There’s a lot of advice out there about being an entrepreneur, plus plenty of theoretical know-how that one can gain from business study. But the crux of the matter is: what’s it actually like at the coal-face?
There’s nothing better than learning from other people’s business experiences and, in a series of articles, we’ll be introducing you to some new entrepreneurs and how they’ve made it so far – in the hope that their stories and insights might inspire you to take the entrepreneurial plunge or provoke some thought for your own business.
One such role model is food expert Kumud Gandhi, founder of The Cooking Academy.
The Cooking Academy teaches people in a fun and enthusiastic way how to prepare and cook food that they can share with family and friends. The emphasis is placed on creating tasty and flavoursome dishes for a wide range of occasions and for all levels of cookery.
Kumud’s speciality was inspired both by her mother’s family, who are chemists in India, and her father’s, who are spice merchants. This blend of science and an appreciation of spices stimulated her unique approach to food. But first, she took a degree in Economics and International Marketing, before spending eight years in a well-run SME and a larger company too, where she learnt many of the practical aspects of business, with a particular emphasis on marketing.
With two young children, Kumud decided to stop full-time work, and took the opportunity to combine her love of cooking and her passion for tasty, healthy food by researching food science at The London Food Centre. This, together with her family background, led to her expertise in cooking with herbs and spices for nutritional and medicinal benefit and, what she calls, her ‘Alchemy of food’.
For several years Kumud honed her skills and expertise by setting up and running a successful up-market specialist catering business. She built up a reputation catering for many well-known clients including The Prince of Wales, Madonna, The Royal Academy and Fashion TV, to name but a few.
Her status as ‘The Spice Queen’ (a nickname coined by Nick Hoffer at the BBC) and the fact that many of her clients asked about cookery lessons for themselves or for their chefs was the impetus to set up The Cooking Academy in 2007.
Her cookery school now teaches her unique and nutritious ‘alchemy of food’ to hundreds of people throughout the UK and Europe. As well as running popular publicly available courses and social events for families and groups of friends, the school has built an extensive corporate client-base for both team-building events and corporate entertainment and hospitality.
As the ‘face’ of The Cooking Academy, she is often called upon to provide expert comment for national print media, TV and Radio.
Kumud’s energy and joie de vivre, coupled with a passion for great food, has stood her in good stead for the business’s success to date. Whilst ambitious, her business goals were realistic, and her scalable growth plans for the future remain focused on retaining the exceptional quality of service that she and her team currently provide at the school.
The WallaceBurch view: we’re impressed by how Kumud attained good quality business skills and experience before starting her own business – it’s not always vital, but it doesn’t half help! Her ability to combine responsibilities as a mumpreneur is also noteworthy. And by maintaining an exceptional customer-focus combined with a willingness to adapt the business to meet customer demand, she has most likely created an ongoing recipe for success.
The Cooking Academy can be found at www.thecookingacademy.co.uk
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