Australian-born, London-based Lara Lee is a chef and co-founder of Kiwi & Roo; a catering company bringing Antipodean cuisine to the streets of London with their popular street food, supperclubs and private events. Last year, Lara also wrote her first cookbook Coconut & Sambal which celebrates her Indonesian heritage and reveals the secrets behind the authentic, little-known cuisine of this beautiful country. Selected by the New York Times as one of the best cookbooks of 2020, it’s needless to say that Lara’s first literary venture has been a huge success.
Growing up dreaming of being a writer, Lara studied Media and Writing at university, but without the means to afford going down the unpaid intern route post-uni, she went on to work in the world of technology sales for ten years. “Alongside writing, my other passion was cooking, and I started a street food stall as a side hustle during my corporate career. The stall was a smash hit, which gave me the confidence to quit my job and enrol on the Leiths diploma in the hope that I may one day write a cookbook, a marriage of both my passions.”
“Leiths was warm, inviting and immaculately organised. I was so impressed at the open day I attended in 2014 that I decided then and there to attend (although it took me 2.5 years of savings before I could eventually enrol). I loved that they taught us all skills, from the very basics of scrambling an egg to clarifying a broth. The top things I gained were self-belief, working under pressure and running a seamless dining experience.”
After graduating from Leiths, Lara spent a year building up her catering business Kiwi & Roo, which has gone from strength to strength catering at venues from the Royal Academy of Arts to the Natural History Museum. Whilst at Leiths, Lara started developing her cookbook concept, and 7 months after graduating it was signed by Bloomsbury Publishing and 3 years later it has been published!
“The world is online now and it will become easier for students to overcome the traditional barrier to entry in the food media. The media are being held accountable to represent voices of origin and underrepresented groups, so if you have a story to tell, share it, shout about it, get it published and be part of the change. I’m really excited about the future of food media and the opportunities that will arise for graduates, food writers and chefs from all walks and backgrounds.”