Meet our Member: Soha Darwish
- Food Writer
- The Culinary Creator
I can best describe myself as a culinary creator who creates all food related arts – recipes, menus and food literature. I am ultimately a foodie who decided to take her passion and extensive food knowledge to the next level – a professional level. Therefore, I became a food writer, culinary consultant and a food blogger.
Where are you from? Which Emirate do you live in?
I am Egyptian by birth and British by citizenship. We relocated to Abu Dhabi from London in 2014, so it has almost been 6 years for us here.
What would you like the community to know?
I would like to share with them the my 3-in-1 foodie profile:
- The Food writer: I have a Food Journalism Diploma from London and I am now a recognised member of the UK Guild of Food Writers – after my work has been reviewed by the respectful committee. I regularly publish my food spreads/articles in Identity magazine.
- The Culinary Consultant: I have been an active menu consultant since 2014, I collaborated on many projects across the Middle East e.g. Lebanon, Egypt, and the UAE. My work scope includes menus formulation & design for restaurants as well as for catering business. It also covers menu revamps and copywriting for existing menus. My latest project was with Bateel in Dubai, and I’m currently collaborating with Walayem – a start-up Emirati app for homemade food delivery on an upcoming project.
- The Food Blogger: Almost a year ago, I decided to start a blog where I can share and showcase my published food recipes and spreads, as well as my consultancy work to connect more with my readers and potential clients. Then, it evolved to sharing my home-recipe creations which is the core of my food passion – I am basically a recipe creator. The feedback I’m getting is very positive, and the most common thing that I hear from my followers after watching my video recipes, that they feel motivated and more confident than ever to venture into the kitchen and cook. My style is creative recipes with simple ingredients that are easy to make and follow yet deliver big delicious flavours!
What should we ask about you?
What is my most cherished recipe creation?
I have quite a unique recipe collection, and I must admit that I’m more of a savoury person than a dessert lover. So, I usually feel more creative and joyful while cooking my savoury dishes inspired from cuisines all over the world. But I have to say that my ‘Baklava Mille-Feuille with pistachio cream’ has blown me away with pure amazement. I imagined it as a fusion dessert in my Ramadan 2020 spread ‘Fine Dine at Home’, making sure that every component is accessible, and the execution would be really easy. Once I did it and tried it with my family, we could not believe how wonderful and exquisite it tasted. We have never even tried something close; it instantly became a house favourite. I am glad that I took a video of the recipe and got to share it with my supportive followers on my blogs. It was a huge success, and I would humbly call it ..Utter Genius!
How has the COVID-19 coronavirus affected you, and what changes have you put in place to support yourself during this challenging time?
Covid-19 has shaken my world like anyone else on the globe. But, I think we can say now that there is a silver lining to this unprecedented lockdown. We have adapted to this huge change in our lifestyle and managed to find our rhythm realising that leading a much slower pace of life is not a bad thing. I wrote in my last article that our ‘normal’ was not essentially healthy, and it had to be revised. As for my work, I think I benefited from this forced break especially in the first 2 months, as like many other households our kitchen has become busier than ever, and I finally got the time to share and post my everyday cooking as well as my home-staple creative recipes. My blog became more active and my video editing skills have significantly improved. Moreover, I started conducting my work meetings through Zoom – it was surprisingly very productive. Lastly, I decided to use the time in branding my profile and I am so pleased with the outcome. Looking back, if I didn’t get to spend all these months at home, cutting out the daily hectic family routine which involved long drives to after-school activities plus other time-consuming social commitments – I would have never accomplished all this in this relatively short space of time.
What advice do you have for others regarding changes to their way of life, based on your expertise or experience?
Go after your passion and dreams, do not hide from them or bury them away in your daily jobs or commitments. When you do what you love, you rise above all your struggles and problems. Your goal becomes a beacon that guides you when you are lost and or having doubts.
What is an experience that has helped shape you?
I want to share with you how my career evolved, and how I chased my dreams of having a career in food. I am originally an engineer with bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. Having lived in London for a decade before moving to Abu Dhabi, definitely shaped the foodie in me. With London’s unique dining scene, I was constantly exposed to a diversity of cuisines with a wealth of accessible ingredients expanding my horizon and passion for experimenting with food. But something else happened along, I was having the time of my life watching and following all those brilliant British TV cooking shows. I was amazed with the knowledge, professionalism and the level of dedication to food. I particularly got a bit obsessed with Nigella Lawson, her home-cooking style resonated with me the most. I was mesmerised by her language when describing textures and flavours; she is an Oxford graduate; you can imagine the rich and articulate vocabulary she uses. It was music to my ears; I remember I would sleep with her voice echoing in my mind. I wanted to write and talk about food liker her. Meanwhile, I was constantly creating recipes and when I do, I get fully immersed in the process, more like I switch to alpha brain-mode. It’s definitely a form of meditation, I find myself adding ingredients and developing recipes mindfully from my heart – if that makes sense! I then realised that I tend to forget what I did exactly after a couple of days, so I felt that I need to write down my recipes – hence the nucleus for my food writing career. The next thing, I started my diploma in food journalism, the feedback I was getting from my tutors was remarkable and boosted my confidence and motivation. Lastly, not having permanent help in London, made me develop my recipes and cooking style around cutting corners in the kitchen chores – delivering big flavours with minimal effort and hassle. I think this what made people connect with my recipes and cooking style in this relatively short time on my blogs.
Tell us a short story that matters to you
I always believe that cooking for someone in difficult time/situation is one of the strongest acts of care and love. Six years ago, when I was in the middle of moving from London to Abu Dhabi, packing ten years of my life in my beloved London in boxes was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do – while looking after my family. In the last week with everything packed and ready to be shipped, we were relying on food delivery and eating out. In between all the craziness, I visited my dear friend Amina, who saw clearly how exhausted and miserable I was, so without asking me she took it on herself to make me a simple bowl of salad with fresh greens and avocado. Not sure if she remembers, but this salad bowl touched me to the core. I felt loved and nourished, it was exactly what my body and soul needed. I remember I swallowed my tears with my salad, as I didn’t want to open up and breakdown. I was on switch-on mode to execute my tick list day by day. Just few weeks ago, I found myself in a similar situation with my very dear friend Ann Marie leaving Abu Dhabi. I did almost the same by choosing to pass by her house with her favourite dish from my food in her last night here. She was exhausted and I know she would need it. This dish was my last parting gift and was my last act of love to her before she goes. I wanted to say that I will dearly miss her and that she means a lot to me through food – as I choked up whenever I try to express my sorrow and sadness. Yes, food is very powerful!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you are facing obstacles that means you are actually growing and expanding. It is true, if you stay where you are without progressing then you will never face obstacles and challenges – it’s part of growing.
What is your favourite quote?
“Rise Above the Storm & You Will See The Sunshine.”
Favourite thing to do in the UAE?
Dining out and beach picnics.
What’s one thing not many people know about you?
I very rarely follow a recipe, and that I rely totally on my palate. I would literally try food without knowing the recipe, but I still somehow identify each ingredient. I do my grocery shopping and try to replicate what I ate; the result is always fascinating to me and my husband. How I captured the essence of the dish? I still have no answer for that, it might not be the exact version as I believe every cook is unique, but all the key flavours are there with my take.
If you didn’t do what you do, what would you choose to do instead?
Fashion Design. I appreciate the fine details in clothes so much.
What are three ways can our community help you?
1. Not to underestimate menu developing and writing. It should be done by a professional, rather than a last-minute job by an unqualified person. I regard menus as the first and most important interface between the customer and a dining venue – it should be given utmost care.
2. Spread the word about my journalism work, it would be exciting to contribute to several renowned magazines and newspaper in the region.
3. Follow my blogs to get a wider base of followers which hopefully would allow me to be considered for presenting a TV cooking show, with a totally different content and approach to what’s available now. This is actually one of my career dreams.
How can we get in touch with you?
Through my blogs and email. I am very approachable and I strive to promptly answer all the queries I get through my
Facebook: Soha Darwish – The Culinary Creator
Youtube: Soha Darwish – The Culinary Creator