Welcome to EW‘s weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with prominent Dubai-based chef and Masterchef Bulgaria judge Silvena Rowe. Hailing from Bulgaria, Chef Rowe has a passion for Ottoman cuisine. Having begun her career in London when she was 19, Chef Rowe is now based in Dubai having opened Nassau – a Mediterranean restaurant located in Jumeirah Golf Estates – in 2019.
EW sat down with Chef Rowe to find out more about her impressive career history and what made her want to enter the realm of cuisine.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I can’t say that I loved school at all, I was very happy to be there because of my friends, results were always high, but I did because it the thing to do, so very difficult to say what I loved most but for sure was the social aspect, the interactions with my fellow students, what I loved the most my lunch at the school canteen, always delicious, I thought!
What was your first job?
I worked as a social worker in London with abused children in a home. The best part was cooking with and for them in the home’s kitchen.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Pure greed for food, I love eating and creating new dishes, I think about food all the time, I understood very early that one of the incredible effects that food has on all of us, not just from the point of you socialising, but for our physical and mental health. You are what you eat.
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What are the key elements of your role?
I run all the action, by creating the restaurant concept, design collaboration, recipes, training, new menus, new food concepts and working as a team is essential.
Talk us through your daily routine.
I wake up early, after usually 9 to 10 hours of sleep as I like to sleep early. I have a biohacking and superfood routine daily, which consists of certain foods that target what I need to address in my biome. I either do fitness walking, rowing or yoga. Then it’s a trip to the restaurants, meetings, for few months of the year, I film Masterchef, so than I am a lot in the studios, filming days are long, but I still try and keep my morning routine. Sleep is always what I protect the most, along with eating the foods that I need to eat, plus the exercise.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Don’t think of how much money you can make, nevertheless apply your passion and all you have to bring enjoyment, pleasure and health to all that will eat your food.
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What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Have no expectations.
And what is the worst?
To oversell and overrate myself! Chefs are fantastic, but let’s be honest here, we are not doctors, nurses, teachers, fireman, we are not saving the world.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Still is… being a woman in a man’s world, having to work with so many chefs from different nationalities, some will never accept taking orders from a woman chef. It’s a cultural thing. To try and minimise emotion in the kitchens, because it’s what is often used against us women. So rather than minimise, I reinvent and express emotion in a different way.
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