Raised in Atlanta, young Amber Caudle would sit in the kitchen and watch her grandma cook and read her recipe cards. “I have the best memories of making cherry pies, pumpkin bread, meatloaf, her famous brown rice and tons of cookies,” Amber shares.
After her parents sent her to a weeklong culinary school for kids at age 10, she was hooked. As a teenager she jumped into the restaurant industry, taking on every position from dishwasher and busser to bartender and manager. After college, she moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, and worked under an Italian chef—falling in love with the beauty and simplicity of the cuisine and diving deeply into everything wine.
“Training in this kitchen pushed me to my limits every day,” she remembers. “I was the only woman in a male-dominated kitchen, and I was determined to make it.”
Photographed by Wonho Frank Lee
After three years, she moved to Los Angeles and worked as executive chef of Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach for a decade. During that time, she revisited Italy and ventured to Spain to enhance her expertise. “When I returned from Europe, I started to fuse my love for Spanish tapas and Southern Italian cuisine,” she says.
Chef Amber opened her first location of The Source Café in Hermosa Beach nine years ago during a critical time in her personal wellness. “I hit a breaking point with my health,” she says. “I was walking around feeling inflamed, tired, full of pain, addicted to sugar and caffeine, stressed, bloated, anxious and overall unhappy. I also knew I was losing my passion for the food I was cooking at the Med. It was time for a change.”
Once she addressed her unhealthy relationship with food, Chef Amber shifted her focus to the healing properties certain ingredients could bring into her life. “I knew in my soul that my food could help not only myself but also many others heal their bodies,” she says. “From this drive and determination, The Source was born.”
Chef Amber took inspiration from her love of Italian and Spanish cuisine and infused the dishes with healing superfoods. In the process, she eliminated gluten, dairy, processed sugar and vegetable oils. She also added options to the menu for different diets such as paleo, keto, vegan and no-sugar.
“I keep my cooking techniques clean and simple,” she explains. “My weekly creations are inspired by the farmers market and what is in season. I love introducing new options and substitutions for gluten and dairy, and showing that they are as satiating and delicious.”
Highlights include a fried chicken sandwich on a paleo bun with pickles and spicy aioli; gnocchi with braised lamb ragu and Brazil nut parmesan; and the much-loved paleo orange spiced cake with a sweet potato frosting and carob crisp. The beverage offerings include biodynamic and organic wines, local beers and organic kombucha.
Chef Amber will soon release her cookbook, Sexy Nourishing Food, followed by a second book, HUNGRY: Why I F*cking Eat, in early 2022. “This book is about my emotional relationship with food and how it is possible to form a healthy relationship with food, body and self,” she says. “I also am in the process of creating an online cooking show called Chef Amber’s Wholicious. Healthy food has such a bad stigma. It’s something I am determined and passionate about changing.”