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Taking on My Inner Chicken So I Could Teach How to Spatchcock a Turkey

by Eliana Wittels
 ∙ Nov 23 ∙ 7 Min Read

If only I knew then what I know now, I could have extended the laugh a lot of months: that spatchcocking a turkey would make me ditch my inner chicken and get me exactly where I needed to be in life. I have Campowerment to thank.

Rewind about a year: to last September when I was registering for wedding gifts with my soon-to-be husband. I got a phone call, and the name Tammi (Campowerment CEO, my best friend’s mom) lit up my screen. My future was calling, and it came in the form of a Campowerment Expert invitation. Their Crew was inviting me — yes me! — to do a cooking demo at their November 2015 retreat in Malibu.

My smile was brighter than the North star. On the outside I was beaming, but the scaredy-cat inside of me was kicking. I was surprised, humbled, excited, and, honestly, really nerous to (finally) begin to travel down the path I had been working hard to pave for myself. See, most people wouldn’t think I get nervous to put myself out there and take risks. My big smile, loud laugh, and eccentric personality does a pretty good job at masking some of my insecurities, but — the chicken’s out of the bag — I’m human! I get scared sometimes!

I acknowledged that feeling and checked it against my “just go with it” attitude, knowing I was never going to get where I wanted if I didn’t start somewhere.

I began with this: Thanksgiving was right around the corner, and in preparing for it, everyone is always crunched for time. How about a holiday cooking demo focused on shortcuts so the Campowerment Campers could save time in the kitchen and get going on the good stuff: enjoying more family time?

The big-ticket item became spatchcocking a turkey. (Don’t laugh; it’s amazing!) Spatchcocking is when you remove the backbone and flatten out the breast of poultry.  The turkey not only cooks in half the time, but the skin gets nice and crispy all over while the meat stays juicy. (Don’t worry; I got you: the recipe is on my website here.)

I prepared as much as I could for my cooking demo: I wrote out cue cards, practiced on my family, and the night before even tested out a few of my jokes with my bunkmates. I went into that demo feeling excited, challenged, and ready to spatchcock a turkey like no one’s business.

Long story a little shorter: my demo was a hoot. My audience enjoyed themselves and savored every bite of the stuffed and spatchcocked turkey we had created. I was beaming with pride (to say the least) and a little relieved too. What lit a fuel under my butt and made me believe I was going down the right path were the rave reviews I got the rest of the weekend from the women who attended my demo. Even the ones who weren’t able to come told me how bummed they were to have missed it. And that all felt amazing.

But the biggest turning point for me was sitting in on one of the sessions that weekend with Marnie Nir, a Life Coach and Campowerment Expert who led a Workshop about the sneaky things we do to stand in our own way and derail our big dreams. In her session, we were to answer what we would want to go for most in this world if fear  wasn’t holding us back. Once I finally was able to verbalize my wants of having my own cooking brand — a website, a show, and/or other ways to express my passion and special sauce, I could teach people how to not only cook, but to also have fun while chop’n and roast’n in the kitchen, too.

According to Marnie, the fear that sounded off was my own voice in my head could be considered either a “chicken” or a “brat,” as I made excuses as to why I didn’t have these things in my life. Maybe it was all the poultry talk that weekend, but mine seemed a lot more like a chicken. But I put that chicken aside and was overwhelmed by the support of the women in our group, as they so passionately believed in my abilities. I left that session feeling empowered and wrote down exactly what I was feeling, along with next steps. If they all believed I could do it, and all they saw was my first-time demo, then what the heck was the issue standing in the way of ME believing in me?

I left Campowerment decided. It was time to take a baby step towards reaching my ultimate dream. In December, I started to build my own website, with tidbits of my epic journey through my adventures of learning how to cook in culinary school (I called them my “Culinary Chronicles.”) Then I put the website on hold for a few months as I geared up for my wedding (in March). After the wedding, I began working at a deliciously adorable cooking studio where I now teach children’s cooking classes. It was all starting to come together, and each step of the way I felt a little less scared. 

BUT I would work on my website every now and then, before finding myself chickening out, asking the cooking studio for more hours and more recipes to write…until it all just clicked. Why was I not focusing on writing recipes for myself or for my own website? Why was I not uploading and editing and acting as the creative director of my own brand instead of waiting around for someone else to hand me work? Then I ditched that chicken once and for all and began to work obsessively on getting my website to exactly where it needed to be in order to launch! I had some friends along the way guide me and give me pointers, but for the most part I built, designed, edited, recipe developed/tested, did the food styling and photography on my own, and even marketed my whole website concept—The Whole ELchilada.

Late this past summer, I launched that site and haven’t looked back since, besides thinking back on the November camp and how it allowed me to squash my old habits and open up to new possibilities. I created my own brand and saw a demand in personal cooking classes, so I’ve branched out as a personal chef instructor teaching the home cook or that want-to-be chef their way around the kitchen.

I am so clear and so excited about my goal of tickling taste buds and inspiring people to whip out their cutting boards and get chop’n, all while making them laugh and teaching them a thing or two about life and the pursuit of the best darn sauce. If it weren’t for Campowerment, I would still be sitting, waiting, and wishing for life to happen, instead of grabbing it and making it happen on my own. I realized if you don’t try, you’ll never know the possibilities and opportunities that are bound to ensue, so get on up and get to chasing those dreams!


Check out Eliana’s Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe here and all else will be gravy this Thanksgiving 😉

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