|Entering the "secret garden"|
When I say "new", I do mean new. Sonia only started her business 3 months ago and has been "cooking with gas" ever since (pardon the corny food pun!) However, it's been a dream of Sonia's for a very long time. She had always wanted to start her own catering business, but never got around to it. It was when she was doing a short business course recently, that someone suggested she start Lebanese cooking classes in her home. This sparked something in Sonia, and as soon as she got home that night, she posted an ad on Facebook and immediately had people book in for her first class! (She has a reputation for being a very good cook).
|Me with the lovely Sonia!|
She has always loved to entertain and cook for her family and friends. She says it's her way of expressing love and it's her "time-out" from life. Just before starting her business though, Sonia was going through a difficult time in her life, and needed a new and different focus. This is when she decided it was time to do something specifically for herself, and began to focus on making her dream become a reality.
Her business is two-fold: a catering business and a cooking class in her home. She cooks all types of food in the catering side of things, but at the moment, the classes are for people interested in learning how to make Lebanese food particularly. This may expand to other types of cuisine in the future, but Sonia also aims to go into technical colleges, high schools and vocational colleges, which I think would be wonderful as she is such a lovely and fun teacher!
|Sonia always has a smile on her face!|
What do your friends and family think of your business?
They've been most supportive and some of them try to find new clients for me which is very kind.
What do you like best about cooking?
Cooking relaxes me. It gives me an opportunity to explore my creative side and it's my way of showing love. I love to make food and bake goodies to give away as a way of saying, "I'm thinking of you" or "You are important to me". I'm always on the lookout for new recipes and pore over cookbooks and food related articles.
I could see as soon as I entered Sonia's kitchen that she is passionate about sharing good food with her family and friends, and she truly LOVES cooking with beautiful fresh ingredients (some of which are from her own garden)...
What are 2 of your favourite ingredients?
Hmmm...I'd have to say tuna and rice.
What is your favourite recipe of all time - if you're willing to share it?
Ooh, that is so hard as I love so many dishes, but one that I really love is Lebanese Chicken & Rice. It conjures up such a great feeling of warmth and comfort. I love other Lebanese dishes such as Kibbeh and Baba Ghanouj, but I also have a really sweet tooth and love a good Pavlova, Sticky Date Pudding, and a Double Sponge with cream, jam & passionfruit icing. I love a hearty Lamb Soup in winter, a baked Salmon with walnut crust and a good Spaghetti Marinara.
What is the most difficult thing you have ever cooked?
A three-tiered wedding cake! Getting the fondant right on the cake so it's smooth and making sure the 3 different types of cake were moist and delicious was very challenging!
What will you be teaching in your class today?
I'll be teaching how to make Samke Harra, which is baked fish with a rich tahini sauce on top. It's one of Lebanon's most famed and tasty dishes. We'll also be making Savoury Mince Cigars, Baba Ghanouj (Eggplant Dip) and Namoura for dessert.
|The Barramundi used in the Samke Harra|
|Deliciously tangy Baba Ghanouj|
|Preparing the Namoura before it goes in the oven|
Please tell me about the cost, duration and other relevant details of the class.
The cooking class is $100.00 per head and it runs for approximately 3 hours once a month currently. I'm hoping to increase to twice a month in the near future. Guests are greeted with a glass of champagne on arrival, with Zaatar (Lebanese Herb Bread), and we get to sit down and eat what we've made at the end.
My contact number at SONIA'S KITCHEN is 0432 325 275 and I'm on Facebook under Sonia Toland.
|A glass of bubbly|
|The attentive students|
|Pine nuts (a popular ingredient in Lebanese cuisine)|
|Savoury Mince Cigars|
|The hero...Samke Harra|
There's a quote by C S Lewis that represents Sonia's story so well, and I think it encourages us all to never give up on our dreams...
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream" C S Lewis
Keep following your dream Sonia!