Meet Laura Carswell, who’s recently been promoted to be our Junior Sous Chef.
First things first, tell us a bit about you…
I was born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, but have moved roughly 12 times! I went from here to there after primary school, changing to different areas all with new schools and new people, again and again – and that was tough. I lived in Stirling while I went to college and then I made the big step to move to Edinburgh. I’ve been working here since I was 19, so five years now. It’s home for now but I’m very up for travelling about in the future and seeing where life takes me.
I actually wanted to be a primary school teacher, police officer or join the army – but at 17 I found I liked cooking. I like doing hands-on jobs, so university wouldn’t have worked for me. I worked at McDonald’s and did waitressing in a castle, so talking to people and interacting was good and helped my people skills. After that I went to college and stayed in hospitality – I love the creativity, the intensity and how you feel motivated to push yourself each day.
And what’s your role?
I’m now Junior Sous Chef which means I run a section but I’m also able to jump on anywhere else to help the team. It involves training and helping everyone else – we’re very much a family and want to support one another.
I started over a year ago at BABA. It’s been amazing – one of the best years of my life! It’s so different from other places I’ve worked. The team is really close and amazing at what they do. We do work together but out of work we get on very well. It’s good to keep separate but it’s hard when you see the guys you work with more than your family, they’re like your family.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
In this job, I meet new people, watch them grow, and some days manage to make a difference. As a chef, people say you just cook. But it’s not just that – you make people happy with the surprise and the enjoyment of what they’re eating. That’s what I love, to bring happiness to someone’s day.
What’s the proudest moment of your career so far?
My proudest moment was before I started working as a chef. I went to college to do my Higher National Certificate in Professional Cookery and did a competition down in Sheffield called Skills for Chefs. My team won, and to be recognised that we did really well, and all these amazing chefs thought we were good enough, made me feel that I can definitely do this forever. To speak to people who have been in this industry for years and hear their amazing stories was very inspirational and it made we want to have a career like that.
What’s your go-to food and drink when you eat out?
I have to admit I love a lasagne – I’m basically Garfield(!) or a Thai green curry. I also love a cheeky Vodka and Coke, but sometimes I like feeling sophisticated with a classic cocktail.
What country is on your food and drink bucket list?
Japan, because the food, life and culture is my childhood dream. The food is so out there and crazy, and the flavours are out of this world – from all the different types of protein and just the amazing skill and effort that goes into the preparation and cooking.
What’s your favourite quote?
My favourite quote is from a movie called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s one of my favourite movies and this quote just hits me, so I try and think of it day to day, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.