Terrible cook? Or just too pressed for time? Why bother when there are options nowadays… Private Chef, is the new (old) buzzword in culinary circles. Along with Cooking Classes for lay-people it is presenting choices for those with time, lifestyle or dietary challenges. I chatted with celeb chef Ammaarah Petersen about her background as a chef and how she got into the private cheffing business.
We meet at a local coffee shop that is buzzing with the lunch crowd. Ammaarah is a vivacious personality. At 26 she is a ball of energy that is set to take on anything and everything. Her enthusiasm for life is apparent and her passion for her work fairly radiates from her face.
She tells me she started cooking with her mother at the age of 7, getting paid for baking cakes. At 12 she created Ammaarahlicious. Her entrepreneurial spirit was sealed. At 14 she did an Aalimah course which she graduated by age 16. She then enrolled in Capsicum Culinary School graduating by age 17. This made her the youngest student with a Diploma in Professional Cooking in French Cuisine.
Her first offer of internship was at a well known Cape Town hotel. They insisted she had to taste everything that was prepared in the kitchen in order to do it right. Not willing to compromise on her religious beliefs and her refusal to taste pork dishes or alcohol, it lost her a prime placement. Not one to be held back, with great ‘khutspa’ she approached the head chef at the Radisson. This landed her a 6 month internship.
After a stint with Unilever, doing food development, which she did not enjoy much due to lack of creativity, she started cooking for events and organized getting chefs for these events. This was the seed for launching Ammaaralicious Food Solutions, the prime focus of which was the outsourcing of staff for events and restaurants. At the same time she has been head chef at the Romney Hotel, ambassador chef for Tastic and been on various shows including Esspresso, VOC and Pasella. She now runs HotChefs.co.za offering private chef services and cooking classes at her studio in Somerset West.
Some personal stuff in Ammaarah’s own words:
Tell me a little about your family and the challenges of balancing work and home life.
I have a close knit family. Being the third eldest of 6 children is so much fun and there is never a dull moment. My mum and dad are very creative and out of the box thinkers which they have passed down and instilled in all of us. We all are very entrepreneurial and are supported and pushed to be the best we can be and achieve our goals. With all of us managing our own business and studies we get together every Friday evening, we call it family Friday’s which has been a tradition since a young age.
Who inspires you, and why?
I find inspiration in every person I meet. Every person goes through different challenges and victories, so for me, I learn lessons or find motivation in each of them. If I had to choose one person, it would be my father. He has this persona, character and belief system that truly stands out. He has this unique energy and way of speaking, which just strikes inspiration inside of you.
Any passions besides food?
Hahahaha, I do everything whole heartedly and with absolute passion. Traveling, meeting new people and understanding different cultures gives me a euphoric feeling that food usually does. I love adventure and happiness engulfs me when I experience new things.
Any advice for other young people wanting to get into the Cheffing Profession?
The most important ingredient in life is that you love what you do. You might enjoy cooking, but when you have to do it for 12 to 18 hours a day it could drain the life out of you. You have to be prepared to spend most of your time in a kitchen while friends and family are enjoying their weekends away or nights socializing. As a chef you spend your life serving others with complete selflessness but when you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life! I compare passion and love, like salt to a dish, without salt, the true flavour and nutrients of the ingredients won’t be present and it will be bland. The same way when you don’t have love and passion in what you do, it will never bring you contentment and true fulfillment.
Contact Ammarah on 084 978 6843 or firstname.lastname@example.org | www.hotchefs.co.za
How would you like to upskill your kitchen prowess and unlock your inner masterchef?
Ammaarah is giving one of my readers
a cooking class at her studio worth R650!
Head to Facebook or Instagram to enter at 10am tomorrow.
Competition closes 15 April 2018.
(Extended to 22 April)