About Me

 

imgID11626057 (1)I am qualified in Professional Cookery with nine years experience working in vegan and vegetarian restaurants in London, the Lake District and abroad – and my absolute passion is cooking wholefood for health and well being.

I started working in kitchens when I was a teenager and although I had aspirations to become a Chef I went to University and then did a Masters in Broadcast Journalism. I then worked as a Print and Broadcast Journalist for 10 years in and around London, before changing my career and finally becoming a Chef. I went back to college in my thirties and finally got my professional chef qualification.

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Food has always been a lifelong passion of mine but it became even more important to me when I became vegetarian in my early twenties. I quickly felt the health benefits and later became vegan. I continued studying food and healing diets and have been influenced and trained in vegan wholefood, macrobiotic, ayurvedic and raw food cooking styles.

I have now been cooking professionally for nine years at innovative vegetarian and vegan restaurants across the UK.

I am currently working as a Retreat Chef for yoga retreats and giving cooking classes in people’s homes. Before this I was a Chef at Lancrigg Vegetarian Country House Hotel in the Lake District – and before that I was in South America where I helped set up a Vegetarian cafe in Santa Cruz in Bolivia. Prior to this I worked as a Private Chef in London for two years, and did outside catering, cooking classes, supper clubs and cooked on numerous retreats and holistic holidays. I have worked all over the world – as a Pizza Cook in Australia, in the kitchens of a Kibbutz in Israel, at festivals in Ireland, on retreats in Spain and in community cafes in London’s East End. I am happy cooking either vegan fine dining or hearty retreat food with a healthy wholefood twist.

Scroll down to see some of the places I have worked over the last nine years, from as close as Cumbria to as far as Australia…

Professionally Qualified

Kendal College 405x405I qualified as a Professional Chef at Kendal College in the Lake District. I studied for a year at Kendal College’s prestigious cookery school learning the art of professional cookery and cooking for their fine dining restaurant. I became skilled in; making stocks, soups, mother sauces, cold sauces, preparing, cooking and finishing vegetables, artisan bread, dough, pastry products and hot and cold desserts. The course covered all aspects of food health and safety, knife skills and working effectively as part of a hospitality team. 20150223_162647

Recipes we were taught include Latticed Treacle Tart with Creme Anglaise, Sweet Pastry, Short Crust and Choux Pastry, Lancashire Cheese and Rosemary Soda Bread, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce, Rhubarb and Ginger Creme Brûlée with Lemon and Poppy Seed Palmiers, Scotch Broth, Puree Soups, Goujons and Tartare Sauce, Asparagus Veloute, Cheese Souffle, Red Onion Marmalade, Roquefort Dressing and Candied Walnuts, Brown Bread, White Bread, Pitta Bread, Souvlaki with Tzatziki, Greek Salad and Chilli Sauce, Espagnole and Beurre Blanc.

 

Work History

Below is a taste of some of the places where I have worked over the last nine years.

Blackbird Artisan Bakery

More recently I worked as a Sourdough Bread Baker in Australia. I made 400 loaves of sourdough loaves each week, scaling, cutting, balling and rolling by hand, nine varieties of artisan bread, in a small independent bakery. I was responsible for bread production and wholesale orders for local shops and cafes. I also helped with the production of cakes, bakes, slices, meringue, pies and handmade puff pastry rolls.

 

I also worked at The Bhakti Tree – an Indian Vegetarian Cafe serving a daily all-you-care-to-eat buffet. Here I learnt how to make different Indian breads including chapati, roti, poori, paratha. And also subji, dals, sambar, pakoras, kofta, popadum, vada, dosa, masala dosa, utthappam, idli, soups and chutneys, halava and homemade paneer. The cafe was run by ISKON and we had to adhere to strict vedic principles while working including offering all the food.

My Famous Date Slice – I even sold my delicious date slice cakes from a vintage pram at a flea market each Sunday.

hotelLancrigg Vegetarian Country House Hotel, Lake District – I worked as a Chef for the Green Valley Vegetarian Restaurant which is a fine dining restaurant for residents and non-residents in a privately run hotel. I helped managed the kitchen within a small team. I did bulk baking shifts of cakes & pastries; meringue, creme brulee, brownies, carrot cake, flap jack, crumbles, mousse  – including vegan and gluten free and all general mise en place (more than 60 recipes). We made everything including ice-cream, sorbet, chutney, toffee sauce, granola & bread. I worked various shifts including breakfast, lunch and evening dinner service when I managed the pass and hot plate section for up to 30 three-course dinners. I was fortunate to be featured in the local newspaper, which was fun. To read the article follow the link – Gazette Article

At the hotel I built up a large repertoire of recipes including Mushroom and Nut Wellington, Tofu Fish n Chips, Homemade Artisan Pizzas, Cumbrian Rarebit, Quinoa Cakes, Homemade Falafel, Root Vegetable Rosti, Moroccan Mezze, Indian Thali, Green Curry, Speciality Soups, Homemade granola, chutneys, toffee sauce, ice-crem, sorbet and a wide range of gluten free and vegan cakes and snacks. I have added many of my own dishes to the menu including Slow Roast Tomato and Thyme Cashew Nut Tarts, Farinata de Ceci, Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Orange Puddings with Chocolate sauce and Chocolate Truffles.

 

20141021_105703Centre for World Peace, Holy Isle, Scotland – I worked as a Retreat Chef at a Buddhist Retreat Centre cooking for 40 people each day using fresh home grown vegetables from the garden. I cooked breakfast, soups, salads, main meals, homemade bread, gluten free and vegan bread, cakes & desserts. I advised on garlic/onion free cooking for their 10-week winter retreat.

Here I learnt a fantastic recipe for Gluten Free and Vegan Bread and a great Tapioca Porridge from a Tibetan nun. I also introduced them to my famous sugar free Date Slice.

 

jamyang-cafe-courtyardJamyang Buddhist Centre, London – On a voluntary basis I baked sourdough bread and muffins for their cafe and cooked soups, stews and meals for the lunch time trade.

 

 

Bligh-Hassan Family, London – For two years I worked as a Private Chef and cooked a vegan, gluten-free & sugar-free diet for the Bligh-Hassan family who had very special dietary requirements. I prepared everything from scratch including homemade bread, gluten free pies, pastries and cakes, tofu, sushi, dairy free milk and creams. I cooked all their evening meals, desserts & snacks. The family had a wide variety of complex dietary requirements including allergies to nightshades, soya & wheat. I did stock checks, wholesale ordering & arranged deliveries. I gave the children cooking classes.

I introduced the family to a huge range of healthy snacks including Power Balls, Bliss Balls, Coconut Macaroons, Cashew Nut Cheese Cake, Chocolate Avocado Mousse and sugar free homemade Artisan Chocolates.

 

Bonnington cafeBonnington Cafe, London – For two years I cooked more than 50 covers each night from a set menu. It is a collectively run vegetarian restaurant where a different Chef cooks each day. The café has been open since the early 80’s when it was started as a squat café to provide healthy affordable meals for the community. I cooked everything from Sunday Roasts to Sushi Plates, Nut Pates, Dals, Nut and Lentil Burgers, Satay and Ratatouille.

Me at Saf

 

Saf Restaurant, London – Saf produced innovative plant-based cuisine and is one of the only vegan kitchens to be awarded a Michelin Rosette. I worked as Chef De Partie of the cold/raw food section which consisted of more than half of the entire menu, including raw desserts & meals. I worked in a high pressured environment in an open/customer facing bistro kitchen, preparing both mise en place & plating food during service. I also directed the kitchen & worked the pass section in the absence of the Soux Chef & Head Chef.

Here I was trained in the art of raw food preparation which included Flaxseed Crackers, Sea Vegetable Salads, Pad Thai, Cashew Nut Cheese, Rice Paper Wraps, Parsnip Rice Sushi, Dolmades and raw milks including Almond Milk.

7Boot Camp Spain, Andalucia, Spain. I worked as a Retreat Chef on a prestigious Health & Fitness Retreat in Spain where I cooked all meals & snacks every day for up to 20 people on a weight loss programme. I designed a dairy-free, sugar-free & wheat-free menu which I am delighted to say was reviewed by journalist Lowri Turner & featured in Women’s Fitness magazine. See it here.

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Mash Shack Festival Cafe – For three years I set up & ran a  funky vegetarian festival food stall business touring many of the UK’s major music festivals (more than 30) including Bestival, Camp Bestival, T in Scotland & Electric Picnic in Ireland. The business was awarded a full 5 stars in the Scores on the Doors Scheme. I created the concept, branding, marketing material & all that is entailed in starting & running a food business. I toured the UK with the cafe & fleet of vehicles including a 7.5 tonne truck, which I drove, selling thousands of meals each weekend.

 

hornbeam cafeHornbeam Community Cafe – I collaborated with Hornbeam staff to start a series of Vegan Super Clubs in this community cafe in London’s East End.

Cookery Classes – I have given dozens of private cooking classes in London which included eight weeks of private classes to Supermodel Caprice’s Live-in Cook.

 

 

 

Continuous Professional Development

– Level 2 CIEH Award in Food Safety in Catering – Kendal College, Cumbria. 2015

– NCFE Level 1 Unit Children & Healthy Eating. Preston’s College, Lancs. 2014

– Looking After Your Health. International Macrobiotic School, Devon. 2013

– Alternative Baking. Hornbeam Cafe, London. 2012

– Food Safety Awareness in Catering. Train 4 Food. 2012

– Vegan Puddings. De Muths Vegetarian Cookery School, Bath. 2012

Gourmet Vegan. De Muths Vegetarian Cookery School, Bath. 2012

Cakes and Croissants. Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London. 2012

Sourdough Bread Making. Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London. 2012

Wholefood Harmony 8-Week Macrobiotic Cooking Course. London. 2012

Traditional Fruit Carving. May Kadee Vegetarian Restaurant, Thailand. 2011

Food Hygiene Certificate. National Caterers Association. 2009

Vegetarian Thai Cooking, May Kadee Vegetarian Restaurant, Thailand. 2009

Whole Food Cooking. Concord Institute, London. August 2009

 

My Personal Story

It was only when I gave up dairy, wheat and sugar that a lot of my own health problems started to clear up – things that I had suffered with since being a child. I previously had no understanding that what I was eating was connected to my ill-health.

I soon saw the health benefits of the decisions I had made. I felt physically and mentally better – I was far less governed by my moods and a lot of my problematic skin conditions cleared up. I could also eat without becoming bloated, which I now know was because of an intolerance to gluten.

Since then I have heard so many more stories from other people with their own similar experiences. And I now firmly believe that the food we put into our bodies has a direct impact on our health and wellbeing. And when you think about it – it’s easy to see why. Why should alcohol, caffeine and drugs affect us, and we all agree they do, but not other food stuffs? And what about the healing effects of foods? If what we consume can harm us – it can also heal us.

Everybody is different and we all have different body types, metabolism and emotional nuances – we just need to listen to our bodies and observe them to discover a diet that is going to provide us with optimum health benefits. But sometimes we can’t listen to our bodies because we can’t hear what they are saying to us. The messages are clouded, perhaps because we are too busy or we are eating things which are over stimulating – the reasons will be different for each person.

For example I now know that my body prefers hot cooked food to cold raw food. I now know that garlic can be too strong for me and can bring me out in mouth ulcers if I have too much. And coffee and sugar can give me headaches. But I feel really nourished after a plate of brown rice, steamed greens and beans. I am getting better at discovering which foods over stimulate me and which foods calm me. Eating the right kind of food for my body has given me clarity in my day to day life and physical and spiritual nourishment.

 

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Newspaper articles

I was lucky enough to have some of my recipes printed in Women’s Fitness magazine in August 2011 in a double page spread written by TV presenter Lowri Turner, who I cooked for on a Health & Fitness Retreat in Spain. To read the article follow the link below:

Women’s Fitness Magazine, August 2011 – Womens Fitness Article

It was also fun to be featured in the Westmorland Gazette in October 2014 while working at Lancrigg Vegetarian Country House Hotel, in their regular Chef Profile page. To read the article follow the link below:

Westmorland Gazette, November 2014 – Gazette Article