Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Ayesha Kalaji

Executive Chef & Owner of Queen of Cups

Glastonbury, United Kingdom


Graduate of:
Leiths Three Term Diploma in Food and Wine

Ayesha is the owner and Executive Chef at her very own restaurant in Glastonbury, The Queen of Cups. They are famous for gorgeous Middle Eastern small plates using authentic Middle Eastern ingredients as well as utilising their fabulous local suppliers.  

Life before Leiths:
Before becoming a professional cook, I enrolled at SOAS, University of London to read Middle Eastern Studies. I really became obsessed with my food culture after doing my final year project on the semiotics of Middle Eastern food. It was there I really delved into the history of my culinary culture, researching recipes that harked back all the way to the Ottoman era! 

What inspired you to enrol at Leiths?: 

I was inspired to enrol at Leiths due to a distinct dissatisfaction with my future career prospects. But I knew I loved to cook. I knew in my gut my future lay in food. And my mum and I had been doing a Leiths recipe for roast chicken for years! So, it made absolute sense! 

Life after graduation: 

I am happily and proudly now the Executive Chef and Owner of Queen of Cups in Glastonbury. I graduated Leith’s with a merit which I worked very hard for and then went on to train as a butcher at the highly acclaimed Parsons Nose in West London, before beginning my first kitchen job at The Palomar before working at Michelin starred Sosban, then The Good Egg and Bubala. 

Any wise words for future grads?: 

Keep going! It isn’t always going to be easy, but the results will be so worth it. Keep your head down, ears open, learn everything you can from everyone you can, and never dim your shine for anyone. Always be unapologetically yourself. 

Photography credit: Vicki Steward 

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