Inside with: Shelley Kleyn Armistead


Shelley’s lived many lives all over the world, she now calls the Malibu beach shack she shares with her sons, and much loved antique furniture, home. Her career in hospitality includes The River Cafe, Soho House and she currently presides as COO and partner for the Gjelina empire. From the moment I met her, she was someone I wanted to get to know more; her mind is fast, witty and generous, a lot like her spirit. Her deep commitment to shared experiences, storytelling and honesty, acts as her North Star, and one I’ve found deeply inspiring over the years. I hope you do too.

How are you feeling?

This is a challenging one for me to answer right now, primarily because I feel guilty that I feel so good. Isn’t that strange, to feel bad that you feel good, because a lot of other people are not feeling great. I have found myself needing to downplay it. I feel inspired, happy and grateful right now.

Having to shutter Gjelina, GTA & MTN and furlough 300 staff was a very heartbreaking space to be in 6 weeks ago, and then shortly after my business partner contracted Covid, and so we closed our only operating business Gjusta, for 14 days. During that time I had to go through the process of being tested, reimagining how we could make Gjusta better as a market when we were ready to open, moving Gjusta Goods to online shipping only, finding non-profit funding (I found an angel donor) to bring our Gjelina kitchen team back in to cook meals for out of work restaurant workers, working with the GTA team to come back in a smaller and sweeter capacity, and getting excited about bringing a pop up into the existing MTN space, all while rewriting my values and goals around the philosophy of hospitality. All with a very, very reduced team to help me make it happen. I do thrive in a crisis and am very solution driven, but I move fast, so I am incredibly grateful that my team kept me grounded and in check.

While I was waiting for my test results it was a dedicated practice to staying calm. I had to test negative to see my kids again, and had not seen them for the prior 2.5 weeks as we had been working hard to shut down our properties, and with their father on furlough, it meant that he could dedicate time to them and a new way of schooling.

The day before I got results was my lowest, I definitely started thinking that I was never going to see my boys again. You see I was born with very compromised lungs, and so the chances are potentially devastating if I get Covid, I am also aware that this belief was being largely highlighted by the press, and is the opinion of the medical community. Byron Katie’s teachings have gotten me through all of this, two of my favorite friends, Ally Bogard and Ali Taekman introduced me to her on the exact same day, so I knew there was a reason. The simple question ‘Is it true’ ‘Do I know it to be true?’ has come in handy more times during the past 8 months, both through our partnership restructure, and now during Covid. When I asked myself did I know for sure that if I got Covid, it would go to my lungs in a very bad way, and potentially result in loss of life? I couldn’t answer that it would definitely happen so I let go and doubled down on self-trust.

The irony is I did get my annual walking pneumonia in the exact same week, boy was that I lesson in self-trust, in the power of my own cumulative knowledge of nutrition and homeopathic teachings, and defining my support system. I knew what it was, I know how to deal with it, but I absolutely had x rays to confirm. I focused on a lung health practice with my yoga teacher, which I did with her online 3 times a week, my herbal protocol, infrared, and tons of broths with enough turmeric and whole garlic to take down a village of vampires. The minute I got my negative results my boys came home and I continued to work at home while homeschooling them, which I absolutely loved. The blessing of my work keeping my body and mind moving through all of this has been the hugest gift of all of this. My situation is unique to other's experience. I will never be able to be unified with others in their emotional struggle because I haven’t experienced it. I can care for them, send them food, check in, but I don’t have the same connection to this experience, and that isolates me a little from my community in some way, which has been an interesting feeling to feel.

Photo by: Tiana Petrullo

What are you doing to keep yourself well right now? 

Ozone, very high doses of liposomal vitamin C, I know it will be controversial but right now I am on 6000mg a day, over three doses for 4 weeks but not on my ozone days, infrared, morning sunlight, beach walks (my beach is residents only so I am lucky), yoga, Seed probiotics, Zinc, herbs.

What are you cooking?

Tons of greens with turmeric and garlic every other day, I cook off whatever Max Dornbush our company purchaser sources from the farmer's market. Big Staub pots of greens which I then either add chicken broth, (Salt point seaweeds have been a great addition to my regular chicken broth) mung beans or use as a base for baked eggs for the boy's breakfast. I have multiple bowls a day. Kitchari always, and a big pot of dhal once a week which I add greens to. Slow cooked Pinquito beans. Nighttime snacks include strong cheddar cheese (Plymouth’s Hunter) with Activist Manuka honey & walnuts. 

Slow Cooked Pinquinto Beans:

I am not a good recipe follower so encourage feeling it out as you go! 


Rough chop 2 carrots, 1 onion & 2 celery, heat through gently till soft. 

Place whole chicken on top (use whole so that I can get multiple meals out of it), add 2 strips of Kombu, a handful of dried porcini, several branches of fresh thyme, couple of bay leaves & some peppercorns for good luck. Add water until top of bird is just covered.

Bring to boil and then take down to low heat for 4 hours, final hour medium - high heat to reduce. You can absolutely do it in less time, but I like to put it on first thing in the morning & forget about it. I have also done it in my slow cooker over night for 8 hours, but only when I don’t have time to get to it in the day.

Pinquinto beans are the sweetest, meatiest native bean to central California. After soaking them overnight & giving them a good rinse, I spoon the stock over them until there is about 2 inches of stock above the beans, add fresh sage and then cook them slowly. You may need to add another ladle or two as you go. They can take any where from 45-90 minutes depending on how high your heat is.

Once I have used the stock that I need, I pull the chicken off the bone, & mix it with lemon, lemon zest, a little white anchovy, capers & olive oil for my version of chicken salad. Great on warm toast.

Alternatively you can use the stock to cook off some lentils, add stock and the pulled chicken with a little salsa verde for a grounding chicken soup.

What are you listening to?

The Global News Podcast from the BBC World Service for my news once a day.

Desert Island Discs Podcast for pure escapism.

What are you watching?

I am not watching the news, I don’t have a TV, I didn’t grow up with one. From time to time I will watch a show on Hulu or Netflix, however if you put me in front of a TV show or movie, I would fall asleep straight away, in fact I have been known to use It for just that. It’s pretty homeopathic in concept, my mind moves fast all the time, if you put me in front of moving images, the two seem to cancel each other out. I watched the series Little Fires Everywhere, it took me three attempts to get through an episode because I have to go back to the point where I fell asleep. I love Kerry Washington in it.

What are you reading?

Curing the Incurable by Thomas LevyPhoto by: Gemma Ingalls

How are you keeping yourself calm?

An equal appreciation for what I am surrounded by, and for the realization of what I don’t need in my life, what a great time for purging. My teams are phenomenal, my boys are thriving, I have access to incredibly good food, my parents are well, my friends are loving, the sharing of their delicious cooking, beautiful art and funny home frustrations is lovely. I have also made more connections during this time of like-minded people coming out to care for each other. Life is good. I also stick to a routine, same time waking every day, same home care routine, same structure with my kids. I have found it very grounding.

Any other tips or words of comfort you would like to share?

Do what you know to be right, don’t do what you know to be wrong. This includes perpetuating fear. It is ok to feel everything, it is ok to acknowledge the highs and the lows, but it is not ok to actively not be in control of your language and respond to people’s emotions by creating more fear. People who are accustomed to building relationships by trauma bonding are out in full force right now. Call me, let's chat about solutions, let’s celebrate moments of good, and let's feed each other. Someone send me a loaf of KL’s bread PLEASE!

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