They say no matter how good you are, everyone is replaceable in a corporate work atmosphere. However, we at ICCA believe that it’s not the money or the technology that builds a company, it’s the people. You can replace skill sets but when a company has a truly great employee, the value that employee carries cannot be replaced. They are the ones who go to any extent to get the work done, who stay with the company through thick and thin with such dedication that is rare to be seen. And, we are glad that we have one such dedicated soul with us here, Sabeen Fareed without whom the ICCA kitchen refuses to work.
Sabeen is the heart and soul of our kitchen who is also an ICCA alumni. Her passion for food and cooking brought her to ICCA Dubai, where she graduated in Professional Cookery and Patisserie along with the Gelato & Sugarcraft program and ended up being a part of the school itself, managing the position of Operations & Administration Coordinator. In school, you will always find her on her toes organizing and supervising a handful of jobs but we managed to get her to have a quick chat with us to know more about her culinary journey.
Q. Tell us how you became passionate about food.
I think I am more passionate about cooking than eating and my very first experience of cooking was at the age of 12 when I had to cook out of necessity for a week when my mother had to travel to visit my grandmother as she was unwell. She had taught me all the basics and I was also familiar with most of the things as I was always a keen observer of my mother’s cooking. Since then I used to cook often but it was only later that the idea of learning professionally about food and cooking got into my mind.
Q.How did you pursue cooking on a professional level?
By the time I realized, I am passionate enough to do something in the culinary industry, I had finished my studies and had started working with my dad in our family business. So when I decided to pursue cooking, I did online cookery courses although I wanted to learn it in a real way in a proper kitchen. It’s during that time, one of my friends had won a voucher for lifestyle classes at ICCA for two and I accompanied her to those classes, after which I got myself enrolled in the professional program at ICCA.
Q. How come you joined ICCA after studies when you wanted to work in the industry?
After finishing my course at ICCA, I was applying for jobs at hotels so that I can learn more and gain some experience. But due to safety reasons the hotel industry does not allow you to be in Abaya while working in the kitchen, and I was not comfortable getting out of it either. That is when Ms Shanaaz Raja, Course Director at ICCA offered me to join ICCA as Operations Administration Coordinator where I couldstill be around food and the industry people.
Q. What do you do being an Operations & Administration Coordinator at ICCA?
I take care of the student & chef scheduling and visa procedures for both the students & staff which is more of paper work. In the kitchen, my responsibilities involve being in charge of high tea preparations, training as and when required, food & recipe-card coordination for all the events including team building and I also manage the purchasing department.
Q. Wow! That’s a lot but what is that one thing that interests you most?
As a principle of work, I do every work with the same dedication but when it comes to handling food my interest and enthusiasm flow in naturally. I mean it is more of a stress buster for me than work.
Q. When you crave for something, you prefer to make it by yourself or you have a go-to place to satisfy those cravings?
There used to be some favourite places that I frequented earlier, but after joining ICCA there is so much of food production happening here, especially made with ingredients that are top of the line quality and once in a while you get to taste them too, so then there remains no enthusiasm to go out and buy from shops. Again, sometimes I do but not that often.
Q. How does it feel to continue working in the same place from where you graduated?
Being in ICCA as an employee is totally different from being a student for obvious reasons, and I don’t think you can compare the two situations in the same context. I mean, there is a level of comfort for sure, but as an employee, you will see yourself being more responsible and respected on a professional level at the same place where you started off as a student which is a good feeling altogether.
Q. Do you still want to be a part of the hotel industry?
Yes, but again I want it only from the point of view of learning and exposure, and not to continue as a chef in the hotel industry. I mean, when you work in a hotel your expertise goes on to the next level, especially in patisserie. That advanced level of speed and techniques is what I want to learn from working in a commercial kitchen.
Q. You said you want to learn more but you don’t see yourself as a chef in the hotel industry. So what is it that you want to do with all the knowledge you have or planning to have?
I don’t have any immediate plans for now, but I know I want to learn and gain advanced knowledge in patisserie and eventually I would like to start something of my own, though I don’t know yet when excatly that would be. But yeah, that is what’s on my mind for future.