Best Job Ever: Rachel Khoo, Food Creative

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Photograph by David Loftus.

With her rich red lipstick, polka dotted frocks, and bubbly personality, food creative Rachel Khoo makes multitasking look fun and easy. But, it wasn’t easy. Her career as a chef, food writer, and television host all started when she dropped her glamorous life in London fashion PR to follow a dream of Paris and pâtisserie, even though she knew no one and spoke little French.

After studying at Le Cordon Bleu while working as an au pair, Rachel began teaching cooking, writing cookbooks, producing a blog, consulting on menus, and even running a two-seated eatery out of her own petite apartment. Her 226-square foot kitchen became the humble set for her own show on BBC2, The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo. This buffet of culinary skills and knowledge, along with her original and down-to-earth take on traditional French cooking makes Rachel’s unique title of “Food Creative” is quite appropriate.

Read on to learn more about Rachel’s life in Paris, love for vintage, and her delicious life!

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Photograph by David Loftus.

As a food creative, what’s a typical day like for you?
At the moment, I’m researching, testing, and writing my next book, so I usually head to the market in the morning to pick up the ingredients for the recipes I plan to test in the day. Then, I spend most of the day in between the kitchen (cooking) and my desk (writing the recipes). There’s always a lot of washing up involved when you recipe test which I hate!

Was your first experience in Paris like a dream come true out of a movie?
I moved to Paris not speaking French and not knowing anyone. I had a job lined up as an au pair for a French family. The family was very nice but it still wasn’t like in a movie. I loved going to the markets, pâtisseries, bakeries, and wandering around Paris, but at the same time it was still difficult. The first couple of years were tough. Making friends wasn’t easy. The people at school were mainly foreigners who weren’t staying long and the French tend to keep to themselves (apart from French guys who are just looking to chat you up). I was also living on a 80€ week [just over 100 USD], which was difficult after having earnt well in my fashion job in London. But, I persisted and it eventually paid off. I now feel like Paris is my home!

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Photograph by David Loftus.

As a girl, what did you aspire to become?
I had different aspirations at different ages. I remember on my first day at school, I wanted to become a teacher. When I was a teenager, it would change from graphic designer to politician to physiotherapist.

What’s your favorite family food memory?
I have many, but one would be baking gingerbread with my mum when I was a kid.

When you got a sweet deal doing a cooking series with BBC2, you still filmed out of your own 226-square foot kitchen. Why did you stick with such a small set?
It was important that the show was authentic. Filming on a set with a fake kitchen would have not felt right for me and given the show an utterly different feel.

I read that you styled yourself for your BBC2 show. Was there a particular aesthetic you were going for and why?
There was no particular aesthetic I went for. I just wore the clothes I felt comfortable in and that I like to wear. I didn’t have a big budget in terms of wardrobe, [and] so would scour vintage and secondhand shops for clothes.

What do you hope to achieve as a chef?
I strive to write recipes that inspire people to cook. I’d rather see my book battered and splattered with food stains than pristine. It’s the ultimate compliment for a food writer.

What culinary blunders have you faced?
Too many to list! Culinary blunders are part of the recipe testing process. Recently, I was testing a French cake recipe for my next cookbook, and my oven was too hot, so the batter spilled out and burnt on the oven bottom. I had a lot of scrubbing to do afterwards, which was a pain. I will be putting a tray lined with baking paper underneath the cake tin next time to avoid a burnt oven bottom.

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What kitchen tool can you not live without?
A heat-resistant rubber spatula.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cheese!

If you enjoyed this profile, be sure to return to the blog later this week for a chance to win Rachel’s new book, The Little Paris Kitchen!

About Angela

Someday, Angela will be tending to her sheep, llamas and alpacas on the “Yarn Farm” and raising award winning honey bees. Until then, the native Pittsburgher is enjoying all things related to knitting, her cats, Mr. Spock, red lipstick, and creativity. Writing is her first true love.

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17 Responses to Best Job Ever: Rachel Khoo, Food Creative

  1. Kristen 03/18/2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Love Rachel’s show, and so glad that they now show it in the US on Cooking Channel! And her tiny kitchen — c’est si adorable!

  2. Sabina 03/18/2013 at 5:45 pm #

    This is such an inspiring story. It must have been terrifying to leave a job that was safe as well as glamorous. But obviously the venture paid off. Congrats to Rachel.

  3. Jenny 03/19/2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Wow – that sounds like a very tiny kitchen. It’s nice to know you don’t need every gadget foodies try to sell you. All anyone needs to cook is a small space for prep, oven, and the courage to try!

  4. Carolina 03/20/2013 at 8:51 am #

    Everytime I watch Rachel Khoo cooking with so much entusiasm, I feel absolutely HAPPY. I love her wardrobe, her hair, her apartment and the cute sound track that plays during her show. She brights my day for sure!

  5. Tamara 03/20/2013 at 8:53 am #

    J’adore Rachel Khoo, her tiny kitchen and adorable dresses! What a pitch-perfect interview for ModCloth. So happy when two of my favorite things come together. I hope Cooking Channel will continue to run her show. I love it!

  6. Lena Mill 03/20/2013 at 8:59 am #

    Even here in South Africa I follow you. It all sounds so idillic however to cook and bake is not always easy, it is like a duck on water, glide along swimmingly but underneath the water is another story. Rachel I love your program,please bring on more.I love it!

  7. David 03/20/2013 at 9:56 am #

    What a woman, love the enthusiasm, no pretentiousness, small (!) kitchen – big talent. Very able presenter, no big fuss just get’s on with it. Produces superb food. What a talent.

  8. sweetendeavours 03/20/2013 at 11:46 am #

    I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure her kitchen is a LOT smaller than 226 square feet?

  9. Ashley 03/20/2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Two things I love: ModCloth and Rachel Khoo! Watching her show is one of my favorite little treats! I have actually been perusing ModCloth lately looking for items, asking myself “What Would Rachel Wear?”. Great post!

  10. wilee coyote 03/20/2013 at 6:50 pm #

    i really like the cookbook and the show.. hope it stays for a while, also really love your style

  11. Stephanie 03/20/2013 at 11:54 pm #

    LOVE HER! I watched her show religiously when it used play here in NZ. I made the choquettes and they are great with chocolate bits on top or sprinkles or anything or just by themselves! Ahhhh I wish I could make some now but my oven has gone bust!
    Love her style too! :)

  12. kim 03/21/2013 at 5:52 am #

    Rachel khoo you are living my 11 year old Mia dream she is very determined to be a pastry chef and allways talks about going to school in paris i am going to share your blog with her to make her see dreams really do come true..

  13. Ti 03/21/2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I first watched her show at YouTube, before the BBC took it down and I totally fell in love with her cooking and style. She makes french food look easy and doable.

  14. Alyssa 03/22/2013 at 8:53 am #

    Thumbs up ModCloth for featuring Rachel! She is absolutely fabulous!!! I’m glad to see her fame making it’s way across the pond. :)

  15. Stephanie 03/22/2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Kudos you have my attention, I look forward to more blogs. Way to live the dream! Food is so good for the soul!

  16. Rachel Lauren 03/23/2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Need some great vintage cookbooks and kitchen gadgets?! Check out my online Etsy store http://www.vintagepod.com for lots of items!

  17. Hilary 07/16/2013 at 3:48 pm #

    This is my dream job/ life!! If only… :)

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