Tonya Papanikolov

Tonya Papanikolov is a plant-based chef, health consultant and founder of the well woman. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
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01    Nature

Many of my intimate moments with nature this month actually happened virtually which is sad to say but thus is the reality of February in Canada. Someone I love very much spent their month in India. I was sent images everyday. breathtaking beauty and sorrow both at once. Sunsets. Sunrises. Hands. Dirty feet. Rice farmers. Wise eyes. Tired stomachs. Colors that only come to me in dreams. Boulders with faces. Waxing crescents. Pollution and poverty. Life is not always easy but there is always beauty grounded in the struggle. It will always be hard and it will always be beautiful. the sun rises and sets each day and we decide to show up for it or not.

02    Object (old)

A curious little circular sticker that you put on your phone to block EMFs. My dad bought it for me. The sticker has a hologram and microprocessor in it which is neat. it redistributes the charge emitted from your iPhone to the microprocessor, instead of sending the charge to your body. the microprocessor then uses the charge to cause a transformation of the field in the form of a hologram - a space-time matrix made up of regularly alternating maxima and minima.

And an early birthday gift, a dehydrator which is a little obnoxious in my small kitchen but i’m happy to finally have my own. i make plant-based cheeses and so having the dehydrator is helpful if not necessary.

03    Object (new)

I was reacquainted with almost all of my possessions this month. Not that i own very much. But after having been away from my apartment for 5 months, I moved back in. I rediscovered the perfection of my firm mattress, my collection of gem stones and minerals, old handwritten notes/photos and my favorite Japanese knife that was packed away. I’ve also spent a lot of time getting rid of and donating old and unused objects, clothing, furniture- which is extremely satisfying. A pre-spring object and space cleanse.

04    Surprise

I surprised myself this month in my own ability to use my discretion and intuition to say no to an opportunity which was a great one but one inherently rooted in the patriarchal system. I didn’t feel my work was being valued fairly by a man and yet there was an expectation and inference that i should accept it because it was a good experience. I was surprised at how quickly i knew the answer. and the answer didn’t come from my mind but rather the visceral response in my body. It was like a cellular 'hell no.' A tidal wave of gut feelings. Saying no is scary. Saying no to money is scary. Turning down an opportunity can be uncomfortable but maintaining my soul and defining my own value has allowed for a trust and confidence that i wasn’t expecting. Turning down this opportunity allowed space to invite the right ones in.
We are trained to do what we are told. Trained to take any good opportunity that comes our way. To sit and follow instructions. It’s indoctrinated in us from a young age. Definitely a construct I challenge myself to dismantle. And to quote Jessa Crispin here whose work I’ve been reading, "It’s very much that thing of asking for a seat at the table instead of just fucking smashing that table to pieces."

05    Encounter

Having coffee with a stranger at 7am before heading into the kitchen i’ve been working at. I struck up conversation as his glasses began to fog up. I love it when that happens to people. I missed my streetcar twice but enjoyed some friendly morning banter.

06    Night Out

It probably happens like 4 times a year where i stay out until 5am. But those nights are always spontaneous and hilarious and I don’t pass them up because they are mega amounts of fun. It involved a beautiful dilapidated room, kittens, organic and bio-dynamic wine which was too warm (that didn’t stop anyone), lentils, sleep pods, dance moves and a failed attempt to sauna. It was my first time out in months. I’ve been working a lot lately and winter hibernation usually gets the best of me.

07    Day Out

I walked over to a neighborhood general store to pick up some hummus. I do prefer to make my own but did not have any chickpeas soaked and when cravings call, one must act fast. As i exited the shop and turned the corner, i looked up, gasping so loud that strangers nearby took notice. The moon and I, locking eyes through tree branches in the sky. It was dusk. The moon was full to the ordinary eye but i knew it was 11/12th’s the way there. Dusk is my favorite hour for moon viewings.

08    Time Alone

I spend so much time alone it’s hard to choose a moment. I had a quiet Friday night to myself at the beginning of the month. It was the full moon lunar eclipse in Leo. Everything felt heightened and tense and i needed to retreat. I wrote and read and had some intensely vivid dreams. my subconscious was very active.

09    Time With A Friend

A Saturday afternoon with my dear friend Lauren, who absolutely mesmerizes me. It was the first real day of spring. You know the ones where everyone and their dog comes out of hiding and they’re wearing sandals and drinking iced coffees. You can’t blame anyone, seasonal affective disorder is very real. anyway, she was painting a moon mural at a studio near my house. I walked to the studio in a wool coat and when I got there I was sweating. We almost immediately and instinctively took our shirts off, cranked up the music, opened the windows and danced in the beautiful and empty studio space. I’ve learned more than i can describe from this woman. She is someone who lifts others up around her. She’s a florist and a painter. She is very talented and instills strength and clarity in me.

010    Movie / TV / Book

movie: Noma: My Perfect Storm. There is a farmer in one scene who I just adore. Ie aggressively shoves a bunch of foliage into his mouth and eats it. And then he grabs the big bag of greens and sniffs it with such intention where you know he’s not even trying to smell it he’s trying to become it. He does all of it with such vigor and god i love it when people do things with vigor.

book: 1) a new book on plant-based cheeses. 2) Native Harvests: American Indian Wild Foods and Recipes 3) The Course of Love by Alain De Botton, which is charming and poignant:

"We believe we are seeking happiness in love, but what we are really after is familiarity. We are looking to re-create, within our adult relationships, the very feelings we knew so well in childhood and which were rarely limited to just tenderness and care. The love most of us will have tasted early on came entwined with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his or her anger, or of not feeling secure enough to communicate our trickier wishes.

How logical, then, that we should as adults find ourselves rejecting certain candidates not because they are wrong but because they are a little too right—in the sense of seeming somehow excessively balanced, mature, understanding, and reliable—given that, in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign and unlearnt. We chase after more exciting others, not in the belief that life with them will be more harmonious, but out of an unconscious sense that it will be reassuringly familiar in its patterns of frustration.”

011    Creative Act

Designing menus for dinners, creating recipes for a job. I worked on a pop-up dinner with a friend and we just sat one night bouncing ideas off each other about how to respect carrots, how to make lichen edible and how not to food poison our guests with raw fish from Ontario lakes. I work alone a lot and as much as I love the freedom and solitude that brings, It was amazing to collaborate and bring our minds together. We created a 9 course dinner with dishes called “respect the carrot,” and “things from the forest” with a focus on wild Canadian ingredients available to us in February.


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India taken by Mark Sommerfeld

India taken by Mark Sommerfeld

old notes and photos on a wall in my apartment

old notes and photos on a wall in my apartment

Some of the plant cheeses I've been developing for a restaurant

Some of the plant cheeses I've been developing for a restaurant

Still from Noma: My Perfect Storm

Still from Noma: My Perfect Storm

Canadian ingredients I sourced for a dinner pop-up. Lichen, sweet fern and sumac berries.&nbsp;

Canadian ingredients I sourced for a dinner pop-up. Lichen, sweet fern and sumac berries.