From Strangers to Besties: How I Met Chef Abbey


From Strangers to Besties: How I Met Chef Abbey


I hosted my very first yoga retreat a little over a year ago and I’m coming up on my 6th and 7th one that are only two weeks apart. Of those soon to be 7 retreats, I’ve only hosted one without Abbey who we loving call “chef Abbey”.

I hosted my first retreat at a resort and we were only allowed to use their food service. It was overpriced, underwhelming and didn’t allow the flexibility in schedule that I desired. I try really hard to keep costs down and I really like having full control when I host, so I decided I would never host without a private chef that I trusted.


I was referred to someone by my dear friend and she signed on for the challenge but then about a month before the retreat date, she cancelled on me. I posted a cry for help on two private Facebook groups and Abbey and a few others reached out to me. Abbey was the most responsive and even agreed to come to my yoga class a few days later so that we could meet.

We talked for several hours after class and I instantly liked her. I had never tasted her food, but I didn’t care. Everything in my gut was telling me to go for it. I booked her flight the next day.


Abbey was scheduled to land in the Calgary airport with my bestie and co-host, Elise of Mod Bettie Portraits as well as my other bestie Sondra Vogel of Fight 2 Get Fit at 3 pm. Abbey and Sondra didn’t make it until 10 pm and Elise never made it out of Grand Rapids until the next day. They cancelled their first flight then got two of them to Denver for a ridiculous 12 hour layover that was also delayed by another hour. They also lost both Abbey’s and Sondra’s luggage for two full days.

Most people would have been tired, cranky, maybe emotional, but not Abbey (and Sondra). They were hungry and tired but still smiling when the finally arrived.

Abbey never missed a beat. I had to leave the next morning after breakfast to get the other guests (and there was a failed attempt to get there luggage) and she got all of the groceries and into the house we were renting and dove straight into preparing amazing food.


Her and Sondra wore most of my clothes (my pants are way to short for her) and the house had a washer and dryer, so we made it work. I truly don’t think it bothered her that much either.

She has continued to amaze me with her many talents, she can basically do anything. I’m serious, she makes the best food ever. She has made us packed lunches so that we can go on longer excursions during the day. She has cooked over an open fire. She always makes a European breakfast for our last meal together and uses all of the leftovers to makes creative dishes. We have had multiple guests with lots of food allergies and/or dietary restrictions and she handles everything with ease.

She’s incredibly talented, intelligent and efficient, but she’s also one of the kindest people I know. She has a big heart and wants to help people. I am so lucky to get to work along side of her and so grateful to call her my friend.


It’s not too late for you to spend a long weekend with chef Abbey and enjoy all of her delicious food and wonderful company! There are a few spots left for the Northport Retreat!

Images by Personal Branding Maven  Elise Kutt  at  Mod Bettie Portraits

Images by Personal Branding Maven Elise Kutt at Mod Bettie Portraits

My name is Anna VanAgtmael, and I am a certified yoga instructor with a passion for yoga, travel, and connecting with others.

I believe in trying everything once. My values lie in collecting memories over things. Though we desire adventure and authentic experiences, naturally our fear holds us back.

My ambition is to inspire and encourage you to unmask your fears and jump into the unknown.

Anna VanAgtmael | Yoga Enthusiast | Travel Designer