Monday, April 2, 2012

A Culinary Journey

Carmen Rawstron is a passionate and enthusiastic woman who loves to eat, to cook and most of all to share. At a very early age she found herself cooking by chance and later became an expert in the art of flavouring food.

Carmen, a sixth generation Venezuelan of Spanish and Scottish ancestry, was first introduced to the kitchen by her late father, a man who loved cars, cooking and entertaining.  Her initial inspiration was also found in the cuisine of her maternal grandmother who during the 50’s was a famous cake artist in Caracas.

During the late 70’s her mother was posted to work in Italy. This certainly was a real opportunity for Carmen who not only learned basic cooking methods, but also developed her skills to mix exotic flavours from the Venezuelan Cuisine with Italian traditional recipes. From simple starters to desserts, Carmen engaged in what the Italians call “la cucina della nonna”, grandma’s cooking style. Later she started catering for her Roman classmates and teachers during the school fairs.

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The mid 80’s marked her return from Italy to Venezuela where Carmen cooked more seriously for family and friends. The traditional Christmas celebrations represented a busy time for Carmen as she prepared Venezuelan pasties and ham breads. She also enrolled on a full course in cake artistry at the Bogan International School of Cake Artistry and Pastillage in Caracas and did two workshops with master cake artist Ariani Medina.

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After her graduation as a lawyer, she decided to return to Italy, not only to continue her studies, but also to learn more about Roman, Sicilian and Tuscan Cuisine.  Being curious about food and culture she contacted a few friends and classmates to learn more about food festivals in Italy. It was also in Rome when she later engaged and married with her English fiancé Philip.

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Carmen and her husband went to live in Venezuela during the millennium where she dedicated herself to the making of cakes for weddings, christenings and children’s parties. After spending a few years in her homeland, Carmen and her newborn child followed her husband to England where they lived for six years. Living in England was a big culinary challenge for Carmen.  As a newcomer she was trying to find her way to the origins of the traditional British Cuisine buying her first Delia Smith cookbook “How to Cook”.

This certainly represented a great opportunity for Carmen as she started her own cake business following sugar and modelling cake artist Debbie Brown’s guidelines and cooked for friends. She also started to gather together traditional Venezuelan recipes into a book and had her second child.

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For the last three years Carmen has been living in Malaysia with her family and she has been very busy learning and improving her skills as a chef, a food writer as well as catering for diplomatic and charity events hosted by the Venezuelan Embassy and the Latin American Ladies Association in Malaysia. This also gave Carmen the opportunity to meet and to participate in a series of workshops hosted by master Venezuelan Chefs Edgar Leal, Mariana Montero and Tamara Rodriguez.

Later she participated in the TV program OLE OLE with Chef Zamzani Abdul Wahab where she joined His Excellency Ambassador of Venezuela Manuel Guzman’s wife Natahalie Nuñez to present Venezuelan Cuisine. Carmen’s enthusiasm and determination to tell her story also led her to participate in the lifestyle magazines For Connoiseurs and MPH, which will be soon distributed in Malaysia. Carmen also enrolled in a Sommelier course under the direction of Bruno Cassasus and Jean Michel Fraisse trainer and founder of the Hospitality and Tourism Consulting in Asia and she is currently studying a Diploma in Culinary Arts at Berjaya College University of Hospitality in Kuala Lumpur.

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Last year Carmen completed her project and self-published her first book in English “My Venezuelan Cuisine”. In the near future her plans include continuing selling her books, finishing her studies, food writing and becoming an Ambassador of Venezuelan Cuisine around the world.

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