After years of hoarding hundreds of recipes in folders, lugging them all around the world, and storing them randomly in organised chaos scattered to all corners of the house, Julia Toon, a seasoned chef from UK, finally decided to get with the times and provide a collective hub for her best-loved recipes.
“My website features secret gems from my experience working as a cook, from friends and family over the years, that are presented simply as an easy reference source for those people who share my passion for cooking”, says Julia, who has recently launched her website containing the recipes spanning over 40 years of her experience.
Food preparation is Julia’s passion, during which she has had run her own food company, have worked as a personal chef to renowned people in politics, business, entertainment, and have been lucky enough to get her work published in different magazines.
Julia, who has worked extensively in the UK, Greece, Spain, New Zealand, has been having an active life in Qatar for 20 years. “I think there is nothing like my website in the country. While I live in Qatar, the website is for Qatar. I am here to promote Qatar to the world. Even when I leave the country, Qatar will still be a part of what I do.”
Julia, whose biggest career delight was working as a personal cook to actor Harrison Ford, film director Steven Spielberg and his partner film producer George Lucas, has been adapting the international recipes in accordance with the local food culture. “There are recipes on my website that have been tweaked for the Qatari lifestyle. The portal is diverse as is Qatar. You see a mix of recipes. I have started collaborating with Cooking Academy Qatar, an initiative of a Qatari female chef. I will further experiment with the Qatari delicacies.”
The seasoned chef, who has also been privileged to cater for prime ministers and members of the UK Parliament and for the chairmen of corporations, including British Shipbuilders, Sotheby’s Antiques House, Clarke Shoes, Mulberry and Danka UK, calls Qatar a land of opportunity. “There are many things going on but you have to look out for them. I have been blessed to have connections with people of different countries. When I came here, I wanted to know more about Qatar’s food culture. Is there any difference? What is that difference? I thought even if there could be a fusion of different cuisines or not. And I have come to the conclusion that I it can.
“In my earlier days in Doha, I used to be spellbound by the food and vegetable markets here. It is an old tradition. I was able to buy fresh and readily available vegetables and fruits. I have not been a big fan of going to a supermarket. I would rather go to a certain store to buy certain ingredients. I buy all Qatar produced fresh vegetables and fruits. I always love fresh items because I always like to take people closer to their roots [nature]. I think we should consume less packaged or preserved food items. Where it is possible, I prefer quality over quantity.”
Julia’s two children are also very good at cooking. “There is influence of my cooking on my children. My daughter is very creative. She is a successful interior designer in London. She is naturally artistic and a creative person. My son is really good at cooking. He cooks with all his heart. He wants to be a master chef.”
Julia’s career in food has always been varied. Starting at the age of 19, she has been a successful entrepreneur. The website launch is her new venture and she thinks that it is very challenging to kick off with a new business idea. “The biggest hurdle (point) is to believe in yourself. You need to believe in yourself and in your ability. It is inner belief and inner assurance. You need to tell yourself that you can do this. You will get knock-backs. But, knock-backs are there to learn from and move forward.
“I would advise the young entrepreneurs that they should never give up. Hard work reaps just rewards. I believe you cannot get anywhere without hard work. I have not got anywhere without hard work. You are a brand for yourself. I can sell what I do. You have to believe in what you do. You have walls some days and things do not go right but learn from that. You need to take up challenges and never be afraid of it. There will be people who say that you cannot do that. Do not listen to them and keep following your objective. If keep going, the universe will deliver.”
Julia, who has also written a book named Good Easting: A Taste of Qatar, is a fan of Mediterranean food. “I am a great believer in seasonal food and seasonal easting. In some areas of Greece, family traditions hold so strong. They seem to use home grown ingredients.”
The chef with the vast experience believes that both tasty and healthy food can go together. “We should both healthy and tasty food. The two actually go together. I am an advocate of good health. I always go for the simplistic food – the real food – such as butter, milk, cream, and simple vegetables etc. These are the kinds of food unadulterated by science.” Julia’s website is julesofthekitchen.com/about-me/
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