Edible Bozeman

Integrative Chef Advocates Healing through Food Choices

Sitting in the sunshine in Cooper Park, Erin Hilgendorf motions toward the surrounding neighborhood as she describes her love for the local community. In the two years that she’s lived in Bozeman, she has already grown a thriving network of relationships through her work as an integrative practitioner  and private chef.

Hilgendorf works with her clients to create meal plans targeted to their specific needs, whether that’s a one-time consultation, in-home meal prep once a week, or preparing food for the freezer. With clients ranging from parents with newborns to the elderly, she describes a sense of pride in knowing that her work spans the human experience, improving health and quality of life at any stage.

Most people reach out to Hilgendorf because of food intolerances, gastrointestinal disease, fatigue, or symptoms related to a dysregulated nervous system, she says. As they work with her, they may find additional, indirect health benefits such as having more time to exercise, pursue their passions, or connect with family.

While growing up, Hilgendorf suffered from an array of chronic illnesses. After being diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome and celiac disease, she felt called to understand the relationship between our environment, food, and health. She decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in botanical science, then a holistic nutrition certification, and a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University.

“We can all be well; we just have to figure out what’s standing in our way.” —Erin Hilgendorf

“I’ve had to learn how to love myself through my own illnesses, and that gets transferred to how much compassion I have for my clients,” she says.

By combining health education with her varied life experiences—farming off-grid, developing nutrition plans, and working at an apothecary—Hilgendorf created her own niche when she began working as a integrative chef. “So often the process is testing, finding out what you can’t have, and then figuring out a plan to navigate all those things you can’t have,” she says. “My philosophy is, ‘Let’s figure out what we can have and let’s figure out how to celebrate food and make it fun again.’”

Hilgendorf sees her work as a form of creative expression, evidenced by the wide range of healing practices she is drawn to: She is also a wellness retreat chef, breathwork trainer, and is laying the groundwork for additional passion ventures including the opening of Bozeman Apothecary.

“We eat food all day, every day. Food is one of the most consistent medicines we give ourselves, and it can also be the thing that harms us,” she says. Through meals that she shares with clients, Hilgendorf observes how “something that was an illness or a diagnosis can slowly transmute and become where we find our creativity. … We can all be well; we just have to figure out what’s standing in our way.”

  • For more information, contact Erin Hilgendorf at hello@integrativechef.com.

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