Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you became a chef?
My name is Tara and I run Tara Cookery! I actually didn't start cooking until I went to university. I was living with 10 other people in a shared house, so I had lots of people to cook for. I was in history and economics in university, and I remember talking to my mom about what I was going to do after. I told her all I really want to do is cook and she was like, “Well, you know that can be a job, right?” I hadn't really thought about it like that. I was then really fortunate to go to cooking school for a year after university. It was brilliant being surrounded by like-minded people that all think food is the best thing in the world. After cooking school, I worked in India, then came back and started working in restaurants. Then three years ago I started Tara Cookery. The idea was to go to people's homes and teach them how to cook in their own kitchens. Because you can certainly go do a fancy course, but when you go home you don’t know what to do, or where to start. The first thing I did was teach people how to make cheese, I think it's because I'm obsessed with cheese. I did three cheese classes a week! I think I've taught just about everyone I know how to make mozzarella. Since then, I’ve had groups of people doing it for birthdays, a couple’s weekly Tuesday at home, someone’s housekeeper or children. Lots of different types of people. Now due to the changes in 2020, I am doing every single thing virtually on zoom. It's a bit of a different thing. People do their own shopping and cleaning. It’s not like they just show up and have a glass of wine. It's different, but it's still great. I really think it's going well.
You also co-founded The Feconomy, what is and how did it come about?
I co-founded The Feconomy with an influencer called Pip Jolly. She approached me up at a charity event about being the chef for events with the female economy in mind. Essentially it is an events company that only uses food and drink from females. Obviously, there were a few things like salt and pepper that we never managed to find, but we did a good job. Every product and brand we used had to be either female or couple led, but basically that the female hasn't been left behind. It was great because that meant you really look for your ingredients and have a conversation with the people supplying them. You also get such good quality stuff. We held brunch clubs and supper clubs. At the beginning, we also ran a podcast with it. So, anyone that came to the event, we would start a conversation about a topic to do with the female economy. We were full steam ahead and were about to do some fantastic events, then obviously, with Corona, they stopped. There was no way around it. So, we are just basically hibernating on it, and then hopefully, bringing it back.
Did you know what you wanted to do as a child?
No definitely not. Maybe decorating cakes, because I liked eating cakes! I just knew I didn't want to do anything at a desk. I really respect anyone that can, I just can't do it.
Is there anything you suggest for people trying to do what you do?
I don't want to put people off in any single way, but what I always tell people is that before they decide they want to be a chef is to make sure they realise how much of the job is cleaning. People don't really realise that half the job clearing up. That, and then just to cook all the time, and that it doesn't have to be fancy ingredients. Now we're so lucky, there's literally 1000 million people you can follow on Instagram for inspiration. I also love to collect old cooking books, so just go to an old book shop and get all sorts of cooking books. That’s a really fun way to get inspired as well.
How has Covid been? How has it impacted you? Whether it be career wise or personally?
The first lockdown I was really lucky to be with my boyfriend's family in the countryside. I hadn’t started doing the classes virtually at that time, I just did videos on Instagram for free. Now that we’re in the third lockdown I was like, there's only one way I've got to keep going. Otherwise, what am I going to do? I was really nervous about putting the classes online, I just thought no one would sign up to them. But thankfully they have had a really great response. And for me it’s been great as well selfishly, every single evening I get to see 10 faces! It's really nice and lots of different ages again. Last Friday, I did a puddings class at lunchtime with a 12 year old and a 40 year old man. We chatted about how lockdown was while we made chocolate mousse and apple crumble. The other really great thing about it, is people are buying classes for their family members all over the world. So, I've had a dad in Singapore, daughter in Geneva and a son in London all taking a class together. I did a class for a mom's birthday the other day and her sons were making curry at 6am in Australia! It’s funny because this would have never come about if not for lockdown. So, I'm actually loving it, but I don't know what's going to happen. I've got all these ‘in real life’ classes in the pipeline waiting to happen, which will still happen, but I wonder if the virtual stuff will continue as well.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Meeting new people! I wouldn't be able to do something if it wasn’t client facing. And I love the many different ages of these people. I love that I can be teaching a 10 year old, and having a really in depth conversation with them about something. And then the next day I can be teaching a man in his 70s how to make scrambled eggs. I just find that so fun!
What is the toughest part of your job?
Cleaning up late at night. Once everyone leaves there's two hours of cleaning to do. And you never want to rush them after, especially if they’re having a great time!
What is your favourite thing to cook?
Italian food in general! I must admit when it's just myself, I'll probably have dried pasta. But I do love making fresh pasta and teaching others how to make it, it's very therapeutic. It's also not that hard, really impressive and just so delicious.
Go-to healthy meal to cook?
Asian slaw! It's basically whatever vegetables you have, finely julienned with a really punchy dressing. You can add green apple, as well as like carrots and cabbage, you get both the sweet and sour. It’s really tasty, and you don't feel like it's some sort of diet food.
Go-to unhealthy meal to cook?
A big bowl of pasta with loads of cheese and whatever else.
Favourite Place in the world/your happy place?
God, think of all the places we can't go to right now! I would say swimming in the sea. Hmm, that sounds nice, like a long distant memory.
What is something you do to relax/care for yourself?
A bath is my favourite thing in the world! And now that I'm in lockdown I’ve gone completely bonkers with them. I just moved into new flat with my boyfriend and we got sent quite a few flowers, which is so lovely, but we didn't have any furniture to put them on. So I started putting them around the bath. I've just put out candles too. It's so nice lying in it just surrounded by nice smelling things.
What’s next on your journey? Any goals you’re focusing on?
It's so hard because you can't really predict anything, can you? I would have never thought I would have been saying, nailing the virtual cooking. But at the moment, it's getting all this virtual stuff really neat. But my goal, say COVID didn't exist, is to complete all of the lovely classes I have booked with in real life. And of course, to continue the Feconomy as well.