It has been a while since I last caught up with Shenlely Moore – she knows everything there is to know about food! Mum of 2 gorgeous boys, Shenley knows all about being a busy parent, working in the food industry and having an addictive love of food. Not only is Shenley a brilliant chef but she was my teacher at Leiths School of Food and Wine. Interviewing Shenley is such an honour.
Thank you so much for taking 5 minutes out of your busy schedule Shenley to share your story, I really appreciate it.
How did you first get involved with food? Where did this love affair begin? Please tell us about your journey…
I grew up around lovely food my mum was a very good home cook and my father had a real flare with food too/ experimental!
I ran a Guest house and my office was in the kitchen and I crept closer and closer to the hobs and the next thing I knew I was cooking all the food! I gave up my job, moved back home and trained to be a Chef at a renowned Durban cooking school, I worked on a wine farm in Capetown called Buitenverwachting which means – beyond expectation which really sums up my experiences. The Head chef was Austrian which really influenced my pastry training. I moved to London to further my cooking and worked at Bibendum for 3 1/2 years , I worked larder, oyster bar and became the pastry chef. I remember in my first week of being there I was so nervous/petrified and I had to cook staff dinner and I asked Head chef Matthew Harris to check if the sausages were cooked, I will never forget his face or his reply for that matter along the lines of ‘ what have I done hiring someone who doesn’t even know if a sausage is cooked’ eek, needless to say my career went from strength to strength and I served the likes of ex president Clinton, Elton John and Kylie Minogue, Emma Thompson sent me a thank you card for a fantastic dessert and one customer wouldn’t leave the restaurant until they sent me out so he could thank me for his delicious dessert!
When the long nights and early mornings took their toll I knew I needed to stay working with food but to change direction and I found myself at Leiths and taught there for 6 1/2 years. It was so important to me to impart knowledge and passion for the students and I loved watching them grow from learning to cook an egg to fine dining standard of cooking, it was incredibly rewarding.
You launched Shenley Moore Profession Chef in 2011, what was the inspiration behind the brand?
Shenley Moore Professional Chef came to life after I took time out to start a family. We were living in Switzerland and all the expat mothers loved coming to lessons and demonstrations. It was incredibly important for me to keep my skills up to date. I kept the brand as my name because the industry moves and changes so quickly, I didn’t want to put myself in a particular box – baking, cakes for example, I need my clients to understand they are buying my skills and I will create or teach whatever they would like or want to learn.
It has been very important for me that my teaching and catering can fit around my family. Sometimes its tricky with boys and little hands reaching up onto counters and sticking fingers into the side of a beautifully iced cake, but generally it works really well for me.
How important is sourcing your ingredients?
Sourcing ingredients is important and I use small local businesses as much as possible. If someone says they really enjoyed the meat for example I refer them to my source – usually my local butcher, I try and support these business as much as possible. I use the website producedinkent.co.uk to source local ingredients and for people with specialist skills and delicious goodies.
Can you tell us any exciting projects you may be working on? Have you cooked for any celebrities?
I am a tutor at Good housekeeping cookery school and I taught Amelia Fox just before Christmas , she is exactly like on tv. I have helped Dame Kelly Holmes for the last year to design her menu and to launch her Café 1809.
I am also currently working in East Sussex with Sarah Raven. It’s all pretty exciting. I am so fortunate thatI love what I do as it is also hard work!
Can you share any of your favourite rainy day activities with the kids?
I very often get my kids involved with baking and cooking especially on a wet day, their favourite is gingerbread men and quite often just like to eat the dough! Every friday we have Pizza Fridays where the boys and I make and cook their own pizza. When the boys are not too tired from school I like to get them involved in making their own dinner as it is very soul destroying when you make them something yummy and they refuse it. I find if they help make their food they are more receptive to eating it!
For inspiration I frequent FoodForKids.com a lot! and have just bought the 5 o’clock apron and the boys love the meatballs from there.
Any top tips on how to juggle being a working mum?
Juggling being a working mum…. its tricky!! Last year I made the mistake of not turning down jobs and my son said to me one day, “Mummy please take off your apron and come and play” and I knew in had to step back and re assess what I was doing. So far this year I have found a better balance and still find time to play knights with them.
What top food and nutritional tips would you give mums who aren’t confident in the kitchen?
Don’t be afraid in the kitchen, if you’re cooking from scratch its healthier than most of the stuff you pick up on the shelf and definitely get the kids involved even if you think its too much hassle. The looks on their faces when the cook something they can eat is great. Be organised.
When you’re not busy working and on mummy-duty, what do like to do to unwind and relax?
To relax I have a couple of girlfriends I go running with and we get to have a good chat so its really therapeutic.
What advice would you give our readers who want to start their own business?
I would say to any busy mom even if you think you are too busy to possibly take on starting a new venture, just go for i! It’s amazing what us moms can achieve! It’ll be a lot of juggling to start but you’ll find your footing and you’ll look back and say, “why was I so scared?!“
Do you have a your motto?
I don’t have a motto as such, but believe in yourself and you abilities, don’t be unkind to yourself , GO for It!
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