This version of “Coolest Personalities” of Vero Beach is a little different than the usual. There is a reason for that, and it likely has to do with Jayne Clifford’s writing ability and thoroughness, which from a professional writing standpoint, is pretty cool in and of itself.
He loves to fish. She loves Pilates.
Together, they love to cook and inspire healthy ways of living and eating for others. Who are they?
They are Michael and Jayne Clifford, owners of Sealantro Gourmet Healthy Prepared Meals. Jayne is from the northwest of England, but has lived in Florida for 28 years. Michael is a Vero Beach native and graduate of Vero Beach High School.
When asked to be a part of Vero Vine’s “Coolest Personalities” feature, the two were humbly excited to share their story with the Vero Beach community.
In a world where everyone is incredibly busy and priorities are all over the board, it’s often hard to get folks to take just an hour or so of their time to either meet and do an interview, or sit down and answer questions in an e-mail, in depth.
Mind you, I (Jenn) can work with nearly anyone’s schedule and meet most expectations, as I’m juggling real life and work life constantly, and I don’t mind e-mail responses or in-person responses, so long as times and schedules permit on both ends.
Jayne, however, went above and beyond in her e-mail reply, and provided dialogue between her and her husband that were far better than I could have rewritten. I would venture to guess it’s in part because she’s also an author, and I’m excited to read her book, which she speaks about in the following question and answer piece. Alas; their responses:
What is/was your career/job title(s)? What led you to where you’re at now?
Jayne – Oh Crikey. This could take a while.
I studied languages at Cambridge so I always wanted to travel. I went into international banking after I graduated and I hated every minute of it. One day I was walking past an employment agency in London and went in on a whim. A week later I had a new job in advertising sales for an international magazine and I had found my niche. I covered France, Spain, and the Middle East for them because of my languages. My next job was working for a company that published in-cabin magazines for cruise ships so I did international sales for them and visited the Caribbean a lot. Later on I did a two-year stint on St. Maarten.
Eventually I left to focus on my health because traveling 60 percent of the time took its toll on me. I went to New York for eight months and studied nutrition and pilates. I came back to Florida and opened two pilates studios (Pilates of Vero was on Royal Palm Pointe for 10 years).
I missed the travel so I started working with frequent business travelers to keep them healthy on the road. Eventually I wrote a book on the topict, “Mile High and Healthy: The Frequent Business Traveler’s Road Map to Eating, Energy, Exercise and a Balanced Life.”
Mile High was recognized by Entrepreneur magazine, forbes.com and the New York Post so I started doing more corporate work, presenting at companies that had mobile workforces.
I was still health coaching locally, people were enjoying my programs and losing weight but most didn’t want to cook for themselves. There’s a lot of chopping involved in healthy cooking. I had only been dating Michael about a month and I asked him if he would mind cooking for my clients, even though he had a full time job. That’s how Sealantro was born. I’ll let Michael finish.
Michael – When Jayne asked me to cook for her clients, I jumped at the chance. I had taken a break from the kitchen and was working front-of- house at Aquarina Country Club in Melbourne Beach, but I was missing the kitchen. I would get home from work around 11 p.m. and cook until 5 a.m. for Jayne’s clients.
I don’t care if you’re Superman, you can’t keep working at that pace for any length of time. We took a break and went to England on vacation. I didn’t know I was meeting my future in-laws, but I fell in love with the country and the girl. When we got back, we formed Sealantro and I proposed. Everything came together at once.
We started with vegan meals then expanded to Keto and Paleo. Most recently we have added a Carb-Cycling menu. We run the café at McKee Botanical Garden and are opening a second location at 2060 6th Avenue.
I’m “Executive Chef” and Jayne calls herself “Chief Elf” because she does everything from washing dishes to marketing. We’ve come a long way. I started in this business washing dishes at Grand Harbor Beach Club 28 years ago. From there, I went to Riverside Café, then the Black Pearl, then to Fort Pierce where I worked at Manatiki and Cobb’s Landing. Then I went to Aquarina and I’ve told you the rest of that story.
What do you feel you bring to our community? What do others commend you on?
Jayne and Michael (collaboratively): Just this week we had a new client who is out of state and she needs meals for her father who lives here. He has had surgery and needs to follow a special diet but can’t cook for himself. We step in and help not just her father but it’s an enormous relief to her too.
We also work with a lot of moms that want to eat healthily but the rest of the family doesn’t. The mom doesn’t want to cook two or three separate meals, so she buys meals for herself from us. We save people a lot of time and, ultimately, money. When you’re buying several sets of ingredients, there is often a lot of wastage. We help to avoid that.
We consider ourselves to be part of McKee Botanical Garden, which is an absolute gem in our community. Visitors are often surprised that they can get fresh, delicious food that is prepared onsite. Most tourist attractions have dreadful over-priced food. Our menu items are all under $10. You can also visit the café without paying admission to the Garden.
We are commended on our commitment to bringing fresh healthy food to the community, and on Michael’s Key Lime Pie, which is superlative.
Do you think of yourself as cool? Have you always felt that way?
Jayne – I don’t think I’m cool. I’m just old enough to have done lots of interesting things, like traveling and living in several different countries. Michael is my husband and I think he’s the coolest guy I ever met.
Michael – I’m as cool as any 43-year-old guy that can’t run as fast as he used to. When I was playing football at Vero Beach High School, I had the arrogance of youth on my side and thought I was really cool (Go Fighting Indians!). Then I blew out my knee and couldn’t play anymore. That was a reality check.
List three of your passions and/or hobbies.
Jayne – Travel for sure, fine wines, pilates.
Michael – All of the above (except pilates), fishing, and football. As a Dolphins fan, I’m the eternal optimist.
Tell us a little about your professional and personal goals. Tell us about your past accomplishments.
Jayne – My personal goal is to stay healthy and age gracefully so Michael and I can continue to spend quality time together and travel lots. Joseph Pilates said, “A man is as young as his spine is flexible. If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” I taught Pilates to people of all ages and this is one of the most intelligent quotes ever about health.
Professionally, I want to change the world one meal at a time. With Sealantro we have a huge opportunity to bring amazing healthy food to people who don’t have time to “shop, chop and cook.”
Past accomplishments, I’m most proud of my book and that I made a room full of engineers at NASA laugh when I was presenting about healthy travel. They were a very serious bunch and asked the most intelligent questions. However, they were a daunting audience so I made it a goal to have them in stitches.
Michael – Professionally, I want to see the Sealantro brand grow. I’m really excited about our second location. Personally, I’d like to continue to have the opportunity to visit our friends and family in Europe. And let’s not forget the USA. Jayne wasn’t born here and she’s been to more states than I have. Next year we plan on taking the train cross country from Chicago to Seattle.
In terms of past accomplishments, while at VBHS I was a Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) recipient. I had terrific mentors and learned a lot about running a business. Professionally, my biggest achievement to date was the day when Sealantro was doing well enough that I didn’t have to work two jobs. I was finally working for myself. I’m still thankful for that RYLA opportunity.
Where can the two of you be found each weekend? What about each weeknight?
Jayne – We work weekends so Sunday night is date night. We usually head to Waldo’s because we like to be near the water. Michael fishes whenever he can. Monday is beach day so Michael can fish. Weeknights are busy because there are always provisions to order, prep lists to do, and all the other fun stuff that goes with running a restaurant. I try to practice pilates in the evening and Michael can most likely be found watching fishing shows. Yup, he really likes fishing.
Michael – What she said.
Who are your biggest influences? Your biggest supporters?
Jayne – Ariana Huffington – we graduated the same college at Cambridge. Like me, she came from a modest background. She has achieved phenomenal success and still adapts to follow her truth.
There’s a thread about humble beginnings here. My grandfather had to leave school at age 12 to work to help support his family. He was very intelligent and gained a place at the local grammar school (I don’t know what the U.S. equivalent would be) but his family couldn’t afford to keep him in school. Of course, being so smart, he worked his way up at the local railway station from the lowest of positions to yard manager back when rail freight was more prevalent in the U.K. During World War II, he would walk the railway lines every night to ensure that our town, Preston, and its dock were concealed from the Nazi bombers that would head north of us to bomb the shipyards in Barrow.
Anyway, because Granddad missed his opportunity, I vowed that I would take every single one that presented itself to me.
Michael is my biggest supporter. He’s the first guy I ever met that encouraged me to shine.
Michael – The late Anthony Bourdain. Aside from being super cool, he opened up the world to a lot of people through his travel shows. His depictions of the places he visited and the various cuisines were pretty real and not glamorous. He was also a huge supporter of the humble cook at a time when celebrity chefs are idolized. And he knew how to cook well.
Tell us about your family? Kids?
Jayne – My family is in the UK and Spain, apart from an aunt in Vermont. I love that many of Mike’s family are here. Nearly everyone knows a Clifford and they have all worked in the hospitality business in town!
Mike – My son Austin lives nearby us and works at Piper. My brother, Jeff, helps us out and works at Post & Vine. My dad lives in Sebastian.
What is the most unique feature, in your opinion, about our community?
Jayne – Quite honestly, Vero Beach is the best place I’ve ever lived. Factor in northern England, Madrid, Cairo, Port Sudan, London, St. Martin, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and New York City. I have no wish to live anywhere else. I love being in a small town and that everything is so close. We work at McKee, so we are surrounded by beautiful gardens but we can be at the beach in five minutes.
Michael – I’m with Jayne. I love being in a small community. Big cities need neighborhoods. Vero Beach is a neighborhood.
What do you love the most about the work that you do?
Jayne – I watch people struggle with trying to eat healthily so it’s wonderful when we can make matters easier for them by providing good healthy food without them having to “shop, chop or cook.”
Michael – I like to watch avowed unhealthy people eat healthy food and love it. One of our best selling dishes at Sealantro at McKee is a Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Stew curry, which is loved by vegans and omnivores alike. Similarly, our vegan blueberry cake flies out the door. Of course, we offered whipped cream to non-vegans.
Favorite quote? It can be by you or a famous quote. Something that you live by.
Jayne – John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” For me, it pays to adapt and be willing to give anything a try. I wouldn’t have gone to Cambridge, lived in Africa, the Caribbean or even here if I hadn’t had that attitude. I left a comfortable job and a home in London to come to the U.S. My original plan was to stay here for two years and go back. That was 28 years ago.
I do have another that I have to mention. If my grandma thought someone was talking down to her, she would say, “I may be cabbage-looking but I’m not green.” That would stump them.
Mike – I’m not good at this. I like that white cat on Facebook. Seriously, I’m inspired by the late Anthony Bourdain’s quote about travel: “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”
Vero Beach is very much home but I love traveling to Europe to spend time with Jayne’s family. It’s a lot of fun to see a country with people who live there. Travel will also make you humble. You learn to respect that the one way you might have learned to do something is not the only way.
To find out more about SeaLantro and the meals and packages they offer, visit their website, www.sealantro.com, or find them on social media. They can be reached at (772) 713-7730. E-mail for additional information as well, firstname.lastname@example.org. Jayne (McAllister) Clifford’s book can be purchased HERE.