ICCA Dubai has witnessed the rise & success of many food entrepreneurs since its inception. However, it’s not every day that we see someone as young as Nuha Khaleel, 19 who is very much focused on working towards her career goals to become an entrepreneur in the culinary industry following her father’s footsteps.
Nuha Khaleel is a Professional Program student of ICCA Dubai and is also the daughter of Mr T.K Khaleel the founder and owner of Bakemart Gourmet Group, Dubai. As she is soon to be graduated as a young chef, we sat down with her to discuss her experience in the culinary world so far and also to peek into her future career plans to inspire the fellow youngsters of her age.
Q. If I may ask who NuhaKhaleel is, what would you say?
A successful future culinary entrepreneur for sure! But as of now, I am a culinary student at ICCA Dubai with a family business background in patisserie.
Q. Oh, good to hear that you are already a part of the industry. Is that the reason why you chose a career in the same field?
Yeah, I could say family business did play a major role in my career decision but like every other kid, I also had some other thoughts about my career. I am good at creative writing and I wanted to pursue a career in that but I am not quite confident about being a writer. And, when it comes to food, for our family it is the source of our livelihood as my dad has been in this field for over 35 years now. So the interest in building up a career in the culinary field came naturally to me which led me to ICCA Dubai right after my 12th grade.
Q. How did you come to know about ICCA?
One of my sister’s friend is a chef at Atlantis, The Palm, who did his professional program from ICCA and he’s the one who suggested this school as one of the best in the region.
Q. Tell me about your experience at ICCA so far.
ICCA is definitely a good experience. Initially, I had come here to do only hot kitchen but after completing that I enrolled in for patisserie also as that is what my dad’s business is all about. As I mentioned, I joined ICCA soon after my 12th grade and I was worried about going into a completely new environment. But to my surprise, from day one itself, ICCA put me at ease. I got along well with everyone here including the Chefs, learnt well and made a lot of friends too.
Q. If you have to pick a favourite moment at ICCA what would that be?
Favourite moment would be working at Formula 1 kitchen. The exposure and experience working in a real busy event kitchen were huge which made all our efforts and burns worth it. I’m really glad ICCA provided us with such a great opportunity.
Q. Do you have any favourites among the ICCA chefs?
I like everyone equally but Chef Marco was the mentor of our batch and he was more than just a teacher for us. He knows when to be a professional and when he should be our friend. I used to enjoy his class a lot.
Q. What’s next after ICCA?
After graduation I would be working with my dad at Bakemart Gourmet for a few months to get some experience and then by September I will be going to University to learn Business Management so that I can learn everything about entrepreneurship.
Q. Any plans to further the culinary education?
Yes, I am planning to go to Le Cordon Bleu, London during my next summer break for a 3 months course. I believe it is important to gain as much knowledge as possible when you have big dreams.
Q. So, are you saying that you don’t want to work as a chef?
After graduation, I would be a certified chef but I don’t see myself working in the industry as a chef. My plan has always been to become an entrepreneur in the culinary industry which happens to be in my blood I believe.
Q. Going back to your earlier ambition to become a writer, do you still have plans to pursue it?
Well, I love writing no doubt about it. So, I don’t know, maybe someday I might write a cookbook or something related to food. Let’s see.