• Ahmed J

I'm Hungry for Adventure

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Hi! My name is Ahmed. I'm a student and I love food and adventures, especially adventures in Disney. I've been in kitchens since I was a kid - not any fancy professional kitchens, but my grandmother's and mom's kitchens. They were the ones who taught me how to cook and sparked my love for cooking and baking. Once I got to high school, I was lucky enough to be at a school that had an entire program that we pretty much cooked and baked, and that is what sparked my love for food. Now, I'm taking an undergraduate degree in hospitality and tourism management. So pretty much, I love cooking, baking and the hospitality industry!

Growing up and spending time with both my grandmothers while my parents were away at work, allowed me to see ♫ a whole new world ♫ (if you didn't sing that, you're crazy). I started off helping both my grandmothers rolling out the most basic of the India flatbreads, chapati or roti, which my cousins and I happily called rokli. Soon after, my maternal grandma, or Mama, showed me the wonderful world of baking with her famous pound cake, which is the fluffiest pound cake you would have ever eaten. At only five years old, I was ready for the world of baking, already making changes to my Mama's recipe. One thing you should know about me is that I love raisins, at five, I put raisins in everything (yes, I ate raisin bran as a child). One day, Mama was going to make her pound cake, and I found a Bundt pan and she was also out of raisins, so I was eating dried black currants – close enough right? So, I asked if she could make her cake in a Bundt pan and so she did. When she was about to put the cake in the oven, I threw some currants on top, and that has now become a trademark quality of her pound cake. Ever since that day, I’ve been baking at home, helping my mom make cakes and cupcakes.

Not that long after my introduction to the kitchen, the amazing Disney Pixar film, Ratatouille, was released. At first, I was freaked out a bit, who wouldn't be freaked out by rat that cooks? This movie, as weird and unrealistic it is, is probably what has kept me going all these years. The message that seven year old me took away from it, was that no matter where you are or who you work with, never lose sight of your dream. "You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true, anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great" -Chef Auguste Gusteau, Ratatouille, 2007. This film has also inspired a few of my dishes, like the Pixar-style Ratatouille (yes it is a real dish from France and Italy).

Wine poached pear with a spiced vanilla caramel sauce.

​​Fast forward nine years, I started high school. Luckily enough, my high school had what’s called a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in hospitality and tourism, meaning that I graduated with a specialist diploma in hospitality and tourism. These five courses have really allowed me to grow as a cook and experience new foods I never thought existed. From grade nine, making lemon poppy seed muffins, and grade eleven when we made handmade pizza and handmade cheese. Grade twelve was the turning point, where I realised that I did in fact love the hospitality and tourism industry. In grade twelve, as part of my SHSM, I had to take the grade twelve cooking/hospitality class and grade twelve restaurant management. Both classes were amazing – one allowed me to learn new skills and techniques in the kitchen and the other taught me the management side of the industry. I also had two great chef-teachers who were teaching me throughout those four years, who I attribute a lot of my success to. They were the ones teaching me in the classroom and created lots of opportunities for me.

Marysol and myself in her restaurant

​​One of the biggest opportunities these two chefs pretty much handed to me in my hand, was to help in an amazing gala at my high school, the annual Food for Thought Gala. In this gala, the two chef-teachers contact their various chef friends from around the Ottawa and surrounding area. These chefs come to our school and oversee a group of about six or seven students. These students help the chefs prepare one of five courses to be served at this gala. Through volunteering for this gala three years, I have been able to network with various chefs across the city. I have worked with Marc Dorion, of town restaurant, Anna March and Marysol Foucault, of Edgar in Gatineau. To this day, I have a great relationship with Marysol, who has asked me a few times to help her out, either in her kitchen or as her helper when she is a guest chef at another establishment.

These experiences are very special to me, have allowed me to grow and learn throughout the past four years. I need a place to store these memories and reflect upon them. That is one of the reasons I created this blog. I also created this blog because of popular demand. After posting a lot of the foods I’ve made on Instagram and Facebook, many friends and family have asked me countless times to start a blog and share my recipes. “Why not?” I thought – and so here it is: a blog to share my experience and recipes.

Join me on my hungry aventure!

#hungryforadventure #story #food

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