I struggled throughout school and when I finally finished my grades were appalling. My dad told me that my life was over as I had low qualifications, but my mother told me to go to catering college as I had a flare for cooking. I had always helped her out in the kitchen from a young age and unknowingly had developed a skill that I was naturally gifted at.
Now when reviewing my time at school, despite my negative experiences which have clouded a lot of my memories, the one subject I excelled at was home economics. In hindsight being a chef was always my calling.
It took me a long time to get to grips with my diagnosis at the age of 25, but over the years I have begun to realise that being dyslexic, dyspraxic and neurodiverse gives me a different perspective on life and allows me to think outside of the box.
When I finished college, I began working in professional restaurant kitchens, but really struggled to keep up the pace due to my dyspraxia as my processing speed is slower and I would experience sensory overloads with the different noises. Nonetheless, this pushed me towards private cheffing which is a career I have pursued for over 25 years, I now run my own catering company, Eclectic Food.
Having had to always work harder than the average person, I have a very strong work ethic which is a skill required as a chef otherwise you will not make it in the industry. Without my neurodiverse self, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am very creative which is essential for a chef to be able to experiment and create recipes, new flavours and beautiful plates of food. I have worked with some amazing clients over the years, introducing me to more wonderful people. Being a private chef is a really personal experience and so the relationships you build are unique; few other jobs offer this.
I’ve also been able to travel, with many of my clients taking me to extraordinary parts of the world like Palm Beach, Connecticut, Jamaica and Thailand. Being a chef will always provide you with daily challenges and being able to overcome these is always an achievement and an invaluable experience to learn for next time. What I love most about my job is the instant satisfaction when I see that my clients are enjoying their food. Working for very high-profile people including royals, politicians and Nobel prize winners. My job has opened up a world to me that I otherwise would never have been able to experience.
I have recently helped create and write a few recipes for a dyslexic charity’s children's cookbook. It was a real privilege to boost young children’s confidence in a skill that isn’t solely academic.
Having learnt from all the experiences I have gained as a dyslexic, you have to be confident, be as true to yourself as possible and disclose that you are neurodiverse. Whenever I have disclosed my dyslexia there is always someone else in the room with it too, we are never alone.
My passion as a chef is driven by the sheer pleasure and adventure of cooking; of combining unsuspecting food ingredients and watching the dish come together, and then savouring the moment when that dish provides a capsule moment of delight for my guests. My instinctive curiosity may have something to do with the fact that I was born in London, raised in Ghana and trained in Switzerland; three places for me which delivered the cornerstones to my craft: the dexterity, the art, and the science of cooking.
My two decades of experience has been peppered with working abroad and travelling to countries with rich food cultures. Whether it is the galangal of Thailand or the masala tea of Tanzania the stories behind food, the people who cook them and how they present them are fascinating. This has been the inspiration behind my adding the skill of a food stylist to my repertoire. Above all the welcoming relationships with London Fashion Week, Cannes Film Festival and the Dorchester which have all grown through my cooking has been remarkable. Unexpected kaleidoscopes of exploration, of friendship and delectable treats.