Cristy Kisner says her family’s life experiences appear to be divinely connected and healthy food is at the center of the blessings.
The healthy food Kisner prepares at Cristy’s Kitchen, the cafe-bakery that she owns with husband Sebastian Gracey in Roswell, became widely known after a difficult start two years ago. The couple opened the business in 2019 after moving from Peru with their five daughters, and just three months before the start of the pandemic.
In 2021, regular customer Brandon Stanton, the creator of the Humans of New York account on Instagram, shared the couple’s story with his 11 million followers at the time. The response to their struggles and healthy food offerings resulted in $1.2 million in donations for the family business, including from people who would drive from other states to meet Kisner.
She now has a new cookbook of gluten-free and dairy-free organic recipes titled, “Cristy’s Kitchen,” set to be released April 18. A book signing will be held at the cafe-bakery at 1066 Alpharetta Street on April 22, from noon to 4 p.m.
Food has “been a miracle in our life, medicine for both body and soul …” Kisner writes in the book.
Kisner’s passion for cooking was born in her native Peru, nearly 10 years ago, when she embarked on a search to find a remedy for her oldest daughter’s autoimmune disease, and later her youngest child’s celiac disease. Kisner researched and figured out how to use food as a supplement for medicine.
Kisner’s five daughters are ages 8-18. Julieta Gracey Kisner, 13, created the cookbook’s illustrations which accompany photography by Jimena Agois.
The cookbook is a guide to how Kisner approaches healthy eating for her family and the café-bakery menu, and also to help the reader discover ideal ingredients that suit their own body, she said.
“I encourage people to play and change the recipes,” Kisner said. “The most beautiful way to cook is to make the recipe your own version.”
The cookbook has options for vegan, vegetarian, paleo and autoimmune protocol diets. The beginning of the 320-page book includes 17 pages of descriptions of special ingredients such as acacia fiber and yacon — which Kisner describes as having anti-inflammatory properties — and where they can be purchased.
Stanton wrote the cookbook’s foreward. He says he met Kisner shortly after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and was suffering “frightening symptoms.” Stanton writes that he believes his body has been healed in many ways after having Kisner direct his diet, and he’s 50 pounds lighter.
The cookbook, which is published by William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins, states that Kisner’s advice and information should be used as a “supplement” and not in place of medical advice.
Many of Kisner’s foods such as pot pies, vegan cheeses and desserts can be shipped frozen across the U.S. through her website cristyskitchenga.com.
The chef says she has new food items that she’s creating and more recipes that she’s saving for her next cookbook.
Before Roswell, Kisner operated a bakery in Peru and penned a 2018 cookbook there called “Mi Cocina Saludable,” which translates to “My Healthy Kitchen.”
Kisner and Gracey have said they moved to Georgia on faith during a time when they were uncertain about their future. Gracey had recently recovered from a heart attack. In bankruptcy, he was ready to let go of the furniture manufacturing business he spent two decades growing.
Kisner said the couple’s spiritual faith has kept them moving forward and now they have a community of customers who relate to each other and discuss healthy eating options while casually dining at the cafe-bakery.
“It’s little steps,” Kisner said, of her new cookbook. “My mission is to help people. When I started it was difficult to find a pathway. If you are having a hard time, look at me. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”