The kitchen is considered the heart of any home, and at Paradigm Malibu, Executive Chef Claudine Lamarre was known as “the heart of the kitchen.”
“She loved her food and showed love to us through her food,” said Lucy Nguyen, Paradigm’s Program Director of Meadows.
After 13 years of working with the founders of Paradigm, Claudine is leaving her position, and “will be so missed,” Lucy said. “It’s hard to describe her in words.”
Claudine was born in Provence, France into a family of chefs. Following in the tradition of her family, she learned the ways of cuisine at home, and at age 16, enrolled in l’école hotellière de Paris – a school specializing in the culinary arts.
At Paradigm Malibu, Claudine specialized in Mediterranean-style cooking in addition to many European culinary traditions. She routinely designed vegetarian, vegan, kosher and other specialized meals to meet the needs of each adolescent. She also worked with all teen rehab participants to help teach the value of healthful eating.
“She’s had such an incredible life and she’s still so humble and grateful with the way she carries herself,” Lucy said. “I think anyone who’s around her can’t help but feel how special she is.”
Dr. Jeff Nalin, Chief Clinical Officer at Paradigm Malibu, remembers when he and Cole Rucker, Founder and CEO, first stepped out on their own, and “envisioned a place that was less clinical and more homey.”
“Claudine was in charge of the kitchen, which is such an important part of that, because it’s where people are drawn to and spend time,” Dr. Nalin said. “She was the perfect ambassador…this loving, kind, caring mom and grandma figure for people that made food with lots of love and care, and it set a real tone.”
For 13 years full-time, Claudine made lunch and dinner for up to 30 people each day, “and she was always looking out for the kids and staff and making sure people were eating,” Dr. Nalin said.
Claudine’s positive presence was infused into Paradigm Malibu’s home from the start.
“When you walk into a house, and there’s something cooking that smells amazing in the kitchen, it’s the first place people go,” Dr. Nalin said. “And whenever new people would meet us for the first time, there was Claudine – this sweet, happy French woman saying hello to them, offering them food. Claudine set the tone for this warm, loving place. She was a big part of making that happen.”
Claudine’s optimism was also contagious.
“Whenever anything changed in life, she went into it smiling, like it was a new adventure,” Dr. Nalin noted. “She came to our house like that, and she’s going to her new home in that same vein.”
He added that Claudine is “irreplaceable,” and will be deeply missed.
“We’re going to do our best to move on and wish her the best of luck,” he said. “But she’s not someone who will be able to be fully replaced.”