Alumna Maryam Al Nusif of Le Cordon Bleu London studied Basic Cuisine in 2008. She is now the Head Chef and Owner of Tampopo, a ramen restaurant based in her hometown Kuwait.
What was your educational background and professional experience before starting at Le Cordon Bleu London?
"I have a Bachelors in accounting and an MBA, and I worked in investment banking for 3 years."
How did you decide to train in the culinary arts?
"It's always been a dream of mine to become a chef, but it wasn’t acceptable by my society and family back home. As soon as I got a chance, I jumped straight into it and that was when I was in the middle of writing my thesis for my MBA at Imperial College, London."
Why did you choose to come to Le Cordon Bleu London?
"It represented the closest thing to working in a professional kitchen and could help me realise my dream. Le Cordon Bleu is also well known to us back home. I always knew of it and I never really considered any other schools back then."
Le Cordon Bleu gave me my base skills, confidence that I have a real knack for it, a more realistic understanding of the industry and its challenges.
How did your culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu help you start and subsequently progress your career?
"It pushed and challenged me so much - plus the brand really helps to open doors for you as a graduate."
What does Le Cordon Bleu represent for you in one word/sentence?
What is the most challenging aspect of your job as restaurant owner at Tampopo?
"The place I confirmed exactly what I wanted to be: a chef."
"I never actually have any time out, as even on my days off, I'm still the business owner too and that comes with further responsibility, as well as admin and paperwork too. Long hours of of being slammed at service - which I am equally very grateful for - can also take a toll on the lower back!"
What part of your role as a business owner are you most passionate about?
"Engaging with my guests directly, watching them watch us as we cook, then getting instant feedback on the food by hearing means of pleasure or getting direct feedback by speaking to them."
Did you always want to start your own food business?
"Sort of. I did, but I didn’t like the standard model of a restaurant business. I worked in kitchens in London, some of which were in basements, behind closed doors and I didn't like the disconnect. Now that I have built my own model, this is what I always wanted."
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
"Follow your heart, its usually right, and try to ignore the naysayers."
Finally, what are your plans for the future, with Tampopo and beyond?
"Ultimately, getting better at what we do. Continue with the innovation, keep the place as real and authentic as I can, maintaining my presence in the kitchen, continue my collaborations with local creatives, and keep building the Tampopo community. We have a small but growing team; we intend to grow more in quality than quantity."
You can follow Maryam's footsteps by appyling for our Diplome De Cuisine today, please visit the page, or view our other programmes and courses.