Rhona Bowles Kamar has more jobs than I can count. With her husband Ramsi, she is the chef/owner of Ramsi’s Cafe on the World, and they also own and operate Raising Hope Organic Farm, located in east Jefferson County. She also is a writer and has three children.
What do you do for a living?
I grow, cook, serve, photograph and write about food for a living!
I operate Ramsi’s Café on the World and Raising Hope Organic Farm with my husband, Ramsi. And I recently published a cooking web site, www.hopefarmtestkitchen.com, which is focused on the instruction of cooking with highly nutritious ingredients.
When did you discover that you had a talent for cooking?
It’s not a talent, it’s a passion! I am an obsessively driven culinary student for life. It started in my grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen, on a wobbly little stool, cutting out biscuit dough. I was three years old. I’ve been playing in the kitchen ever since, and from the beginning, much of my experimentation has inspired dishes on our menu. Eventually, I took on the role of menu development. Through the encouragement of my husband over the years, I began to study cooking from a scientific viewpoint and became more actively involved in the operation of the kitchen. If I didn’t have other responsibilities, I would never leave the kitchen!
What is your favorite thing to cook? What is your favorite thing to eat?
It changes constantly. One day I might be making raw chocolate raspberry tartes; the next day, beef brisket. I live in a constant state of recipe development and study of food, from a cultural as well as a health perspective. I love everything, even the foods I choose not to eat. Bacon, for example. I haven’t eaten it in over 20 years. But I know it’s good.
You grew up on a farm. Do you feel as though you have come full circle?
Yes! In many unexpected ways! I literally grew up playing in the woods or in the barn all day, but I fell in love with city life during college. My favorite vacation is still smack in the middle of downtown, any major city.
But the farm has reconnected me in surprising ways to my upbringing. I really wasn’t paying attention to any of it growing up–except when the strawberries were ready. I never understood why my mother would stress over the tomatoes coming in or putting up the corn until now. There is a sense of urgency that must be taken seriously when crops are ready for harvest.
To be involved in a food’s life span from seed to plant, to creating dishes for customers is a dream for a professional cook. We are overwhelmed with joy with each new sprout or new birth (we have three baby goats this spring). It is all very romantic. Even the hard work. I think about my grandfather every day and his life sustaining the farm.
What is the hardest part about your job? What is the easiest?
The hardest part of my job is not having enough time to focus on any one thing for a long period of time. As a family-owned restaurant and now farm, we juggle so many different aspects of our business every day and we love each one of them. So quieting the creative urge when it calls in favor of paperwork is difficult. But on the flip side, we have amazing employees who make it easier. And I take advantage of our carry-out service very often!
How has having Raising Hope Farm changed your life and your family’s life?
One of my favorite teachers, the late Debbie Ford, said that whenever you create a vision for your life that is bigger than yourself, everything else in your life will rise up to meet that vision. The farm has done that for us. We decided to pursue the organic certification because we knew we wanted to be held to a higher standard in our methods. That forced us to look around at other aspects of our life and make sure that they were in line with our vision for the farm. For example, we made the decision to replace the Styrofoam in our carry-out service with recyclable aluminum, a move that was long overdue. And it has influenced us to recreate our personal lifestyle in a sustainable way. We are healthier overall because of it. It is an evolution in the process.
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
Power naps. An irreverence to my TO DO list. Letting others do what they do best. Staying focused on my purpose in life. Daily hugs from my 8 year old. Not answering the door or phone sometimes.
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
To value my own perspective.
Who is your mentor?
I have a group of women whom I call My Gurl-rus. Some are personal friends and some are writers/leaders whose work I follow. Each one of these dynamic women has inspired me in various ways.
Hearing the story of Kris Carr (“Crazy Sexy Cancer”) literally changed my life one day about two years ago. Her fortitude through her struggle with cancer inspired me to recommit myself to being a vegetarian and to dedicate my life to teaching people to cook with healthy ingredients. Because of her, I also enrolled and finished the course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to further my knowledge of nutrition and all the other aspects that make up a vibrant, healthy life. That experience was also life changing.
I am blessed to have so many people in my life, including my husband, mother and sister, who are using their individual gifts to make this a healthier world.
What is best advice you have received in business?
Hone in on where your passion and skill can be of the highest service to your business and to the world. Then trust the members of your team to do what they do best, freeing you to do what you do best.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Some days I fantasize about working in a little clothing boutique where everything is orderly and quiet. I am not a fashion person at all, but I think I would enjoy the Zen of that environment.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Even though I am a vegetarian I love to clean and prepare meat. One of my favorite jobs in the kitchen is cleaning beef tenderloin. When we took our first flock of chickens to the slaughterhouse, I cried when my husband sent me a video. But I spent the next day with our prep cooks happily butchering the meat to be cooked.
What is your favorite place to go eat?
I love either hole-in-the wall ethnic restaurants with truly authentic dishes, or upscale restaurants where the chef has taken inspiration from authentic ethnic places and interpreted them in a clean and modern way.
Where do you like to shop?
For clothes? Macy’s. For books? Carmichael’s, next door. They get most of my spending money. For food? Rainbow Blossom.
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
A 10 minute power nap every day, propped up in my favorite chair. Never lying down! And good shampoo.
What is your weakness?
Dark chocolate, of course!
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
I love to have a glass of red wine (or two) at the bar at 21C and then walk over to the Kentucky Center for the Arts and watch the Louisville Orchestra. First row of the first balcony is my favorite spot to absorb the movement and sound. I never connected to the sound of the orchestra until I watched the movement of the musicians.
I also love our downtown waterfront, the new walking bridge, the playgrounds. It’s a great place to escape with the kids right before sunset.
Three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends):
Green juice, chocolate and sunshine
What are you reading right now?
The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte and Taste Buds and Molecules, by Francois Chartier
What are three of your “favorite” things right now (can be anything).
Roasted oils, like walnut and hazelnut, peppercorns from around the world, and my new stainless steel pepper and salt grinders: a Mother’s Day gift from my husband. They’re sexy.
Rhona is the author of www.hopefarmtestkitchen.com which is focused on the instruction of cooking with highly nutritious ingredients and was recently chosen for the Martha Stewart Circle of Blogs. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky and recently graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Many thanks to Adele Reding for her gorgeous pictures. Adele was a real trooper on this photo shoot, walking through the farm in high heeled boots! Please visit her website at www.adeleredingphotography.com.