Fatemah Ben Salamah provides us with an update on her career since graduating at Le Cordon Bleu in 2017 with a Diplôme de Pâtisserie. She now runs her own patisserie called The Cookie Co in her native Kuwait.
What was your educational background and professional experience before starting at Le Cordon Bleu London?
"I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Kuwait University (KUNIV) and subsequently worked at the Kuwait Credit Bank as an accountant for a short duration of four months. It was at that time when I finally realised my calling and quit my desk job to pursue my passion in pastry.
"I then spent some time in Paris and joined a class learning more about the essentials of pastry with a private chef. I learned how to create macarons, financiers, madeleines, eclairs, croissants, and tartes. This to me opened a new window of opportunities. When I returned home, I invested in a new kitchen and began experimenting and creating new pastry recipes. Eventually, I began selling French pastries as a 'home-business' type venture which proved successful."
How did you decide to train in the culinary arts?
"At the time when I had been experimenting from my private kitchen, I noticed that I had not quite fully mastered the techniques and had been self-reflecting for a while. In retrospect, there was an unfulfilled need to understand the foundations of pastry, the techniques, the measurements, and the tools. I decided to specialise in this industry and set out to choose the right culinary school to help me achieve the required. My family, especially my father, supported me in doing so and I am to this day forever grateful to him."
Why did you choose to come to Le Cordon Bleu London?
"I chose Le Cordon Bleu London mainly because of its historic reputation as a respected culinary arts institution. Le Cordon Bleu is one of the pioneers in both teaching and safeguarding French culinary technique and I knew that I would be able to achieve what I had lacked up to that point by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu Diplôme de Pâtisserie programme. I chose London in particular because I found that the location and English language was the most suitable for me."
My culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu provided me with a comprehensive skill set that I am employing today as a pastry chef in Kuwait.
How did your culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu help you start and subsequently progress your career?
"I have used my knowledge by working with a variety of professional techniques ranging from hygiene to experimenting with new recipe concepts. Le Cordon Bleu has allowed me to understand the right method of kitchen management and to have a better understanding of timing and temperature while baking. After returning from the programme, I worked at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel where I was praised by executive chefs as a fast-learner and an innovative baker. I was then approached by several food chains/coffee shops to create and/or consult on new recipes which would then add value to their product offering."
What does Le Cordon Bleu represent for you in one word/sentence?
"The best decision I ever made that helped me progress in my chosen profession."
What can you tell us about your current project, the Cookie Co?
- Please describe your current role:
"I am the Executive Pastry Chef and Co-owner of the Cookie Co. My current role includes focusing on recipe development and trials, training new employees, overseeing the kitchen staff and facilities management, producing the final baked goods, ordering supplies, and supervising kitchen organisation and cleanliness."
- What does your day-to-day look like?
"My daily routine includes inspecting the kitchen in all its aspects, updating the inventory ledger for kitchen supplies, and monitoring the quality level of the baked products before they are marketed to the customer."
- What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
"The most challenging aspect of my job is trying to perfect the recipe and temperature of the dough used for the final product. This to me is highly imperative to maintain continuous quality."
- What is your inspiration?
"I try to expand my vision in the industry by constantly trying new and inventive coffee/pastry shops around the world and finding my own style using the inspirations I have collected."
- What part of your role as a business owner are you most passionate about?
"I have most certainly always wanted to start my own food business. I am most passionate about recipe development and value creation for my brand and final product."
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
"Dream big and be brave when you want to achieve anything."
Finally, what are your plans for the future, with the Cookie Co and beyond?
"My plan is to get the Cookie Co introduced to the world. I aim to further expand the business in more than one region. I am also looking to create another shop that would be specialising in one main product."
You can find out more information about the Diplôme de Pâtisserie which Fatemah studied in our programmes section of the website.