Ibolya Olah is one of our newest Chef recruits to our Oxford Circus cookery school and brings with her a wealth of nutritional knowledge as a qualified dietitian and experienced Chef.Book a cooking class
Tell us a little about your experience as a chef
I graduated as a dietitian many years ago and obtained a masters degree in Food & Nutrition Sciences. I have been interested in cooking since I was 10. At college I learnt the basic cooking techniques and how to apply them at dietary requirements. I worked for a while as a freelancer dietitian but I didn't like to be the 'bad guy' who always tell You what you can't eat! So I decided it's time to approach from a different aspect. So I started to teach a range of tasty and healthy cooking classes at L'atelier des Chefs and in short time I've become an addict of food. We get to read and experiment a lot and whenever I had a chance I visited my Chef colleagues lessons to learn more. I first fell in love with cooking when I started to work as a food stylist as well and I've combined the nutrition knowledge with the science of cooking. When I moved to London I started to work in the Royal National Theatre as a chef and I was lucky to experience how it feel to work in a fine dining restaurant, a cafe and a canteen. Plus I got to cook form many actors, actresses and directors!
What attracted you to teaching?
I thought that it's not enough sometimes to know just how to be a good cook, you need to know how to get the very best nutrition and flavours from your food. So L'atelier des Chefs is the perfect for me to keep updating my knowledge and share what I've learnt with you lovely foodies! It is amazing how food can make everybody happy and to see on the people's face the satisfaction of cooking great dishes by their own with some guidance is priceless. I love socialising and being around people and having a good conversation about world cuisine and ingredients.
What is your signature dish?
I think I have more "signature ingredients". Whenever I cook something it needs to contain some kind of vegetables (onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, tomatoes...), herbs are essential for me (basil, coriander, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves...) and some Asian or Mediterranean spices & sauces.
What is your favourite class to teach and why?
At first I would have been 100% sure that I'd say one of the European cuisines (French, Spanish, Italian..) However, my answer now would be to teach any of our wide range of Asian classes. There are so many lovely spices and sauces that are not widely known. Teaching someone how to cook an amazing curry or how to make a flat bread, or how to steam and fold dumplings is a great pleasure.
What advice do you have for budding chefs?
My advice would be simple; experiment with unknown ingredients and never give up. If something doesn't turn out as you expected it doesn't mean that your idea was wrong. Believe it or not most of the famous dishes created by an accident! I believe as Gusteau said in the cartoon called Ratatouille "Good food is like music you can taste, colour you can smell" and "Everyone can cook but only the fearless can be great".