Young Adult 2021
Naila Varawalla grew up in York Region, which has exposed her to a variety of cultures and cuisines. Naila credits this in helping her develop her passion for food, inspiring her to pursue a career in the culinary arts. She loves creating in the kitchen and takes pride in the social impact she can make through working in the Menus of Change kitchen at the university she attends.
In 2020, Naila started a small homemade ice cream business, making ice cream recipes with natural and fresh ingredients without the use of preservatives and artificial additives. Through her business she wants to teach people about the importance of using healthy ingredients and increase their awareness about what they consume—showing them too that eating wholesome and natural food can taste just as good if not better than processed foods. This concept and thinking about the impact that food has inspires her work at Menus of Change where they serve students new dishes created using the excess food from other teaching kitchens. Menus of Change focuses on preparing sustainable plant-based meals while reducing food waste.
In addition to working in the Menus of Change kitchen, Naila has had many amazing opportunities since beginning culinary school in the fall of 2020. She has learned more about international cuisines and cultures, and she developed and executed her own menu for service. Naila, along with her chef, are also preparing for a cooking demo. To top it off, she entered and won a recipe contest centred around balsamic vinegar. The contest was hosted through her school and the grand prize was a trip to Modena, Italy!
COVID-19 has added stress to an already demanding schedule of school, working part-time, and living on her own away from home. It’s been difficult at times, especially not being able to see family. Despite these challenges, Naila recognizes the importance of creating space to unwind and relax. She loves being outdoors in nature and enjoys getting out for a walk or a hike regularly. She also keeps in touch with friends and family daily. In addition, to de-stress, she attends extra culinary classes hosted at the university on weekends, which are relaxing and fun.
Naila is driven and positive. She acknowledges that it’s easy to get discouraged and upset when things do not go as expected but it is important to persevere. She takes this approach when working in the kitchen since restaurants—and even culinary classes—can be quite stressful given their high-pressure environments and strict timelines. She’s learned to take a step back and then continue working through whatever comes her way with a positive attitude.