The accidental chef who is cooking up a storm in Saudi Arabia

Saudi chef Louloua El-Ezzah traces her journey from stay-at-home mum to cooking school entrepreneur and overall role model. (Photo supplied)
Updated 04 March 2018

The accidental chef who is cooking up a storm in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Louloua didn’t start out wanting to be a chef. Although she grew up surrounded by food, watching her mother, aunts and grandmothers “cooking all the time,” her interest in food was sparked much later than her entrepreneurial ambitions — which she has had for as long as she can remember.
“It all began when I began to make recipes to feed my children. I started cooking out of need,” says the effervescent mother-of-three. “My real passion for food was born when I started to teach … that’s when I felt like learning more, exploring food more … Then, gradually, I started working with different brands on food-related projects and over the years, acquired the title of a chef.”
Today she is the proud founder of Loulou’s Kitchen, a state-of-the-art cooking school where she conducts a variety of classes for ladies of all ages – ranging from basic culinary skills to exotic cuisines such as Thai, Japanese, and Italian.
The journey to get here, from her humble beginnings doing cooking classes in her home kitchen nearly two decades ago, has been arduous to say the least.
“I struggled between the house with having little kids that need attention and care, and having to build my career,” she says.
“The biggest challenge for me, however, was changing perceptions of society about being a chef. When I first started 18 years ago, people thought my job was insignificant. When people would ask my son ‘What does your mom do?’ he would tell his friends she’s a cook. Even he considered me a cook, not a chef. When I met people socially, they would be surprised to learn that I am the owner of Loulou’s Kitchen, and ask if I hire a chef to teach my students!”
The pioneering chef persevered in spite of the pushback she received, motivated by a drive to change the culture and, over the years, found that the shackles loosened.
“I really wanted more girls to know about this field as a career option. I wanted to convince more women to get into this, and that pushed me to continue what I was doing,” she says.
Along the way, she garnered a number of accolades, including being invited to do recipe development for leading brands such as Maggi Arabia, Goody and Unilever. She has also participated in numerous cooking competitions and culinary events, and participated in TV shows such as “Rotanna Kaligia”; “Doctor Chef”; “Sayidaty” and “Maggi Diaries,” a program themed around empowering women through food and cooking.
Her biggest turning point, however, was participating in “Top Chef Middle East” in 2011. “I had much more exposure among everyone in society. People who had heard of my kitchen would actually watch me on TV,” she says.
Combined with the social media explosion of recent years, which also helped in building her brand – although she is quick to admit that she is still playing catch-up on that front, as none of it existed when she first started out – she acquired nationwide recognition, which contributed to making her dream come true in 2012, when she finally opened her professional cooking studio.
The cooking school, in turn, is helping her in the mission to change societal perceptions about cooking, and inspiring Saudi Arabian youth to explore the culinary industry as a viable and fun career option.
“Nowadays the mentality has changed dramatically, and women are so proud to become chefs. Some people I know have left their jobs in administrative work to fulfill their dream of becoming a professional chef. Now in restaurants and hotels, we often see female chefs working in the kitchen,” she says. “I had this vision that in the coming years, there will be many more Saudi chefs in the hospitality industry, and that is definitely happening now.”
As any female chef anywhere in the world will reveal, however, it isn’t easy. “Having to work in a commercial kitchen all day long made me realize that the physical and mental effort needed to do everything that is expected in the kitchen is really hard work,” she admits.
But, as long as they are prepared for the long hours and physical rigors of the job, she encourages anyone who is interested in pursuing this as a career, as it can be very rewarding.
“My message to all women who want to become professional chef is to go ahead,” she says. “With lots of perseverance and commitment you will reach your goal. It has a lot of potential as it is booming in the Saudi Arabia at the moment.”


Useful Tips on Baby Hygiene

Baby hygiene is crucial in boosting the overall health and wellbeing of the baby. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 November 2019

Useful Tips on Baby Hygiene

DUBAI: Baby hygiene is crucial in boosting the overall health and wellbeing of the baby. Hygiene does not only involve the basic cleanliness but also keeping the baby away from common and harmful infections. Many health centers and baby clinics emphasize the need for moms to get the necessary baby hygiene education. This is especially done through educational seminars and paediatric visits. Through these avenues, mothers are equipped with tips on how to keep their babies clean and how to detect common baby illnesses.

Let’s take a quick look at the useful tips on baby hygiene that moms should always keep in mind.

  • Wash Your Hands

Both parents should regularly wash their hands before handling their baby. This should be done using running water and antibacterial soap. Hands are chief germ-carriers since they pick up objects, most of which are usually not clean. Using a hand sanitizer is also a good option for keeping hands germ-free. Washing hands after changing nappies, before feeding the baby, and after using the washroom are among the practices that parents should embrace to maintain baby hygiene.

  • Proper Cleaning of Eyes

With newborns, mucus build-up around eyes is common but not good for baby hygiene. Accumulation of this mucus may give you trouble while cleaning your baby. Remember that eyes are delicate organs and are to be cleaned with care.

The best way to clean your baby’s eyes is by using cotton balls and warm water, one ball for each eye. Dampen the cotton balls and clean the eyes, from the inside corner outwards. For proper baby hygiene, ensure that you clean your baby’s eyes severally in a day.

  • Clean the Nose
Cleaning can be done using warm water and a soft cloth. (Shutterstock)

Baby hygiene also involves maintaining a clean nose. You need to wipe the nostril area gently to get rid of mucus. Cleaning can be done using warm water and a soft cloth. Stuffy baby noses pose a problem for most moms. Worry not! Get a nose aspirator and nasal saline for moistening the baby’s nose. This loosens the mucus, making it easy to suction it out.

  • Keep the Ears Clean

Clean ears also contribute to baby hygiene, with keen attention to the eardrum. It is not advisable to insert cotton buds into the baby’s ears as they can damage and irritate the baby’s inner ear. For proper baby hygiene with the ears, roll a piece of cotton wool and clean the outer ear to prevent accumulation of wax. Don’t forget to wipe the region behind the ear too.

  • Umbilical Cord

For newly born babies, the umbilical cord is particularly a delicate part that needs utmost care. For proper baby hygiene, ensure that you wash your hands before handling the umbilical cord. Avoid covering the stump area with diapers and nappies to help the stump heal faster. For better baby hygiene, make sure that nappies and diapers are folded below the stump to avoid touching it.

  • Proper Cleaning of Genitals

Whether boy or girl, proper cleaning of genital is key to baby hygiene. When bathing a baby girl, use a wet cotton ball and wipe the genital area from the front backwards. For boys, ensure that you rinse the genital area with clean water. Avoid using soap for this exercise. This exercise is vital to baby hygiene as it helps prevent infections thus keeping the baby healthy.

  • Trim Your Baby’s Nails
Don’t cut the nails too short to prevent infections around the nail tips. (Shutterstock)

Babies have little fingers, and trimming the nails can prove a nervy exercise for parents. You can wait for a month to trim the nails for the first time since they are brittle and fragile. After a month, you can trim them regularly using a pair of scissors to maintain baby hygiene. Do this when the baby is calm, preferably when sleeping. Don’t cut the nails too short to prevent infections around the nail tips.

  • Washing Hair

You should avoid doing this daily but when you do it, use tear-free shampoo to massage your baby’s scalp gently to prevent hair loss. To dry the hair, use a clean towel to wipe their scalp back and forth. Ensure that you use a wide comb or a soft bristle brush to comb the baby’s hair.

  • Sanitize Your Home and Baby’s Toys

When babies start to crawl around to play, they can collect germs either from the floor or their toys. Ensure that you clean surfaces in your home using disinfected water to maintain baby hygiene. Do the same for the baby’s toys to keep them free from germs.

Baby hygiene involves many cleaning activities that must all be done with care and advised. By keeping your baby clean, you can be sure that they will stay healthy and disease-free, especially those caused by harmful microbes.

This article was first published on babyarabia.com