Katarina Willingham, owner Lemon and Soul

The Staff Canteen
Katarina Willingham

Katarina Willingham discusses her role as Owner at Lemon & Soul, Southampton and her own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Katarina Willingham

Place of work: Lemon & Soul, Southampton

Role: Owner

Bio: Katarina opened Lemon & Soul cookery school in Southampton to learn and grow within a sector that she discovered she had a passion for whilst at The Cook Academy and Billingsgate Seafood School. She realised that she had a gift for teaching others and to get the very best out of their cooking experience, drawing on her Slovakian heritage Lemon&Soul is the next step for Katarina.

Chef Skills

Katarina Willingham takes us through her personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How did you get into cooking?

I dare to say most people in Slovakia try to cook. Even some of those who do not cook every day will have their own signature dish or speciality they enjoy cooking and eating. Good quality food is a huge part of our culture. Both of my parents are great cooks and when I grew up we had no ready meals, not fast food everything was cooked from scratch including pasta. We would also cook using purely local and seasonal ingredients as there was no other available.

I remember making my first tomato soup when I was 10. I was also lucky that my parents didn’t push me nor stop me. They would always encourage us to get hands on and not worrying about a mess in the kitchen or broken plate or two.

The variety of Slovak cuisine is great including soups, salads, home-made pasta dishes, meat and the desserts are simply divine...This is where I get my inspiration from.

Why did you start Lemon and Soul – did you think there was a gap in the market?

After I had my three daughters I joined a cookery school in Alresford. Kate Hughes [The Cook Academy] was a great mentor and she taught me not only skills and theory but also how to teach cookery others.

This is how I fell in love with my job and I realised this is what I would like to do and get better at. It is also a reason why I started Lemon & Soul. There was no cookery school in Southampton and having your own business enables you to learn and grow.

What would be your advice for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your passion, work with people you like and who can enrich you and work hard! Sleep is underrated.

You undertook formal training at Billingsgate Seafood School – would you advise aspiring Chefs/cooks to get as much training and experience as possible before deciding what route to go down?

Training is important and so is experiencing, but if you haven’t got drive and love for what you do you won’t do it fully.

Find out more about Lemon & Soul here.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th April 2017

Katarina Willingham, owner Lemon and Soul