May 10, 2020

The Journey of an Award Winning Young Chef and Entreprenuer

When Rushad Wadia, the owner and chef at The Greedy Man Pizzeria started his own pizzeria soon after graduating from the International Centre for Culinary Arts, Dubai, little did he know what success had in store for him.

Rushad is still in awe when he talks about how his "one little idea" like how he refers to the pizzeria, managed to bag the Times Food Noteworthy Newcomer Award for 2016 which was then followed by The Best Pizzeria Award in the consecutive years.

Let's find out what Rushad has got to say about his experience with the pizzeria, awards and his journey so far as a chef and an entrepreneur.

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How does it feel to be a successful entrepreneur at such a young age?

Rushad: Honestly I don’t know if I am there yet to being successful. There is so much to learn in this industry and I have just started off with one little idea hoping for it to transform into something magical. So I guess the moment I have that magical feeling is when I can call myself a successful entrepreneur.

Tell us about your Times Food Awards experiences. Did life change after your win?

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Rushad: First award was a real shocker to the entire team. It had been only three months into opening the restaurant and one fine day we get a call saying that The Greedy Man has won the Prestigious New Comer Award at the Times Food Awards! I think I went blank for a few seconds but slowly it started to sink in when the awards started coming home quite often after that.

Life has changed in the most beautiful way for us after winning the awards. We started getting recognized for the different Neapolitan style of pizza that we were doing and people have now started to accept our style of pizza over the other pizzerias in the city which in itself is a huge accomplishment.

What influenced you the most in your decision to go ahead with a pizzeria?

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Rushad: When the plan of starting a food joint came along, my mind said Persian Cuisine, but my heart said PIZZA! I honestly don’t know why we decided to get into the pizzeria but we are glad we did. I felt it’s a beautiful art that needs to be shown in its true form that is from making the dough from scratch to hand tossing. However, not many pizzerias are doing it in the right way here.

How is food sourced at The Greedy Man pizzeria?

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Rushad: All our vegetables & Meat cuts come from the local morning market here every single day. Everything is ordered as per the number of pizzas we are making every day. We believe in Quality over Quantity and that’s why we limit ourselves to only 60 to 65 pizzas a day. We are soon going to start making our own buffalo mozzarella, so we are really excited about that.

What are the bestsellers of the pizzeria?

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Rushad: The classic Margherita and our popular Nutella Freak Shake.

How did you manage to build such confidence to embark on entrepreneurship so early in your career?

Rushad: ICCA Dubai was definitely a blessing for me. Throughout the course ICCA taught me to be focused, organized, to understand how a kitchen is and also to have a little fun now and then.

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You need to be on your toes every single second during your service time. ICCA helped me with achieving a good speed in the kitchen, and most importantly the confidence and a free mentality to take some risks, and that Small Risk I took then is called “The Greedy Man Pizzeria” today.

How much are you in touch with your ICCA Alumni network?

Rushad: I am in touch with everyone. You become a family in those 3 months. We had our stupid fights during our college time but when you graduate, you come out as one batch, as one big Chef family and I am so proud of where everyone is and what they have achieved so far.

What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new graduates from ICCA Dubai?

Rushad: Someone who has a free-thinking, who is ready to take some risk and with good speed.

Do you have any advice you would like to give the students who want to become entrepreneurs like you?

Believe in yourself but most importantly believe in your product. People will come running down to criticize you but it is important that you believe in your product that you are serving.

We are extremely proud to know where our alumnus, the pride of ICCA Dubai stands in their professional lives today, and we are glad we could be a part of their culinary journey. On this note, we are wishing Rushad Wadia more success, just the way he wants it to be with his magical feeling.

April 14, 2019

The Story Of A Home-based Foodpreneur

Each student that comes to ICCA has a story to tell. Be it the love of food, or passion for cooking. Dreams fulfilled or aspirations built up, the journey is unique just as the person telling it is. Some have a natural calling to the profession, for others, it is a complete change of tracks as they discover that they are happiest when they are in the kitchen creating something that they are proud of.

I bring to you one such story of a lady who followed her heart to the ovens. Rashmi Motwani in her own words:

What got you into Baking?

Rashmi: The smell of freshly baked cake has always filled my heart with a feeling of utmost happiness. While pursuing my MBA or while working in a software firm I never thought I would get into baking.

During my free time, I used to look at various baking videos online and wondered if I would be able to make something similar. This curiosity dragged me into the kitchen and voila! Here was my first cake. Surprisingly it was pretty good! And since then I started baking on and off for my family.

What prompted you to take up a Professional Program in Baking?

Rashmi: I was baking as a hobby, but it was always a very scary feeling that I had about the final outcome. Finally, on my husband’s advice, I decided to go through a training program where I could learn more about baking and sharpen my skills.

I saw ICCA’s website and went through student’s testimonials. I also went through their pictures on Facebook. I could see the relaxed environment and high quality learning infrastructure. And I was right about both.

Can you tell us about your Experience at ICCA?

Rashmi: I joined my certificate course in patisserie and was really excited about this new journey. This course lasted for a month and it was truly the most exciting month of my life. I was a student again. It was the first time I worked in a professional kitchen. I had an opportunity to gain from the experience of chefs from across the world. I had a chance to make new friends, meet new people and learn new things. The best part about my course was that we were not asked to blindly follow a recipe and make our dish. We were taught the importance of each and every ingredient and it was explained to us in detail. Our basics were made very clear. This brought a different level of confidence in me.

What followed next?

Rashmi: I always wanted to get into some kind of business and my course at ICCA gave me a direction. I started a home-based bakery, and named it ‘Dessert in Desert’. Thanks to my clear concepts of bakery I actually started getting amazing reviews from my customers. But I didn’t want to stop learning yet and thought I should get on to the next level now. So I enrolled myself in ICCA’s sugar flower course.

How was the Sugar Flower course for you?

Rashmi: Chef Nasarene made sure we learnt even the smallest trick there is about sugar flowers. She made sure we knew how to make full utilization of our available resources. She made me turn around a ball of sugar paste into a beautiful and breathtaking form. Eventually, I learned more about attention to detail. I realized how even the smallest detail can make a huge difference to your final product.

You have participated in The Nestlé competition too. What is it about?

Rashmi: Yes, I did; an opportunity that I got at ICCA. Every year Nestlé the giant food company organises a competition to promote its products. What I made was a Jasmine Green Tea Creme Brulee with Black Sesame Macarons and Green Tea Caviar. The Chefs here helped me prepare for it.

Your Last Word..

Rashmi: ICCA has not only helped me in building my career but also improved my baking and teamwork skills. I feel I am more confident and more informed than most of the home bakers I know. I am really grateful to everyone at ICCA.

 

 

April 4, 2019

The Winner Of ‘salon Culinaire’ In The Uae

ICCA Dubai Alumni Sana Quidwai, Wins Silver at Salon Culinaire!

“It was out of the blue when I was announced as one of the winners for a Cooking Competition that I had participated in for the first time in my life”, says Sana Quidwai after winning a Silver for Live Cooking, at the Emirates Culinary Guild ’s prestigious Salon Culinaire 2016.

When Sana joined ICCA Dubai to pursue her interest in cooking as a career little did she know that she could make a mark this early in her career graph even before starting her journey as a Professional Chef.

According to Sana, it was Chef Daniel Hiltbrunner, Master Chef Instructor at ICCA Dubai who encouraged her to participate in the competition. “Chef Daniel was there from the very beginning to give me all the support I needed. As a beginner, it was only because of Chef Daniel I gained the confidence to participate in a high profile competition like this, and he also helped me prep with necessary training sessions for the event”, said Sana.

To participate in a Live Cooking Competition for the very first time was indeed a challenging experience for Sana and that she came out with flying colours made this winning even more special. “The amenities provided in the competition were all new to me and within the allotted time period. I not only had to prepare and present the dish impeccably but also had to get myself comfortable with the types of equipment around me in the makeshift kitchen. All these made me even more nervous than I already was, but that is the challenge in a competition like this, you cannot expect to be in your comfort zone and you simply push yourself to the limit where putting out your best becomes your only priority”.

When the competitions started she was only focused on giving her very best and little did she know about the overwhelming response coming her way from the jury by the end of the show. ” I made Chicken Roulade and finished with a nice plating presentation  & on time. When the plate was presented to the Jury, they were all really impressed with my plating skills and it was shown to the fellow competitors, as an example of plating that ought to be done in a fine dining restaurant. That sure was some real moment of winning for me, where I knew I was able to deliver successfully from what I had learnt so far from the ICCA Dubai”.

Sana did not have any second thoughts about, to whom the credits for her success should be given. It was definitely Chef Daniel, Chef Marco and the other ICCA faculty who were in and around to give her timely feedbacks on her improvements while she was preparing herself for the competition back at the school. “I had started preparing myself at the school for the competitions under the guidance of Chef Daniel and Chef Marco. They made me prepare the same dish over and over again and pushed me really hard to cope with the required competition standards timing in plating, as everything had to be done at the quickest possible so that the food made reached very fresh and hot to the judges table. I am glad that I had such a good support system behind me, which not only enabled me to win a Silver Medal in this competition but also built up my confidence for a better tomorrow”.

The Winner of 'Salon Culinaire' in the UAE at ICCA Dubai

When asked about her future plans and the benefits that came out of such an experience, all Sana had to say was about the exposure she got through the competition.”It is a great experience to be around so many Industry Professionals and to see them all work with true passion. I think all the budding chefs should experience this kind of event so that they get a good idea of the industry and their working styles. Also, this competition has helped give me a good platform to start my career in the industry”, she added.

About Salon Culinaire

The Emirates Culinary Guild’s Salon Culinaire is a series of practical and display-based culinary competitions; entry to which is open to professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers. Approximately 1,300 young chefs compete to become stars of the future. From practical cooking competitions to the buffet and banqueting showpieces, chefs showcase their talent through a wide range of skills and techniques. Competitors are evaluated by a panel of renowned experts, mandated by the World Chefs to judge culinary events across the globe, ensuring the highest competition standards.

 

 

March 4, 2019

From An Engineer In Toyota To A Culinary Entrepreneur In Dubai

As a qualified engineer with a successful career at Toyota back in the Philippines, Chef Carlo Sobingsobing  decided to give up all of it to follow his parent’s footsteps and joined the Culinary Industry by taking charge of his mother’s restaurant in Dubai, which has now taken to new heights of success...

Carlo is a double graduate – in technology and culinary arts. However, his quest for knowledge did not stop there; he’s now doing an entrepreneurial course as well along with his hectic restaurant schedules to climb higher on the ladder of success.

Let’s find out what Carlo has to say about his career transition, and his journey so far as a chef and an entrepreneur.

Shruti: You are a qualified engineer... What inspired you to change your career path?

Chef Carlo: The restaurant that we have here in Dubai was started by my mom around 14 years back. All these years, she has managed to run that successfully all by herself. But lately, she has been having some health issues, and at such time it only felt right to take care of her and the business. She has invested a lot of time and effort into building up the business, so I didn’t have the heart to let it go.

Shruti: Did this sudden change in choice of career upset your family?

Chef Carlo: Oh yes, my mother was quite upset with my decision. She really wanted me to go back to my engineering field, as she knew I was quite happy with my career at that time. When I came to Dubai to help her with the restaurant she asked me to apply for jobs worth my qualification, and I even gave some interviews as well, but whenever it came towards the last lap I invariably rejected the offer. I think I had made up my mind to manage and develop the restaurant and was mentally prepared for a new career adventure.

Shruti: How did you feel about the drastic career transitioning?

Chef Carlo: It was definitely a huge transition. The fact is, I have always enjoyed being an engineer and I used to love my job too. But that never bothered me in taking a decision to become a chef, mainly because there was a part of me who enjoyed cooking too. From childhood itself, I used to help mom in the kitchen not because she asked me to but because I loved cooking and being around food. I remember reading a book based on restaurant management lately that says “consider having an own restaurant only if you are passionate about cooking or you have it in your family”, and in my case, it fits very well with my decision.

Shruti: Give us a glimpse into your career as a chef so far...

Chef Carlo: In the beginning, when I joined mom’s restaurant, I started with the basics since I didn’t have any formal culinary training. I handled more of service, purchase, and deliveries. Thanks to GPS I never lost my way doing deliveries being new in Dubai. From there, I slowly got promoted to the cash counter, and I had also started doing digital marketing by then for the restaurant.

Although I used to help in the kitchen, I was not that comfortable getting involved too much with cooking since I did not know the right way to do things as per the industry standards. That is when I thought about getting professionally trained and did my culinary education at ICCA Dubai.

Shruti: How did you find out about ICCA?

Chef Carlo: I came to know about ICCA through a random Google search and decided to do a short course before I got into a long-term professional course. So, I did a 3-day Artisan Bread Making course to learn the traditional way of bread making as I like bread a lot. I totally loved the course which eventually led to the professional program.

Shruti: How did your experience at ICCA Dubai help you after graduation?

Chef Carlo: ICCA gave me a proper insight into the culinary world. Even when I was doing my course in the evening, I used to get back to the restaurant and try to apply things that I was learning from school. After finishing school, I was able to keep my kitchen in a much more organized way. Now when we do outdoor catering, I am confident about taking up orders for international dishes which I was not comfortable doing earlier. Also, we have one more branch opened up in Al Nahda. And, moreover, all my batch mates and most of the Chefs from school have enjoyed the food at my restaurant.

Shruti: What did you enjoy the most about studying at ICCA Dubai?

Chef Carlo: It was always the kitchen that I enjoyed the most at ICCA. It’s massive, and I loved working & cooking in that environment getting some real industry exposure.

Shruti: What do you like the most working in the hospitality industry?

 As I said before, I have always enjoyed being an engineer, but when it comes to the culinary world, I feel this industry is more about giving which is highly gratifying. I am not just applying my knowledge here, but I am getting the chance to impart my knowledge to my staff too.

Shruti: What is your signature dish? Is there any story behind it?

Chef Carlo: I will have to say my signature dish is still under construction. (smiling)

Shruti: Are you still in touch with your batch mates?

Chef Carlo: Everyone is busy with their own lives but we all try to stay connected through our class WhatsApp group.

Shruti: What are your future plans?

Chef Carlo: I want to concentrate more on being in the kitchen and managing both our branches well. I believe good food should be affordable to everyone; it shouldn’t be something overly priced and served only in restaurants, so I am working on a plan to start a mobile food truck too. And, hopefully down the line, I want to open a branch back home...

The ICCA Dubai specially trains and equips students in industry best practices for a work placement in the Hospitality Industry and its graduates do it all in the Food world. They are successful Chefs, Restaurant Owners, Hospitality Managers, Entrepreneurs, Food Stylists, Food Writers and more.

Looking to equip yourself with the right set of hands-on skills and knowledge to set-up your very own Food Business?

March 4, 2019

Age Is Just A Number – They Story Of Yasmin Yusuf

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford

There is no doubt that we all would love to get back a few of those youthful days of student life that we keep so dearly in our book of memories. But honestly, if we do get a chance to relive those moments again, how many of us would go for it? I am sure most of us would have a common ground of excuses like work, money, family and age, even though we may be just in our 30’s or 40’s.

At ICCA, during the last academic session, we saw a calm & seasoned face with a determination and enthusiastic quest in her eyes to learn more among the usual young crowd. ‘She came and she conquered’ is the shortest way I can explain her student life in ICCA.  Yasmin Yusuf, a mother and a grandmother, is one of those few inspiring souls that we rarely come across in our daily lives as a reminder so as to not let age affect our aspirations. Read on to know her story of working towards her ambitions at the age of 63, proving that age is just a number.

Shruti: Tell us a little about yourself...

Yasmin: I was born, raised and educated in Lahore, a beautiful city in Pakistan. After completing my Bachelors in Arts, in 1977 I worked briefly in Karachi for an Italian Food & Beverage Manager, Mr. Ernesto Barba at the Casino. Later, the very next year itself that job took me to London and Spain where I met my husband as well. I have to admit that some moments are indeed life changing.

After my marriage, we settled in London, and that place has been home for nearly 40 years. While I was there, I set up a property business in 1993, a company which my son runs now. From London, we moved to Dubai 10 years ago, and since then life was pretty much in and around UAE.

Shruti: Give us an insight about being a home cook...

Yasmin: Life in London was all about being a perfect homemaker. When it comes to kids I have always been into good quality, healthy food so fast food was never an option. That’s where my love for cooking started. I learned cooking from my mother, aunts, sisters & books. Little tips that helped, a bit like the tips that our Chefs give us.

After setting up my business, life became a whirlwind and to my rescue cooking for family was therapeutic which helped me unwind during those hectic days. In my amateur way, I used to try new recipes for my family and friends. Glad that no one ever complained!

Shruti: From being a real estate business entrepreneur how did your journey take a turn to a culinary school?

Yasmin: All these years, my cooking was much appreciated by family & friends, and we used to talk about me opening a place of my own, but due to family priorities, I kept my dream on the back burner. Now, the focus of life has changed, I am quite free and my dream seemed to call out to me. But I wanted to have more knowledge about what a restaurant would involve, and my niece, Amina, has been doing a pastry course at ICCA at that time. We got talking and then here I am, a step forward in following my dream.

Shruti: How do you feel about becoming a student again?

Yasmin: I won’t deny it was hard, but it was exhilarating. Exams were stressful, especially the practical and I haven’t done exams for more than half of my life, but then I learned to focus again and to deal with stress & time limits. I am thankful I didn’t have to do any retests! I guess the experience of being an old school student was paid off that way.

Shruti: How did the school react when you applied for the program at an age where most of them prefer to relax and enjoy?

Yasmin: My first meeting with Ms. Shanaz Raja, Course Director, and Chef Aziz Rajab is still a source of amusement for me. After sending my application, I was called for an interview. I felt, they were thinking “What is she thinking? 60+ and wants to do such a physically gruelling course with kids aged in their early 20’s in a hot kitchen?” But I assured them I would be fine as I am doing it to live my dream, and I have been more than fine.

Shruti: How was your experience attending classes with considerably younger students?

Yasmin: I had an amazing experience with such a young and thriving generation. We had a lovely batch of 21 budding chefs with three boys aged less than 20! Not to mention the differences we had in the thought processes, which helped me learn much more than just cooking. They were all respectful and we formed a bond, like a surrogate family. The junior and senior batches mingle and help each other. It’s like a family coming together for those months and then staying in touch and knowing what we are all doing after leaving our temporary home.

Shruti: Being a culinary student at this age is not the same as doing other class room courses. It demands a lot of physical effort in the kitchen. How was your experience in the kitchen?

Yasmin: The kitchen was a delight to learn and work in. Helpful staff, modern kitchen equipment, and the faultlessly flowing kitchen plan made things a little easy for me.

Chef Vinod & Chef Daniel & Chef Francois have the patience of angels. Chef Aziz pushed us to learn & find our potential. Chef Marco was our friend but was very strict in judging our performance.  The morning greeting from Chef Mihaly for the “youngest student” used to set the mood for me. Chef Lorraine’s guidance is exemplary. They used to share their life experiences and the road they travelled to get to where they are today, and these stories fill our minds with dreams to fulfill for ourselves.

Shruti: What advice or guidance would you like to give for other non-conventional students out there?

Yasmin: When I decided to study further, I did not think about my age as a constraint. The only thing in my mind was to pursue my dream and for me, this was only a part of a much bigger plan. For the senior aspiring students like me, all I have to say is take the very thought of being old from your mind, which is stopping you from planning your future. I would say keep doing and experiencing new things rather than thinking you are too old for anything new.

Shruti: What are your future plans?

Yasmin: There is still a lot to learn and the next step is to work in a real kitchen. I am hoping to do that in London and I am working on that. I am a step closer to fulfilling my dream…. A place of my own, a café that is an extension of my living room where I entertain in my own style but one that has been chiseled by ICCA.

March 2, 2019

A Culinary Entrepreneur In The Making

ICCA Dubai has witnessed the rise & success of many food entrepreneurs since its inception. However, it’s not every day that we see someone as young as Nuha Khaleel, 19 who is very much focused on working towards her career goals to become an entrepreneur in the culinary industry following her father’s footsteps.

Nuha Khaleel is a Professional Program student of ICCA Dubai and as soon she graduated as a young chef, we sat down with her to discuss her experience in the culinary world so far and also to peek into her future career plans to inspire the fellow youngsters of her age.

Shruti: If I may ask who Nuha Khaleel is, what would you say?

Nuha: A successful future culinary entrepreneur for sure! But as of now, I am a culinary student at ICCA Dubai with a family business background in patisserie.

Shruti: Is that the reason why you chose a career in the same field?

Nuha: Yeah, I could say family business did play a major role in my career decision but like every other kid, I also had some other thoughts about my career. I am good at creative writing and I wanted to pursue a career in that but I am not quite confident about being a writer. And, when it comes to food, for our family it is the source of our livelihood as my dad has been in this field for over 35 years now. So the interest in building up a career in the culinary field came naturally to me which led me to ICCA Dubai right after my 12th grade.

Shruti: How did you come to know about ICCA?

Nuha: One of my sister’s friend is a chef at Atlantis, The Palm, who did his professional program from ICCA and he’s the one who suggested this school as one of the best in the region.

Shruti: How has your experience at ICCA been so far?

Nuha: ICCA is definitely a good experience.  Initially, I had come here to do only hot kitchen but after completing that I enrolled in for patisserie also as that is what my dad’s business is all about. As I mentioned, I joined ICCA soon after my 12th grade and I was worried about going into a completely new environment. But to my surprise, from day one itself, ICCA put me at ease. I got along well with everyone here including the Chefs, learnt well and made a lot of friends too.

Shruti: If you have to pick a favourite moment at ICCA what would that be?

Nuha: Favourite moment would be working at Formula 1 kitchen. The exposure and experience working in a real busy event kitchen were huge which made all our efforts and burns worth it. I’m really glad ICCA provided us with such a great opportunity.

Shruti: Who is your favourite ICCA Chef Instructor?

Nuha: I like everyone equally but Chef Marco was the mentor of our batch and he was more than just a teacher for us. He knows when to be a professional and when he should be our friend. I used to enjoy his class a lot.

Shruti: What’s next after ICCA?

Nuha: After graduation I would be working with my dad at Bakemart Gourmet for a few months to get some experience and then by September I will be going to University to learn Business Management so that I can learn everything about entrepreneurship.

Shruti: Any plans to further the culinary education?

Nuha: Yes, I am planning to go to Le Cordon Bleu, London during my next summer break for a 3 months course. I believe it is important to gain as much knowledge as possible when you have big dreams.

Shruti: So, you don’t plan on working as a Chef?

Nuha: After graduation, I would be a certified chef but I don’t see myself working in the industry as a chef. My plan has always been to become an entrepreneur in the culinary industry which happens to be in my blood I believe.

Shruti: Going back to your earlier ambition to become a writer, do you have any plans to pursue it?

Nuha: Well, I love writing no doubt about it. So, I don’t know, maybe someday I might write a cookbook or something related to food. Let’s see...

February 19, 2019

18 Again – A Successful Restaurateur Goes Back To Culinary Fundamentals

Being a part of a culinary school, we have witnessed the rise of many successful food entrepreneurs who took their baby steps to the world of culinary at ICCA Dubai. However, someone joining the school to learn the culinary basics despite having a successful career in the food industry as a restaurant owner is not something we see that often.

We usually get students who are either aspiring chefs or entrepreneurs who want to get their fundamentals right to work towards their dream. So, when Mohammed Bineesh, the founder, and owner of Ustad Hotel, Dubai, came to join ICCA for the Professional Program, we were all curious to know why he wanted to take up a culinary program when he was already living his dream as the owner of multiple restaurant outlets.

For Bineesh, it has always been about his love for cooking even though he never had that many opportunities to do any actual cooking while growing up. He hails from a family where the kitchen is dominated by women and men are not encouraged to do the same. Coming from such a background, it was difficult for him to pursue a career in the culinary industry at that time. And now that he has become the proud owner of multiple restaurants with hard work and passion, it was time for him to fulfill that old dream of him learning to cook from a proper culinary school.

Bineesh began his professional journey as a hospital administrator soon after his graduation. However, he didn’t forget to take his love for cooking with him there. He started small in the culinary world with occasional small-scale catering along with the hospital job and grew that to a full-time catering business. His growth was fast but consistent because of his determination and hard work. It didn’t take much time for him to open up Ustad Hotel, his own restaurant that is popular among the Keralites in the UAE.

Currently, Bineesh owns 5 restaurants in Dubai & Abu Dhabi together, which include 3 outlets of Ustad Hotel and 2 Japanese restaurants.

We are glad we had someone like him as a student in ICCA because he was more than an inspiration to the young minds here. Bineesh is a perfect example of sustained passion and he has proved that wonders can happen when determination, hard-work, and passion come together.

Restaurateur and Culinary Student

 

Looking to equip yourself with the right set of hands-on skills and knowledge to set-up your very own Food Business?

December 20, 2018

Meet Oscar & Jemima’s Founders – ICCA Alumni

At ICCA, we have seen many aspiring food entrepreneurs in the making and achieving their goals as soon as they enter the industry. However, Karl Bishop and Georgina Morton, our Amateur Cookery students took one step ahead and made it all happen within a short span of time while they were still studying in ICCA. They met at ICCA, became friends and their friendship bloomed to a wonderful business partnership which gave birth to an amazing idea, Oscar & Jemima’s which is named after their gorgeous kids.

Oscar & Jemima’s is a digital initiative that was born out of a shared passion for food by Georgie & Karl to encourage home cooking in our busy lifestyle. Their vision and thoughts encourage us to go back to homemade foods even if we are busy and used to takeaways. Here, we have Karl and Georgie talking about their homemade meal plan venture and the story behind this unique idea.

 

Tell us about Oscar & Jemima’s

Georgie: We are the region’s first recipe subscription website with the aim of helping busy mums with their mid-week dinners and lunch packs. For minimal cost, you can subscribe and be sent you dinner recipes for the week and a downloadable shopping list too. In addition to making life easier, we are trying to encourage people to cook more and take responsibility for what they are feeding themselves and their families. It’s important to know what goes into your food. Also, cooking is fun when done with the family and mealtimes bring families together.

 

It’s a great concept, but how is it different from a food blog?

Karl: Very different as you don’t have to spend time flicking through recipe books, trawling websites to find inspiration for meal times – we do all the research and send inspiring, easy-to-make and interesting recipes straight to our subscribers every Thursday so they have the weekend to shop and then not have to worry about what they’re going to cook every night.

 

Are all the recipes created exclusively at Oscar& Jemima’s? Or do you use the classic ones as well?

Georgie: We make, test and write all the recipes and take inspiration and knowledge from our love and years of cooking for our families and ourselves. We have also honed our skills and learnt some of the very important classic basics of cookery through our Diploma course at ICCA.

 

What inspired you to come up with an idea like this?

Georgie: Being a working mum, and even before I was a mum, working long hours and then getting home and having to think about dinners was always a pain for me. Even though I love cooking I didn’t always have the time and energy to find the inspiration every night. Imagining I’m not the only person who feels like that, I wanted to help inspire people and take that stress away from their day. One of our first customers commented what a relief it was not having to think about dinners, trawl recipe books, websites and magazines for ideas, and loved that someone else was writing her shopping list, so based on that I think we are succeeding to fill a much-needed gap.

 

Karl, you told us that you always wanted to do something in the food industry but what’s Georgie’s story like? And how did this partnership happen?

Georgie: I have always been passionate about food and cooking, my mum inspired and taught me to cook and I also studied hotel management at the university. My life then took a detour away from food to video production and photography for a while but I always had the underlying knowledge that I would follow my dream to do something in the culinary industry when the time was right.

After quitting my job and taking the plunge, I researched the best courses to help fill some technical gaps and found ICCA to be the best school to attend in the region for what I needed. The option of attending weekends or weekday mornings was great too. Two months into the course I met Karl and sharing a similar passion, I started coming to school each day with new ideas of how we could work together in the food industry. I was sure he was the person to work with and that this was the right time to start and so it was.

 

How do you split the responsibilities at Oscar & Jemima’s?

Karl: We both love cooking so we both cook, Georgie photographs the recipes, edits the images and we both share the load of managing the website, blogs, social media, typing the recipes and shopping lists, marketing and all the other administrative sides.

 

How was your experience at ICCA Dubai?

Karl & Georgie: ICCA has been an eye-opener for both of us in terms of the food knowledge, not only on the theory side but also understanding the fundamentals of classic cooking. The chefs have been great fun, knowledgeable and are very supportive to work with and the energy in the ICCA kitchen is amazingly inspiring; it does have the feeling of being an energetic happy family. It was also such a great opportunity that ICCA gave us to work with their teams at Taste of Dubai.

 

Why did you not pursue the Professional Program?

Georgie: Neither of us had the desire to work in a professional kitchen nor were we able to give the commitment of 6 long days a week, both having young children. We felt the course we chose was right for what we needed to achieve from it. Besides, one of my goals when signing up for the course was to meet someone like me with the dream of working in the food industry. Besides we are both too old to be on our feet that many hours a day, 6 days a week.

 

Forgot to ask about Oscar & Jemima. Are they fond of food?

Georgie: Oscar is my 6-year-old son and Jemima is Karl’s daughter and she is 3. In Oscar’s case, ‘fond’ is an understatement. I am very lucky as he eats almost anything. You can guarantee he will ask me what’s for dinner when he wakes up in the morning and he always says; “it’s because your cooking is so delicious mummy”(Laughs).
I think he’s biased.

Jemima is younger than Oscar, so she is still exploring what she likes and doesn’t like. As of now, blueberry pancakes seem to be a favourite. I do think if children are brought up in a house where one or both of the parents cook they will have an interest in food and what they eat. I found Oscar experimenting the other day making himself dough for a pizza and then photographing it so I would say he has a healthy interest in food and is paying attention to what I am doing.

Karl: Let’s see how Oscar & Jemima’s influence their lifestyles as they grow up.

Karl and Georgie made it all happen in the food industry with the help of the ICCA Amateur Cookery Program, which suited best for their busy lifestyle. If food is your passion and you don’t know where to start, go through the ICCA Culinary programs to find a program that will suit you best to begin your culinary journey.

 

July 5, 2018

Exploring The Journey Of A Food Entrepreneur With Icca Dubai

Whether you’re working in a restaurant, taking on the road with a food truck or even finishing orders from your home kitchen, today, there are so many ways to turn your food business into a successful one...

Wondering what it’s like to be a Food Entrepreneur?

Meet Mahwish Aziz, one of ICCA Dubai's' alumni who left her job as a successful Graphic Designer to become a full-time baker and an entrepreneur. Armed with an internationally accredited qualification in The Culinary Arts - Baking & Patisserie from the ICCA Dubai, she has managed to do it all in the world of sugar & butter.

There was something about baking that Mahwish always loved since the age of 11 and when she baked her first cake out of a ready-to-mix cake box, did her passion for baking seriously ignite and went on to grow to a small-scale home-based baking business that she continued doing even while she was working as a graphic designer.

Although the flair to bake came to her naturally but the growing list of clients made Mahwish feel the need to get professionally trained to help get her cake decorating skills honed to the next level.

Further realization that baking is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, helped her decide to quit her job at the ad agency and join ICCA Dubai to do the Sugarcraft program that also led her to do both cookery and patisserie programs as well.

food entrepreneur

After all the professional training, more orders started coming her way which was a lot to cope up with especially the limited space of her home kitchen. That is when her father suggested about opening up a professional bakery with a dedicated production kitchen.

Sugaries by Mahwish Aziz

 

And before she could even think, Sugaries was born. For Mahwish, Sugaries is much more than a patisserie shop; It was a dream that she had since her childhood which she has managed to put together with her hard work and parents’ support. When it came to naming her business, Mahwish had no second thoughts; she has always been so fond of the name ‘Sugaries’, that she had even made the logo for the name when she was 17 or so.

When her father suggested for a startup like this Mahwish didn’t feel she was ready for something that big but everything went well and now she has a fully-fledged production kitchen for the shop and she also caters, takes party orders and much more.

Now coming to the hard part of being an entrepreneur, what Mahwish has to say is “Running a bakery is not all about beautiful pink aprons and cute cupcakes. It’s obviously a trillion times challenging to have your own shop, in comparison to baking from home. When you’re running a shop you’re depending a lot on your staff where you can’t be sure whether they can deliver the same quality as you do, even though they are trained for it. You have to be alert about everything going on in the shop especially when you are traveling even if it’s for a day. We deal with the usual day-to-day problems that any business would come across or more since we are dealing with food here. It’s food industry after all and it’s not that easy; and it comes with its own sets of challenges and troubles”.

When dealing with challenges like this in the business, this is exactly where she feels ICCA Dubai has helped her a lot. “When you are learning from a bunch of talented chefs who have different approaches towards the industry and food, it is a great experience for the learner. You learn different ways to deal with the various aspects of the industry and moreover, it’s after coming to ICCA that I realized how much potential I have than I ever had thought. I was surprised and extremely emotional when I was announced as the Chef of the Batch. I mean that gives you a lot more confidence to go out and get something done”, she added.

After coming so far also living her passion, she strongly believes that having a focused mindset, knowing what you’re getting into and being determined to learn more has helped her achieve a lot in her culinary career.

To sum up, all she has to say is, “It is a wonderful career but be ready to take the critic and be mindful of the fact that if you made a great cake today it could collapse the next day. Just take that with a pinch of salt”.

Do you have a passion for food? Then look no further...

Driven by Innovation and Striving for Excellence, The ICCA is all about leadership and is more than just a school.

This is Where Lives Happen...

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