Talia’s career to date has spanned over a diverse array of roles which all tie together with creativity at the heart. Along the way she has spent time as a recipe tester for HelloFresh, a Chef de Partie at Ottolenghi’s NOPI, a food stylist in Sydney, private chef, recipe writer and most recently part of the team at renowned restaurant NOMAD, famed for its focus on sustainable, zero-waste cookery. Currently based in rural Australia, she spends her days working in a farm kitchen with the freedom to cook whatever she pleases using the freshest local products, and handpicked fruit and vegetables. Talia grew up in London with her Turkish-Cypriot parents and has used her heritage to develop her deep appreciation for the cuisine. This is now apparent in her own cooking style which fuses classic dishes with rich Mediterranean flavours that defined her childhood.
“Before Leiths, I had a degree in Architecture and was working towards a career in property development. I was constantly switching between jobs and travelling in between to find a career I was happy with, but I hated working in a corporate office environment. Travelling was something that always excited my passion for food, and after returning from a long trip around South/Central America, it clicked to me that cooking is what I loved the most and that was what I was going to do. I started with a strong interest in food styling, assisting on any shoots I could (mostly for free). I then wanted to gain experience in professional kitchens, working as a commis chef for restaurants and catering companies.”
“From my varied experience in kitchens before Leiths, I was desperate to learn more about all sections of the kitchen, from meat prep to pastry work. Leiths offered a concise and modern culinary course, that uses classical teaching skills but stays up to date with new cooking trends.”
First on Talia’s agenda was a stage at NOPI, which had long been one of her favourite restaurants and somewhere she’d always hoped to work having drawn so much inspiration from Ottolenghi himself. Thereafter she was offered a full-time role as Chef de Partie, which “was a great experience and a huge learning curve working in a busy kitchen with almost 500 covers a day, especially after being in such a relaxed environment like Leiths.” She then moved to Sydney to pursue a position at NOMAD, where she was thrown in at the deep end amongst chefs with experience far more extensive than her own. “I was learning to prep meat and local Australian fish I had never even heard of, but having the basis of these techniques from Leiths was a huge help and it’s amazing how much the skills come back to you.”
“People are becoming more interested in food and mindful about what they eat, so I think the industry will keep growing and there will always be amazing opportunities. I’ve suffered a lot of ridicule working in restaurants as a vegetarian chef, and while I definitely see a positive shift in the industry, there is still further we can go in reducing meat and caring about where our food comes from. I hope the future of the industry will be at the forefront of this.”