden.
“I learned a valuable lesson which left an indelible mark on my personal make-up. You stick together, no matter what befalls you—through the good and the bad!”
Some young folk have clear visions of what they want to be when they “grow up”, Sonia’s interests, however, cut a wide swath.
“I wanted to become a nun—and I wanted to become a police officer,” she laughs easily at the two extremes. But to this writer, the idea of service—helping others—was an undeniable thread that coursed through each. In hindsight, that Sonia would ultimately became an advocate and practitioner of healthy living makes absolute sense.
After high school, the athlete (she was active in volleyball, basketball and Pelota al Cesto), thought seriously about pursuing a career in physical education.
Sonia ultimately did receive a degree in Education allowing her to teach both elementary and middle school.
For the following 13-years Sonia taught—her first five years working with children with special needs— before going on to teach 1st grade-through 8th in a myriad of disciplines including science, math and Spanish (to name a few).
In Ayurveda, health is defined as the dynamic state of balance between mind, body, and environment achieved through food (diet), herbs, spices, aromatherapy, gem therapy, color therapy and lifestyle among others. Ayurveda has all the six tastes: sweet, sour salty, bitter, astringent and pungent and if we have all of them in each meal we balance our body feeling satisfied physically, mentally as well as emotionally.
During this period Sonia married (she remained married for twenty-years). Her husband Horacio was an entrepreneur with his hands in everything. The two had a daughter, Barbara.
“Since I only taught four-hours a day, I was also very much involved in our other business ventures.”
They owned a Seltzer water business and bought the facility to bottle the water. With money made from that venture they purchased a bakery, and while it had previously been a success, the enterprising couple brought it up to the next level, and it became a massive hit.
Putting the cash flow to further use, they soon purchased more property and trucks for the transport of goods (a nod to her father). From there they added a shuttered gas station to their growing list of assets—needless to say, it too, became a smashing success!
It was during the bakery period, however, that Sonia got her first taste of working with food and she took to it—a natural.
“The gas station also had a restaurant attached and I ran that. I suppose those two endeavors marked the beginnings of my culinary enlightenment.”
Her journey hit a snag, however—in 1998 the marriage ended.
“I went back to teaching.”
But far from abandoning her newfound passion for cooking, Sonia supplemented her income by becoming a specialized Chef—cooking nutritional and healthy alternatives to the standard fare.
“I actually started cooking for people I owed money,” she laughs, “a barter of sorts.”
It was at this time that Sonia also became on-air talent on a sensual late night radio show that featured music, talk and personal improvement.
But it was the Internet that would ultimately change the course of Sonia’s life most dramatically. You see, Sonia met a paramour on-line (Gabriel).
“He was of Puerto Rican heritage, but born in California. At the time Gabriel was living in Florida, he asked me to move…”
The risk-taker did just that. She and Barbara moved to Dania, ultimately settling (with Gabriel) in Hollywood.
“Unfortunately, my English wasn’t refined enough for me to land a teaching job and so I fell back on my other talent—cooking!”
Sonia soon got a job in a restaurant and with her drive and skill moved up the food chain, ultimately enrolling in Cordon Bleu (where she received a degree, with honors, in the Culinary Arts).
“People were taking note of my skills and I was recommended as a personal chef for a well-heeled family in Coconut Grove.” (To this day, Sonia cooks for the widow!)
2008 brought on a startling revelation; Sonia had ballooned to a dangerous 350 lbs.
“That was that! I changed my lifestyle and began eating the healthy foods I was preparing for others.” She also began a workout regime, joining a local gym.
Sonia’s rapid weight reduction was not lost on her fellow gym enthusiasts. They began to question her. Once they found out that she’d created her own diet and prepared her own meals they wanted in!
“That’s when I started Healthy Kitchen, I picked up many clients and business began to boom.”
Now fully immersed in personal and physical health Sonia found meditation and experienced a dramatic change. She soon enrolled at the Chopra Center in California where she was first introduced to Ayurveda (“the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment and yogic breathing…”)
Sonia’s studies were far from over, however, and in a quest to further her understanding of Ayurveda, she moved to India. Upon her return in 2014 Sonia decided to get certified to practice Ayurveda in the United States. Needless to say, she not only received certification, but did so with an academic scholarship while graduating with honors.
And that’s when she opened the critically acclaimed Dosha Café and Juice Bar in Hallandale. Sonia is quoted below from and interview/review in a May 2015 New Times piece:
“In Ayurveda, health is defined as the dynamic state of balance between mind, body, and environment achieved thru food (diet), herbs, spices, aromatherapy, gem therapy, color therapy and lifestyle among others. Ayurveda has all the six tastes: sweet, sour salty, bitter, astringent and pungent and if we have all of them in each meal we balance our body feeling satisfied physically, mentally as well as emotionally.”
Latinarrific salutes Sonia Tigero