IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT
~ WALT DISNEY
The Last Few Years have been incredible: stressful, turbulent, but above all the most positive experience of my life. I’ve dabbled with death, been at my all-time emotional low, but I’ve risen, grown as a person and come out in the best place I have ever been.
I owe this journey to my relationship with food. My relationship with food was going to be the end of my life but my inherent love of cooking made me turn this around so it could become the beginning of my new life. It was both my failure and my saviour. Now I appreciate food on all levels, to nourish but also to give utter joy through voyages in flavour. For me, food preparation and recipe creation became a solace from the stress of everyday life.
Before I enrolled at Leith’s, life had become a monotonous rollercoaster. A Near fatal accident in 2007 had left me needing many bouts of surgery and had quashed any hopes of starting a career. Yes, I worked, events management, retail, etc but nothing pushed my buttons. I reached a point where I needed to do something for ME, that I would feel fulfilled with.
Ever since dot I’ve been fascinated by food. Name a holiday and even at age 5 I could tell you what we ate and what it was like. I didn’t realise but food had been my passion since I can remember which is bizarre as no one in my family is remotely foodie.
I was, by default, the main cook in the household from an early age. I learned the basics from my mum, who, whilst a good home cook, hated every second, so she gladly handed over the reins. Cooking became my go to stress relief. When things got tough, I could bury myself in the kitchen and experiment.
It is perhaps the importance of food in my life that led me, at my lowest point in my Biological Sciences Degree, to develop an eating disorder, I could control the one thing that really meant something to me.
This was to ravage the next 19 years of my life so, in 2014, I took the bull by the horns and enrolled in Leith’s Diploma Course to become a fully fledged professional chef. Yes, I was scared, what if I began to resent my passion and hobby? What would I be left with? But the lure of that qualification that could lead to so much more was too intense, conpounded by the fact that I had just completed a one day course in Patisserie at Leith’s and loved every second.
Again, my past would creep up on me and I was forced to leave after only the foundation term as I needed more major surgery. Someone was smiling on me though and Leith’s agreed I could come back to complete the course the following year. In hindsight, this couldn’t have worked out better. After recovering I struck a relationship with Michel Roux Jr, who allowed me to stage in all his London restaurants. This gave me such a buzz and I also staged at Blumenthal’s’ Hinds Head in Bray, Castle Terrace in Edinburgh and Boundary, under the fantastic Freddy Forster (more about him later).
Upon returning, Leith’s was tough, time plans and a 4 hour commute each day above and beyond the cooking left me exhausted but happy, I was determined to achieve my goal. I graduated in 2016 with Merit, only a mark away from distinction. I couldn’t be happier.
Having learned so much under the guidance of Freddy Forster, I was given the job of Pastry Chef at Le Pont De La Tour. It was amazing, he is an outstanding leader and I gained so much from my role. But, again, my health would intervene and I was forced to leave with kidney problems. But, luck was to change. I got back in touch with an old school friend who I owe everything to. I wouldn’t be where I am now without her encouragement. She pushed me to set up freelance and begin writing recipes for brands and work on my own material for eBooks.
This is where my dream comes true. I now recipe write for brands such as Steenberg’s Spices and The Wasabi Company, my first eBook is getting published and I have taught classes for Riverford Organic, alongside working abroad and in this country as a private chef.
Step by Step. That’s how I have approached my journey. By looking at tasks that face me Ive learned that baby steps accumulate into one big achievement. By learning not be daunted by the bigger picture and take things little by little, you can achieve what you never thought possible. That’s how I want you to approach these recipes, step by step and you can make food that really is delicious and perhaps beyond what you believe your capabilities are.
I truly believe that food provides nourishment for the mind, body and soul. It unifies people and for that it deserves to be treated with love and respect.