Best-selling author lives ‘Act 3’

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Pamela Bieri

Power couple Diana von Welanetz Wentworth and Ted Wentworth have been inseparable, and recently turned the page to "Act 3" of their active lives.
 

I first met Diana von Welanetz Wentworth a few years ago when she was a celebrity chef demonstrator at the Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert. She was then living in Orange County, and as a fellow member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), our local chapter rallied around to support her demo at the event.

She’s the author of 10 award-winning books — from two Chicken Soup for the Soul titles to a romantic memoir, Send Me Someone, to Love Your Heart about heart-healthy choices.

Besides writing, she was co-host of “The New Way Gourmet” television series and co-founder of the Inside Edge Foundation for Education, which has hosted the world’s top speakers at weekly breakfast meetings for almost 30 years. She’s an international speaker on heart health for the American Heart Association, and a keynote speaker at other events.

Recently she and her husband, Ted Wentworth, relocated to Palm Springs from Orange County.

Here is the Beacon’s interview with her. 

What drew you to make your home in Palm Springs?

Ted and I began realizing a few years ago that we have much more vitality than we ever expected in our elder years.  We began developing and hosting conversations about the possibilities of what we call “Act 3.” 

We decided to sell our home in Newport Beach and move to a much friendlier, receptive and dynamic community. We sold most of our art and valuables at auction and downsized —  “right-sized” — into a condo in the Twin Palms section of Palm Springs. And what a great decision that turned out to be.

What are you up to these days?

A chance remark to Kristin Olsen, the owner of Urban Yoga Center of Palm Springs, led to her invitation for me to teach yoga. I am certified in several types of yoga, but I had studied solely for my own interest and practice. 

Her invitation sparked an idea to teach my own brand of heart restorative yoga that would be in alignment with the book I wrote for the American Heart Association following my own heart attack in 2009. I also love to consult with and coach authors to develop and write their books.

Cooking up a career

What launched your careers?

My career began when I was married to Paul von Welanetz, and I became a brand new mother. Instantly, I realized my life had changed, and I was now housebound with an infant. I had studied cooking in France and with a renowned chef in Los Angeles, and Lexi was only 3 months old when I began teaching cooking classes in our home. 

Julia Child was on TV, and there was tremendous interest in cooking and entertaining. What fun for us to have people gather around our kitchen table.

We specialized in preparing menus that could be prepared in advance and that led to our first cookbook, The Pleasure of Your Company. (It received the “Cookbook of the Year” award in the category of Entertaining.)

Five more cookbooks followed, and Paul and I enjoyed being at the top of our field. I even have a copy of Martha Stewart and me on facing pages in House Beautiful Magazine with the title of “Cooking Experts East and West.”

Paul and I opened a cooking school on the Sunset Strip, the Von Welanetz Cooking Workshop, and invited Wolfgang Puck and others to teach classes for us there. I would pay Wolfgang $200 and he would bring the food (now, you know how long ago that was!) 

 Paul and I eventually hosted one of the earliest national cooking shows, “The New Way Gourmet,” on the Cable Health/Lifetime Network. 

 During those very successful years something happened that deeply affected our career. The number of women in the workplace doubled from 24 percent to 48 percent, and women quickly lost interest in home entertaining. 

Promoting peace

At the same time, Paul and I were invited to go to the USSR as part of a documentary. There were 80 of us including activists Rama Vernon (founder of Yoga Journal), futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, Mike Farrell and Shelley Fabares, Dennis Weaver and his wife Gerry, the real Patch Adams author Alan Cohen, and too many to list.

Being there at the height of the Cold War awakened our passion for bringing people together, so we left our food career and opened a breakfast club, The Inside Edge (www.InsideEdge.org) that would be a forum for thought leaders about creating global and personal peace.

Some very vital people became members  — Jack Canfield, Barbara DeAngelis, Louise Hay, Susan Jeffers, Mark Victor Hansen, all of whom went on to become some of the most prolific and successful authors in the world today. That is how I became the first co-author in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

 My wonderful husband Paul and I celebrated our 25th anniversary, and only a few days later he became ill and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died only four months later. 

In one of our final conversations he said, “I don’t want you to be alone!”  I replied, to my great surprise, “Send me someone.”  “I will!” he promised. 

How he did just that is told in my memoir, Send Me Someone: A True Story of Love Here and Hereafter.  I sold the film rights to the Lifetime Network.

A few months after Paul died, a man named Ted Wentworth walked in to join the Inside Edge. All kinds of goose-bump events followed, and now Ted and I have been married 25 years. Ted was a lawyer, a rancher, a pilot and a yachtsman and is the author of Build a Better Spouse Trap: A Street-Smart Strategy for Men Who Have Lost a Love.

What advice can you give?

Listen closely, then follow your heart. Every day, wherever Ted and I go, doors open to more and more connections and opportunities. We are loving living our “Act 3” legacy here in the desert.