At ICCA, we have seen many aspiring food entrepreneurs in the making, and have also seen them achieve their goals as soon as they enter the industry. But it is rare to see students nailing it when they are still doing their program here; Karl Bishop and Georgina Morton from Amateur Cookery who made it all happen together within a very short span of time is one such inspiring success story that ICCA has witnessed. They met at ICCA, became friends and their friendship bloomed to a wonderful business partnership which gave birth to an amazing idea, Oscar & Jemima’s which is named after their gorgeous kids.
Oscar & Jemima’s is a digital initiative that was born out of a shared passion for food by Georgie & Karl to encourage home cooking in our busy lifestyle. As we got Karl and Georgie to spare a little time from their busy schedule to chat with us, let’s find out the rest of the story from them itself.
Q. Tell us about Oscar & Jemima’s?
We are the region’s first recipe subscription business with the aim of helping busy mums with their mid-week dinners and kids pack lunches too. For minimal cost, you can subscribe and be sent you dinner recipes for the week and a downloadable shopping list too. In addition to making life easier, we are trying to encourage people to cook more and take responsibility for what they are feeding themselves and their families. It’s important to know what goes into your food. Not to mention cooking is fun, it’s a great opportunity to spend time with the children and mealtimes bring families together.
Q. It’s a great concept but how is it different from a food blog?
Very different as you don’t have to spend time flicking through recipe books, trawling websites to find inspiration for meal times – we do all the research and send inspiring, easy-to-make and delicious recipes straight to you every Thursday so you have the weekend to shop and then not have to worry about what you’re going to cook every night.
Q. Are all the recipes created exclusively at Oscar& Jemima’s or you use the classic ones as well?
We make, test and write all the recipes and take inspiration and knowledge from our love and years of cooking for our families and ourselves. We have also honed our skills and learnt some of the very important classic basics of cookery through our Diploma course at ICCA.
Q. What inspired you to come up with an idea like this?
Georgie: Being a working mum, and even before I was a mum working long hours and then getting home and having to think about dinners was always a pain for me. Even though I love cooking I didn’t always have the time and energy to find the inspiration every night. Imagining I’m not the only person who feels like that, I wanted to help inspire people and take that stress away from their day. One of our first customers commented on what a relief it was not having to think about dinners, trawl recipe books, websites and magazines for ideas, and loved that someone else was writing her shopping list, so based on that I think we are succeeding to fill a much-needed gap.
Q. Karl, you told us that you always wanted to do something in the food industry but what’s Georgie’s story like, and how did this partnership happen?
Georgie: I have always been passionate about food and cooking, my mum inspired and taught me to cook and I studied hotel management at university, my life then took a detour away from food to video production and photography for a while but I always had the underlying knowledge that I would follow my food dream when the time was right. After quitting my job and taking the plunge, I researched the best courses to help fill some technical gaps and found ICCA to be the best school to attend in the region for what I needed. The option of attending weekends or weekday mornings was great too. Two months into the course I met Karl and sharing a similar passion I arrived at school each day with new ideas of how we could work together in the food industry. I was sure he was the person to work with and that this was the right time to start and so it was.
Q. Who handles what at Oscar & Jemima’s?
Georgie: We both love cooking so we both cook, I photograph the recipes, edit and artwork the images and we both share the load with managing the website, blogs, social media, typing the recipes and shopping lists, marketing and all the other administrative side.
Q. How was your experience in ICCA?
ICCA has been an eye opener for both of us in terms of the food knowledge, not only on the theory side but also understanding the fundamental basics of classic cooking. The chefs have been great fun, knowledgeable and are very supportive to work with and the energy in the ICCA kitchen is amazingly inspiring; it does have the feeling of being an energetic happy family. It was also such an amazing opportunity that ICCA gave us to work with their teams at Taste of Dubai.
Q. Why didn’t you both pursue the professional program?
Neither of us had the desire to work in a professional hotel restaurant kitchen nor were we able to give the commitment of 6 long days a week, both having young children. We felt the course we chose was right for what we needed to achieve from it. Besides, one of my goals when signing up for the course was to meet someone like me with the dream of working in the food industry. Besides we are both too old to be on our feet that many hours a day, 6 days a week.
Q. Forgot to ask about Oscar and Jemima. Are they fond of food?
Georgie: Oscar is my 6-year-old son and Jemima is Karl’s daughter and she is 3. In Oscar’s case, ‘fond’ is an understatement. I am very lucky, as he will eat almost anything. You can guarantee he will ask me what’s for dinner when he wakes up in the morning and he always says; “it’s because your cooking is so delicious mummy”, (ha ha).
I think he’s biased. Jemima is younger than Oscar, so she is still exploring what she likes and doesn’t like, blueberry pancakes seem to be a favourite. I do think if children are brought up in a house where one or both of the parents cook they will have an interest in food and what they eat. I found Oscar experimenting the other day making himself dough for a pizza and then photographing it so I would say he has a healthy interest in food and is paying attention to what I am doing.