Chef Creates Functional Nutrition Program
You wouldn’t believe it now, but the founder of cordellFit – “a functional lifestyle” – got his start making white gravy and French toast in his grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen.
Jason Cordell Beard looks much too fit these days to imagine that he once craved white gravy and French toast (not at the same time). But he got his first taste of cooking those treats, which eventually led to an interest in nutrition, in that farmhouse near Novice. Since then, Jason and his wife, Joy, have turned that interest into a career.
“I’ve always been passionate about nutrition and health and lifestyle,” Jason said.
Last October, the Beards formally added cordellFit to their cordell’s gourmet food store, bistro, and coffee shop on Buffalo Gap Road. Informally people had been asking questions for a long time about nutrition and lifestyle. A statement at the top of the cordellFit website tells you immediately what cordellFit is and isn’t.
“Not a program, a lifestyle! Not one size fits all, uniquely designed for you!!”
Forming a Fit Mindset
From those days as a six-year-old learning to make white gravy and French toast, Jason developed interests in cooking and preventive medicine. After graduating from Wylie High School in 1995, Jason entered Hardin- Simmons University with the intention of becoming a doctor. Instead, he earned a degree in business administration in 1999, which has served him well.
He and Joy, a 1996 Cooper High School graduate, opened cordell’s in River Oaks Shopping Center May 2, 2011, and moved into their space on Buffalo Gap Road in 2017. It was also in 2017 that Jason suffered kidney failure, resulting in an 11-day hospital stay.
“In all honesty,” he said, “I probably should not have lived.”
Doctors were unable to diagnose what caused the kidney failure, but it made Jason, who will turn 46 in June, more mindful of nutrition, which eventually led to the opening of cordellFit. Jason did not have cancer, but he underwent chemotherapy in an effort to save his life. That experience made him understand what cancer patients experience and how a healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and physical movement, can help.
He was so interested in the subject that he now is a Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor, Board Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner, and Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. Those certifications come from the American Association of Natural Wellness Practitioners and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. A statement on his website explains:
“As the chef, I am on a mission to constantly learn how food is made and where it comes from before we eat it. As a Functional Nutrition Practitioner, my mission is to research and learn what role food plays in our health and wellbeing.”
Jason didn’t become a doctor as he once imagined, but today doctors refer patients to him. They include people with autoimmune deficiencies, diabetes, heart problems, patients undergoing chemotherapy, and post-surgery patients.
How cordellFit Works
The initial interview, held in cordell’s store, is free. Jason and the prospective client determine whether they are a fit. His current clientele includes people ranging in age from 18 to over 80. In the first interview, Jason gets medical and genetic histories, lifestyle pattern, and a list of symptoms. From there, he develops a nutrition and lifestyle routine that is meant to be forever. A section on the cordellFit website explains:
“My goal is to help change lives through nutrition and lifestyle changes that enable my clients to live healthy and well balanced lives.”
Most likely, that will mean beginning with baby steps and building toward larger goals. For example, Jason helps people wean themselves off sodas by suggesting they eliminate one a day from their regular intake, building on the initial success. For sedentary people, he recommends setting a timer for 30-minute intervals as a reminder to get up and walk around. He suggests not waiting until you’re thirsty to drink water. Also, he recommends looking for good sources of healthy fat like extra virgin olive oil and grass-fed beef and chicken. From the initial small steps, Jason will build an individual lifestyle plan.
“It’s going to be tailored to what they need,” he said. As for the nutrition part, it would be hard to find a better place to shop than in the cordell’s store. The store sells spices, vinegars, oils, teas, coffees, specialty items, and fresh eggs from B&C Farms. Products are bought locally as much as possible.
Jason, Joy, and the crew put together nutritional salads made with organic greens, sandwiches with bread that is made in-house, soups, and desserts. Tomato soup is served every day, and other soups are created as daily specials. The store is closed Sundays and Mondays. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The store is closed completely one week in January and one week in August so that the entire crew can take a vacation.
As an added plus, cordell’s partners with local agencies such as Camp Able, Beyond Trafficking, Treehouse, Strength For Life, and the West Texas Rehabilitation Center through the Community Foundation of Abilene. Customers are given the option of adding 25 cents to their bill, which is matched by cordell’s, to benefit the nonprofit partners.
“Together we can help local organizations help our community,” a sign reminds customers.
What’s In a Name
Guests may wonder why the Beards chose the name “cordell” which is spelled with a lowercase “c” in their signage. It’s Jason’s middle name and a family name on his mother’s side. His great-grandfather was named James Cordell O’Neal and his grandfather was Johnnie Cordell O’Neal. His mother was Debbie O’Neal. It’s a name Jason is proud of.
“I wanted ‘Cordell’ on something,” he said.
Ever since Jason learned how to make his own French toast and white gravy, he’s been interested in the art of cooking and in nutrition. He spent a lot of time in his grandparents’ garden and kitchen. When he was in middle school, his mother started nursing school at Hardin-Simmons and his dad worked full time. Jason pitched in and started making dinners for the family, even creating his own barbecue sauce when he couldn’t find any in the kitchen.
Jason and Joy Beard have found a creative and successful way to turn that knowledge into a prosperous business. But more than that, they’ve found a way to combine a career with helping people build their own healthy lives.
“I like what we do,” Jason said. “We’ve kind of carved our own niche.”
6410 Buffalo Gap Rd, Suite B, Abilene, TX 79606 • 325-455-1524 • cordellfit.com
By Loretta Fulton
Photos Courtesy of cordellFit
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