Please tell us about your business and what you do?
I’m the head pastry chef and founder of a brand called La Maison De Kait in UAE. We specialise in gourmet vegan pastries and desserts. Our mission is to challenge everyone’s taste buds and to change the way that people view veganism.
What is veganism?
Veganism means to avoid consuming any ingredient that is derived from animals such as dairy, eggs, meat, fish etc. The vegan market in the UAE has grown significantly in the last few years because more people are choosing this lifestyle either for environmental reasons, ethical reasons or allergy reasons. Veganism will play a large part in the world’s sustainable future and I’m proud to be supporting this revolution. Vegan life is not a compromise; it should be excellent quality, gourmet taste, and a better choice.
What are your most popular products?
My personal favourite is the Victoria sponge cake. We use only the best quality ingredients, no shortcuts, no preservatives, and each piece is handmade, and hand-packed. I’m a big believer that you get out what you put in, so we use the best ofcourse.
Tell us about your professional journey
My first introduction to the food industry started with the initial curiosity of how to make buttercream. I joined a cake decorating class almost a decade ago for this one reason alone, and my endless fascination grew from there. Once I joined the world of cake decorating, I shortly went on to win first prize in the famous Cake Boss Middle East competition, hosted by celebrity chef Buddy Valastro. And this win is what encouraged me to take my ambitions to the next level through culinary school. I love pushing boundaries of food and exploring new avenues. My obsession with veganism first began with vegan macarons, and then expanded to cakes, brownies, cheesecakes, and now here we are, one of the UAE’s leading vegan dessert brands.
Did you always aspire to become a professional baker?
No. I just loved to eat cake. Prior to my culinary life, I was actually working in financial services as a chartered accountant and corporate tax consultant in the UK. I know the two professions are world’s apart but the mathematical foundation and obsession for precise calculations has certainly played a pivotal role in the kitchen and with my recipe innovations.
What was the most challenging part of your career?
Several years ago I had a back injury, which led me to being paralysed. I was also pregnant at the time and I couldn’t take medication so it was high risk. This was probably the hardest thing to come back from, because it took a lot of mental and physical energy to regain my strength and movement. But as any chef knows, kitchen life is very taxing, both physically and mentally and requires top form so this can sometimes still be a challenge on very long days.
What motivates you?
I’m a bit of a people-pleaser, so nothing motivates me more than client feedback. I often get messages from strangers telling me that they’ve enjoyed my products and that I’ve made a difference in their lives, and that means the world to me. Of course, I also welcome criticism too, without it we can never reach perfection, so it is equally, or more valuable than positive feedback.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m a ‘work hard, play hard’ type of a girl. When I’m not working, I love fine dining, partying, or sitting on the beach at sunset with my family, and I’m also partial to the odd bit of Netflix in between!
Any advice to future budding chefs and entrepreneurs?
In this day and age, there is a lot of competition in business. Barriers to entry for small businesses are certainly getting higher. But my best advice is to focus on making your own product the best that it can be. People cannot deny quality, and that will be your ladder over the big barrier. In a world of mass production and standardisation, people will always seek ‘something special’. Aim to be that something special.