Michael Wards Austin Artisan

Cancer Survivor Becomes Healing Chef

A man’s journey of surviving cancer to become a healing chef and passionate inspiration for wellness. 

Are you on a path because it feels like the one you ‘should’ be taking? Do you recall a vision of what you thought success looked like and that is the road you now follow? Do you feel fulfilled? Is every morning a blessing? If the answer is no, ask yourself a question… Am I living my life from a fearless place or am I stuck based on my preconceived ideas of what I think my life is supposed to be?

Every day is a new start, yet for many of us it takes a crisis to wake us up to our blessed life.

Introducing Michael Wards, owner of The Austin Artisan, cancer survivor, and banker turned healing chef. Michael, like many of us, was following his idea of what he thought would bring him happiness. He was in financial sales and coveted the life of a fancy suit and all that he thought came with it. Except life had other plans for him. At the age of 36, he was diagnosed with cancer. In that terrible moment, he had a choice; keep going in the same destructive pattern or turn down an uncertain highway. He chose the road less traveled. In doing so, he discovered his heart and his passion.

Life will always give subtle clues to redirect you to your highest good. When we don’t listen the hints become louder and louder until sometimes they shout. The audible moment that couldn’t be ignored for Michael is when he found himself facing chemotherapy alone, sick, and scared. He refers to these moments as “significant course correction… if you can view your life on a map it is always a major event that results in the 90-degree turn”.

Michael for many years knew that he needed to make a change. He had become “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. He recalls eating fast food and burning the candle at both ends. In the lonely moments of illness, Michael found himself soul searching. Because it is often our most painful times when our prayers are answered, days after completing his last cancer treatment, Michael met a holistic chiropractor, Dr. Tenesha. She became his love and the next step on his path to healing. Michael tells me that Tenesha became the “example of what healthy looks like”. Two months into their relationship, as Michael was still healing from the impact of cancer treatment, his love suggested they begin a 21 day cleanse to detox the chemicals that were wreaking havoc on Michael’s system. Tenesha moved into his apartment for three weeks and together they began the process of healing with food. Michael recalls clearly understanding for the first time how quickly food can empower you. As his body released a lifetime of habits, he recalls the emotional challenge of detoxification and the euphoria that he felt as the burdens were released.

Because no journey is ever a straight line, and lasting change happens over time, Michael had found his life partner and discovered the joy of healing food, yet after cancer treatment had returned to his banking career. Once again, life had to turn up the volume and two weeks into moving in with Tenesha he was fired from his job. He was also faced with another choice. Michael and Tenesha were scheduled to leave for a trip to Hawaii yet Michael no longer had an income! He had an option to live from fear or joy. He was tired of living from fear and knew that if you “live from the standpoint of abundance, the universe will provide”. And that is exactly what happened! The happy couple chose to take their trip to Hawaii and to this day smile at the memory of such a beautiful experience.

When Michael returned home, he knew that his career must now match the passion of his heart. No longer could they be separate. He began asking himself what he loved doing. Given the choice what does he do everyday? He adored gardening, experimenting with recipes, and creating delicious healing food. Michael made the decision to attend culinary school and has not looked back. He has since launched a successful catering company in Austin, Texas and is adored by the guests he serves so tastefully. Michael focuses on sourcing from local farms and passionately describes the joy of seasonal menus, microgreens, and even edible flowers. Michael embraces the gluten free and dairy free requirements of many of his clients. His no sacrifice delicious food is even served on environmentally conscious plates! Michael creates dishes for his customers ranging from a little boy with Lyme and food allergies to a decadent farm to table dinner party for eighty people. “I manage dietary restrictions without compromise”, he tells me. If you don’t believe it, give him a call and ask for his gluten free oven fried chicken or the steamed artichokes that inspired the love of his wife.Michael and Tenesha Wards

Michael and Tenesha now have a baby daughter. They lead by example, and from them, their child will learn about love, healing, and the power of food as medicine.

“I am grateful. I do what I love. I am here. I have arrived”. Powerful words from a joyously healed man.

What can you learn from Michael’s experience? Ask yourself the following questions.

How are you being guided to a more fulfilling life?

What gratitude are you offering to the world?

Are you making decisions from joy or from fear? (LoveSelf hint: If it feels light it is your truth. Fear or a lie feels heavy).

Your body speaks. What is it saying? What one choice can you make today that feels good in your body?

Michael has shared with us his recipe for Apricot Pork Stew. Enjoy!

Rachel Kahn
Founder at LoveSelf

Rachel Kahn is the founder of LoveSelf, a gluten free paleo wellness magazine dedicated to helping you discover your Happy Belly, Loving Heart, and Inspired Life. Rachel began studying holistic health and nutrition over a decade ago and attributes her own healing to lessons in body nurturing choices. Rachel is highlighting inspiring people healing with the power of real food and self-love.


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