Bahraini Chef Sara Alkoheji knew she wanted to become a chef from childhood. Although her parents were very supportive they wanted to make sure she had something else to fall back on. Sara completed her law degree in Kent before coming to London to achieve the Diplôme de Pâtisserie and practiced law before eventually following her true passion and opening her own cookery school, The Cooking Studio, with her mum in 2017.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
"My name is Sara Alkoheji, I am a Lawyer/Pastry Chef from the Kingdom of Bahrain. I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with a Pastry Diploma in the summer of 2013."
How did your passion for food start?
"My passion started at the very young age of seven or eight thanks to a children’s cookbook that my mother gave me. I started making the recipes when I came home from school and soon, I had made every single recipe in the book. Shortly after, I started experimenting with different cookbooks from my mother’s impressive library and I noticed a pattern in the recipes. I had understood the basics of cakes and biscuits and started adding my own twists and variations to the basics. Funnily enough, I did not know that what I was doing was special, I thought every kid my age would spend their free time baking."
What did you do before studying at Le Cordon Bleu?
"After graduating from high school, I went on to get my Law LLB from the University of Kent, Canterbury. I knew I wanted to go to culinary school from a very young age, but my parents were hesitant. We agreed that I would go to university, obtain a bachelor's in any major I chose and then after that I would be able to obtain my diploma from Le Cordon Bleu. There were many reasons for their hesitation which I do understand, but they mainly wanted to ensure I completed my education and had a bachelor’s degree to fall back on."
Who or what inspires you to pursue a career in the culinary arts?
"It’s difficult to pinpoint the inspiration down to one person or event in my life, but being in a kitchen, as stressful as it may be, brings me great happiness. There is an enormous feeling of satisfaction at the end of a long day, when you’re physically and mentally drained, looking at everything you have created and knowing that it also brings other people happiness when they devour it."
What made you decide to study at Le Cordon Bleu London?
"Le Cordon Bleu is a prestigious school that needs no introduction, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. London is like a second home to me, so choosing Le Cordon Bleu London was an inevitable decision."
What did you do following your graduation from Le Cordon Bleu?
"Upon moving back home, I proceeded with practicing law and obtaining my qualification in Bahrain, however, I continued to bake whenever I was able to. I also supplied cakes to a couple of cafés in Bahrain during that time. Four years later, after gaining experience in the legal field, I still had the ambition and passion to commit to the culinary field full-time. At that point I decided that I was in the perfect position to take the leap and completely change career."
How did the qualification received help you in your career?
"The experience I gained during my time at Le Cordon Bleu is immeasurable, from techniques to time management and even teamwork. The prestige that comes with being a Le Cordon Bleu certified pastry chef speaks for itself."
How did you decided to open your own cooking studio?
"I’ve always enjoyed teaching people and showing them that the kitchen shouldn't be a scary space in their home. There was a definite gap in the market for adult baking and cooking classes, especially in a relaxed and warm atmosphere. I was then, and still am as determined as ever to get more people into the kitchen to experience how enjoyable it can be."
Any tips you can provide to aspiring food entrepreneurs, based on your experience?
"Go with your gut instinct because, most of the time, it is correct. A quote that resonates with me is “Don’t fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.” Take the chances and the risks without the fear of failing because most of the time that fear is the only thing holding you back."
Going back to your time at Le Cordon Bleu London, do you have one highlight or best memory?
"Every. Single. Day. I loved every part of it and I have said it many times before, if I could repeat it all over again, I would."
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