After studying Developmental Biology at Edinburgh University and gaining a Masters and an MPhil, Daniela Gattegno spent three years as a research fellow at the Veterinary School at Edinburgh University.
She realised that while the people and projects were all great, she just wasn’t happy in her day to day job. A bold and brave decision and a delve into the unknown, Daniela left her research job to pursue her passion.
With a love of cooking that grew from a young age, she decided to enrol on a cookery course and see where it took her. Daniela explains; “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do but I knew cooking was something I loved. I wanted to do a six month course because I felt it might lead to something and change my path.
I thought about Leiths in London but I loved Edinburgh and it felt like home, so I signed up to The Edinburgh New Town Cookery based on its reputation for excellence.
“I really wanted to give it my best shot and prove to myself I’d made the right decision. I sold my car to pay for the course and to this day, I know it was the right thing for me. I was determined to do a six month course as I thought it would give me time to figure out what I wanted to do and also give me the right skills should it feel right to embark on a new career in food. I wasn’t sure what career that was but I did know I wanted to work with food.
“The course was pretty intense and I learnt so much. Practically, the course at The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School was what I expected but I learnt a lot more theory about the science of food than I thought I would.
These were really valuable skills and helped me see what worked in food and how to enhance produce in the best possible way. I learned a lot of other helpful lessons too about working with other people as well as time management which can be one of the biggest pressures in a kitchen.
“I never really thought I would gain enough skills to work in a restaurant but I even surprised myself! Fiona Burrell at The New Town Cookery School helped me to arrange work experience with renowned chef Tony Singh at his previous restaurant Olorosso and at Michelin star restaurant Castle Terrace with Chef Dominic Jack.
Most of my time there was observing, but as it was my first experience in a professional kitchen, I found it fascinating to see how a kitchen and front of house run as it was my first experience of a professional kitchen.”
After the course finished, Daniela had found a taste for restaurant life and started sending her CV to select restaurants in London. She was lucky to get a job at Ottolenghi in Notting Hill where she has worked since September 2012.
“My day starts pretty early but I look forward to going to work now. I’ve been there almost a year but I’m still constantly learning every day.
For me, a change of direction and a cookery course gave me the skills and knowledge to not only decide what made me happy, but to also gain the skills I needed to happily, but slightly scarily at times embark on a brand new career. I genuinely haven’t looked back since.”