In 2014, Irina Skoeries was struck by an autoimmune disease that inflamed her entire body and had no conventional cure. “I couldn’t walk or drive without pain from the pressure,” she explained. “I stood in my kitchen and remember the moment that I thought, ‘I am going to heal.’”
She removed sugar and gluten from her diet, got better, and started The Dancing Chef, a meal-delivery business that’s focused on anti-inflammatory cuisine. “Sometimes I think I’m lucky that the inflammation came, because it could have been much worse,” said Skoeries, who learned from the experience that “you can make delicious, amazing food that also increases peace in the body.”
Though not professionally trained in the kitchen, Skoeries has been surrounded by food her entire life. “I grew up in Europe and worked in a lot of high-end restaurants,” said the German-raised private chef who cooks for families in Montecito. “I’m like a sponge when it comes to food.” She currently makes her meals out of a commercial kitchen but one day hopes to open a café of her own.
Here are some of The Dancing Chef’s favorite offerings.
GoGo Cleanse & Smoothie: This six-day food cleanse doesn’t rely on juice, like so many others. “You just eat very, very clean,” said Skoerie, whose nickname is GoGo. “You give your body a rest for six days. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are delivered, and you can choose what you want to eat when — no fruit, nuts, dairy, soy, or grains. It’s the very basic version of what healed me.” The GoGo Smoothie features romaine, spinach, avocado, mint, and a bit of stevia, “all pureed,” she said, “for the texture.”
Norman’s Chicken: Skoeries named this one after a customer. “It’s a coconut chicken dish, and I don’t cook with grains, so all my foods are naturally gluten free,” she said. “But it’s not just about gluten-free cooking. You need to make sure those starches don’t spike your blood sugar.”
Olivia’s Pot Au Chocolate: People are in love with this dessert. “It’s made with stevia-sweetened chocolate and coconut milk,” she said. “But these sweets, they are a treat. You still don’t want to have those too often.”