In our “Brand Yourself Creative” segment, we interview inspirational professionals who have added a creative twist to their personal brand. Here we interview the fabulous
Hülya Erdal Made By the Chef
Let’s start by learning about the different aspects of your personal brand. I know you have a few!
I am a professional chef, teacher, writer, lover of food and culture. I am also a Life Coach specialising in transformation and mindfulness, helping women to reconnect to their true essence and inner power, revive hopes and dreams and repurpose their skills for a fresh beginning. I use cooking therapy as a part of this.
I have been a professional chef for over 15 years, first running my own catering company, writing about food in a national newspaper column and ghost writer for various cookery books, then moving into teaching both at schools, colleges and private cookery schools. I have been featured in food magazines, been on TV and have a regular monthly slot on the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London. Prior to this, I was in PR and Marketing for many well known, international food companies.
In my coaching business, I am currently developing online courses and coaching one to one, guiding women who have reached a crossroads in their life, after experiencing a life adversity. I have a deep understanding and experience of domestic abuse and my purpose is to be of service to those that are looking to regain confidence and new energy. I use the hero’s journey as a basis to identify where my clients are in their own journey, understanding their experiences so I can guide them to strength and self-worth. I practice and teach mindfulness as a valuable healing tool as well as cooking therapy.
Here’s a taste of how Hülya brings these aspects of her personal brand together beautifully:
How did food and cooking become a central part of your brand (I.e., your story of how you came to be where you are today)?
I grew up in a Cypriot Turkish family, therefore our culture is predominantly centred around food, cooking and eating! I was raised in East London and having immigrant parents which meant I was exposed to our culture daily, particularly through food. Eating traditional dishes and experiencing ingredients that we could only buy from specific shops, was such a profound revelation for me, especially when school dinners were so very different, and bland to be honest. All of the female members of my immediate and extended family cooked, so I had some amazing and hugely professional teachers! I did go to Chef’s college, but my best knowledge and experience came from observing family members. Beats You Tube any day! Of course, the men of the family also had their skills, working the BBQ come rain or shine. It was an enriching childhood I shall always be grateful for.
Food is such a healing tool as much as it is to nourish us. I associate food with births, marriages, deaths and everything in between. Food has the power to unite us all in one great language that carries no discrimination or prejudice. Food offers hope and salvation. Food creates conversations and love. Food is the ultimate therapy when it’s been a long day. I love cooking and my goal is always to impart that passion on others. Cooking is such a vital life skills that we should all learn.
Do you tend to get creative with more traditional heritage dishes?
Absolutely. I love experimenting so may do mash-ups like middle eastern spiced shepherd’s pie or jazzing up a roast
chicken with mediterranean flavours! There’s no end of possibilities when it comes to cooking. I’m not a stickler for tradition or following the old, I like to modernise food and add my own little take on things. That’s what food and cooking is, it’s an expressive creation that is individual. As no two humans are the same, no two spag bols will taste the same. The beauty of it is that food can bring us all together as one. I believe in a world that is driven by love, compassion, kindness and understanding. That we all have integrity and lift each other up, no matter where we’re from or what we’re eating.
This is not to say I don’t like the more ‘traditional’ dishes. I love comfort food, dishes that evoke nostalgia. Food has the power to create memorable moments in time. Classic, traditional dishes are a wonderful way to learn about the history of a culture and people. I love the fact that family recipes have a habit of being adapted and as humans, we should all be the same. Flow with life and be fluid, as opposed to being rigid and closed to new ideas and change.
What have been your greatest inspirations along the way?
Family and culture. Where I grew up. Living in East London, in such a diverse community, growing up speaking two languages, travelling back to Cyprus on holiday and hanging out with family was probably the best childhood I could have ever asked for. It certainly shaped my outlook on life. I am very much a free spirit, allowing life to guide me. I was exposed to a colourful history and upbringing, with lots of shouting and gesticulations, very much a typical family day! Being from Cyprus is brilliant as our food is influenced by Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Near East. This has definitely made me who I am.
Has social media changed the way you’ve developed your brand?
For sure. Being able to reach a wider audience simply by tapping into an app is phenomenal. My work is incredibly visual and I have many messages to impart so I love the fact I can post pictures, recipes, quotes, tips, advice and more across a whole plethora of media.
I am as consistent as I try to be, although, it is nice to have a bit of a detox or a few days away sometimes. I love the engagement with others and knowing I’ve touched the life of someone, but sometimes it’s important to also understand that you are entitled to have some time away from it all too and not let rule your life!
Linkedin: Hulya Erdal
Pinterest: Hulya Erdal/Made by the Chef
You Tube: Made by the Chef / The Recipe For Life