#NUTRITIONATLEITHS: TINCA LEAHY AND HER “ACCIDENTAL” RESTAURANT

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#NUTRITIONATLEITHS: TINCA LEAHY AND HER “ACCIDENTAL” RESTAURANT

Tinca Leahy on taking the scenic route to a career in culinary nutrition, that she never knew she always wanted.

As a music industry professional and a touring puppeteer, Tinca Leahy lived a colourful life on the road. It took the birth of her son and her beloved Spanish husband spending a cold and dreary winter in the English Midlands to instigate a move to sunny Andalusia about 15 years ago.

Her parents had bought a charming hotel near Granada, and with that began growing their own produce. A plethora of fresh ingredients were overtaking their lives and not knowing what to do with all, Tinca started pickling, jarring up homemade pesto’s, producing her own olive oils and then decided to try her hand at opening up a garden restaurant at the hotel. The only small obstacle was that Tinca had no culinary experience.

The family were happy that they had a way to share the wonderful food they were growing. Tinca was living a dream she never knew she wanted, and as the concept developed she loved her job but always felt she was doing it the hard way.

When Tinca Leahy felt it was time to get some professional culinary skills under her belt, she was so pleased to learn that Leiths offered accredited professional courses online. She got her wifi ready and started her Leiths journey from the comfort of her own home kitchen from Spain and hasn’t looked back.

Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you ended up working in food?

I'm from London and a music business background. As a kid, I spent years touring with various bands and this definitely started a love affair with eating great food in interesting places. After University, I spent two years training to be a puppeteer with the London School of Puppetry. I went on to spend the next 15 years working and touring in theatre whilst also starting my own record label. Aside from being obsessed with food, I didn't have any experience until I “accidentally” set up a garden restaurant in our family hotel. It was an idyllic place my parents had bought in Southern Spain amongst the olive groves at the foot of the Alpujarra mountains.

How did you “accidentally” start a restaurant?

As a result of growing an abundance of produce, keeping chickens, making my own extra virgin olive oil, setting up a poly tunnel, along with the wealth of fresh fruits, I realised I was in a climate in which you can pretty much grow anything all year round and something had to be done with all of this quickly growing produce. That is how our garden restaurant came to be.

At what point did you feel you wanted to up skill?

I immediately realised that I was way out of my depth but we learned a lot and quickly. Somehow the family made it work but it wasn’t easy. One summer I decided to hire a Leiths diploma student to come out and work for us for a few weeks. When I saw how she handled herself in the kitchen and worked, I knew I needed and wanted to learn those skills.

Has the Nutrition in Culinary Practice online course shifted your approach to food?

As I'm based in Andalusia, I wanted to study online. The course has made me think very differently about how I prepare food from the start. Waiting longer before seasoning for example, seeing if spices and lemon juice can do the job, cooking with different types of fats and using natural sugars were an immediate shift. I’ve also opened up to the world of complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, various types of rice and lentils used in salads to prepare dishes in new ways for my clients.

How do you feel the course will impact on your career going forward?

I’m currently in the middle of the summer season with my chef partner. With the travel situation our client profile has changed from international tourists to Spanish locals. I do a pop up curry club with my other chef partner once a week which is mainly vegetarian and has definitely been influenced by the Nutrition In Culinary Practice online course combined with my deep love of spices. Going forward I would really love to work as a nutritionist alongside my chef work. I find it completely fascinating understanding the different properties of food and I have a firm goal to add this to my professional skill set.

Has the course brought any wow moments or game changing skills?

My biggest moment of enlightenment has been discovering my extreme over use of olive oil. I now have an understanding of using fats properly and not overusing them to capture the flavours that I’m looking to achieve. Working out the glycemic loads of various foods is truly eye opening and definitely makes me think more deeply about food choices - what I’m feeding myself, my own family and my clients.

My favorite dish from the course is the Keralan Cod and Spiced Coriander Chutney from the unit on Herbs and Spices, and the oven baked Smoky chickpeas is a definite crowd pleaser for quick and delicious snacking or to add texture and a good hot of healthy protein to a salad or soup.

Do you have any advice for others with a dream of cooking for a living, and how to make a start toward a career in food?

If you want to take your passion for food further, I couldn't imagine a better place to start than Leiths. As I'm based abroad, I have only studied with Leiths online. The level of teaching is outstanding and I can't begin to imagine what it must be like in the actual Leiths kitchens!

*

Tinca now works as a private chef, living in the glorious foothills of Grenada and is midway through studying on Leiths' Nutrition and Culinary Practice online course. She continues to build her career in food with an aim to add the title of nutritionist to the skillset that she offers her private clients.

You can follow her adventures in food and nutrition on instagram @miss_dottie_p or via her website at www.privatechefgranada.com.

If you want to master nutrition skills for health and wellbeing with this 20-week Accredited online course follow the link to learn more about Nutrition In Culinary Practice online course: https://www.leiths.com/online-courses/nutrition-in-culinary-practice-online-course


Explore all Leiths nutrition courses here.

Author: Pamela Daniels

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