How does it feel to have been awarded ‘Best in the World’ at the Gourmand Awards?
We were delighted with the news. My husband and I funded and produced the show ourselves. We did everything from A to Z, from the script, locations, food styling and even sitting with the editors to choose scenes and pick the right music. We are extremely grateful that our efforts have been rewarded, and that Iran and its cuisine has been recognised along with the UAE, where all the kitchen scenes were filmed in our own home in Dubai. I deeply respect Mr Edoaurd Cointreau and his team of judges. His family started Cordon Bleu and he is a true gastronome so it’s an honor to receive an award from him.
Could you tell us a bit about your culinary journey?
I’ve always been obsessed with food since I can remember. My earliest food memories were cooking with my grandmother – she let me stand on a stool to reach the stove. My father was a restaurateur and opened the first fine dining French restaurant in Iran before the 1979 revolution and later had another very popular French Californian Brasserie in Beverly Hills. But he discouraged me from going into the kitchen and it was only later, in my mid 20s that I decided to become a professional chef. I trained as a pastry chef at first with Cordon Bleu in Paris and went on to become the Head Pastry Chef at the Asia de Cuba restaurants in Los Angeles. It was fun as we used to do lots of creative and beautiful desserts and catered for big celebrity parties like the Oscars and Vanity Fair. While it was all very exciting, I wanted to settle and eventually have a family so I chose to write cookbooks so that I can be at home and still do what I love to do. My work is so much a part of my life that even when I go grocery shopping I’m in a sense working. In fact, I love that there is distinction between work and play so that I get to ‘work’ as much as possible around food!
How do you translate culinary art into bestselling books?
Best scenario is to get an agent so that he or she guides you to write your first proposal and most importantly to approach publishers on your behalf. However, these days I’m seeing more and more people self-publishing. Whereas, this method was called ‘vanity publishing’ I’ve come to see some of the benefits attached to this. The publishing world is changing rapidly specially with the involvement of social media.
What is your favourite recipe?
I can’t tell you what my favorite recipe is, it’s totally impossible since I love all foods from all countries as long as they are ‘clean’(sustainable, organic, non GMO, natural etc), yummy and nourishing.
Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs and writers?
As a chef, you will be around food all the time, day and night so you need to be obsessed with it in a sense. Being a chef is physically demanding, more than you can imagine but it’s incredible how the body follows your passion. I can stand for 16 hours cooking straight and only after a few days of this will it suddenly hit me that I’m tired. A good tired! Find a mentor and learn as much as you can from them, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not a job for women but at the same time, if you want to have a family, plan your work around it as I said the job is very demanding and the hours are quite antisocial. But it’s also so exciting!
For cookbooks, write write write as much as you can on a blog. You need to have discipline and write even if you’re not feeling ‘inspired’ otherwise you will never write.
Interact with other food writers and attend amazing events such as the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to hear stories of other writers and let them inspire you. Also, position yourself and see what you are good at, passionate about and also what the trends are.
About Ariana Bundy
Ariana Bundy, an American-Iranian, grew up in New York and London and trained as a chef in Paris, but her roots are firmly planted in Persian soil. She was Head Pastry Chef for the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and Le Notre in Paris, and trained at Fauchon Patisserie.
Her book ‘Pomegranates & Roses: my Persian family recipes’ (Simon & Schuster UK) won an award at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Best Cookery Book at the UK Writer’s Guild Awards in 2013.
She is also the author of ‘Sweet Alternative’ (Conran-Octopus UK), the first gluten, dairy and soy free dessert cookbook.
Her books have been featured in magazines such as BBC Good Food, Food & Travel UK, Conde Nast’s House & Garden, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Food & Wine Magazine, The Irish Examiner, House & Home UK, Financial Times and the Sunday Telegraph.
Ariana has appeared on TV shows such as the BBC’s Good Food Live, Sky’s Taste, Euronews, FOX and Top Billing.
She is working on a cookbook ‘Ariana’s Persian Kitchen’ to accompany the TV series.
Ariana’s Persian Kitchen airs in over 48 countries on Nat Geo People, Fox Life India and Farsi 1.