Linda Soper-Kolton came to Catskill Animal Sanctuary in 2012 as a guest chef, intending to teach Compassionate Cuisine cooking classes for a season before returning to her vegetarian and vegan café in Fairfield, Connecticut. Lured by the magic of the sanctuary and the urgency of the mission, Linda stayed to lead and grow the culinary program, inspiring and educating with love, patience, and delicious food. Almost 8 years later, she continues to cook, teach, write, and kiss pigs. Unlike many chefs, Linda did not grow up at the knee of a family matriarch in the kitchen. Instead, her early memories of mealtime included mashed potatoes made with milk powder and potato flakes, Friday’s clean-out-the-fridge “spaghetti surprise,” and a lot of liver. Linda learned to cook out of sheer necessity. In the humble kitchen of her first apartment, Linda spent nights baking, roasting, and simmering for roommates, coworkers, and anyone else she could find. With “food is love” as her mantra, cooking and feeding became her way of nurturing and connecting with others. In midlife, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a chef when she graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute. Combining her chef’s training with certification as a holistic health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Linda is driven to love and influence others through compassionate, plant-based eating. When she’s not in the kitchen creating, she’s probably looking for her glasses.