#MadeAtLeiths: Angela Malik on disrupting the food tech landscape

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#MadeAtLeiths: Angela Malik on disrupting the food tech landscape

Growing up in a foodie family, Angela took the plunge from a successful career in Chartered Accountancy to retraining as a chef as Leiths. Little did she know where this journey would take her as she is now a prominent voice in food policy and disrupting the food tech landscape.

I grew up in a foodie family; my father was a restaurateur with curry houses across Scotland and Europe. Despite having food as a daily fixture in my life, I went on to study chartered accountancy at KPMG and launched myself into a successful career as a Forensic Accountant until I was 30. However, food is in my blood and it always felt as if something were missing. One day I took the plunge, and to my father’s dismay, I announced that I wanted to change careers and become a chef. He was of course horrified! However, my then husband encouraged me to follow my instincts and my father wanted me to be fulfilled so hastily wished me well on my new path. Thus began my professional journey into the food world via my studies at Leiths School of food and Wine.

My introduction into Leiths was a complete revelation. Suddenly, amidst a kitchen classroom full of my new peers and teachers, I finally felt like I was home. Formal learning and being taught is something that I revel in and take pleasure from. Not one for trial and error I am definitely a person that prefers to arm myself with the instruction manual to diligently learn a new task.

I loved Leiths classic training I felt ready and fully armed to start my food journey, nothing was intimidating or scary. As a career changer I was lucky enough to have a good idea of what I wanted from the diploma course. My vision was to build a food company and a multi-dimensional brand. I was pursuing not only the technical knowledge but also how to speak the language of a chef and to gain respect in the kitchen.

After graduating from Leiths I gained experience at Michelin starred restaurants soaking it all in I knew running restaurants wasn’t going to be for me. I wanted to build a family and a food career. After my second child was born in 2006 I bootstrapped my first business which was an e-learning platform and acted recipe portal. I sent out ingredients and explained the art of cooking authentic Asian food to my hungry customers, at the same time I started a cooking school.

In 2008, after the financial crisis hit my bank pulled out of funding my first London site. Determined to keep looking forward and inspired by the work and vision of the Innocent Smoothies brand, I pursued a round of crowd funding and managed to raise £80K. This launched my concept for a modern Asian deli. My vision was of a multi-directional brand, driven by food and technology.

Over the next 8 years I began to build a reputation as a chef, an educator and broadcaster. A multi-site roll out was planned and we also ran 7 London markets each week; including Borough Market. I raised external venture capital to fund the growth however this put a significant amount of stress on the business and me. I began to question my path and it was becoming clear that being a multi-site operations director was not for me. My growth and creativity were stifled.

In 2015 I parted from the business. It was an immense learning curve and difficult time for me. However I knew I had to move forward armed with my experiences and knowledge. These are the moments that make you grow as an entrepreneur and I was determined to make a positive next step.

I shifted my focus back to technology. I realised it was time for a transformation and was thankfully brave enough to pivot and evolve my career to the next phase. I began to consult for large corporates and food-tech companies. I could see the significant challenges we face as a society and was interested on how corporates, start ups and government can work together. Finding solutions and best practice to create opportunities and perhaps even solve some of these issues and global challenges increasingly became a passion and drove my momentum. Big multi-national companies became clients and I continue to work with them to creating new business verticals.

During these years which had its highs and lows, stresses and celebrations, I never felt alone. Leiths was always a constant support and presence in my life and career. Managing Director, Camilla had always been a sounding board and advocate. I have had continued a relationship with the school ; teaching my Indian masterclasses and in 2017 was the first Indian woman contestant on BBC2’s professional chef competition Great British Menu, representing Scotland region as a Leiths alumna.

In 2017 I was appointed onto the influential Mayor of London's Food Board. The board advises Sadiq Khan throughout his 4 year mayoral term on food policy and delivers the London Food Strategy on how to make significant improvements to London’s food system. The Food Board has been an excellent platform to share my digital transformation expertise and develop thought leadership.

I am increasingly discussing the big questions - equality, people, planet and the way that cities and its citizens can make a shift of paradigm towards a more sustainable future. Being actively involved in equal opportunities within food both at community and City Hall levels I am inspired by what is possible and how we can get there.

Always feeling more armed with formal learning and creating a space for research and development of my own ideas, I decided to study for an MBA. I gained a scholarship at the world leading Imperial College London Business School in 2017 to begin what I think of as my visionary phase; with a focus on innovation and leadership. Graduating in 2019, I have been so inspired by my class; most of them in their 30’s, giving me wonderful insights and perspectives into their millennial generation. Their values and focus is different and refreshing and I see powerful shifts in perspectives which make me optimistic for our future.

After 2 decades as a chartered accountant, top UK chef, food entrepreneur and hospitality industry expert, I am now building the future as a disruptor. My mission is to ensure everyone on our planet has access to healthy, affordable food no matter where they live or what they earn. I am a recognised voice and thought leader in the hospitality industry both speaking and writing internationally on diversity, sustainability and the emerging ‘foodtech’ landscape. You can hear my philosophies as I advocate for positive change in the food industry via media platforms such as being founding panelist on Radio 4 The Kitchen Cabinet, appearing on Chanel 4 Sunday Brunch & ITV This Morning.

I now see myself as a hybrid; part chef, educator, advocate, entrepreneur, policy maker. Looking forward, I see myself in a corporate role, delivering transformational projects for cities and the global food tech landscape. My Leiths legacy lives on as I continue to teach my own masterclasses in Indian Cookery, combining exciting flavours with fantastic, seasonal British ingredients as a recognised expert of Asian food.

Follow @angela.malik’s adventures.

If you dream of a career in food, come along to our friendly Open Evening on 5th June.

If you want discover the flavours of Angela’s childhood, book onto Indian Cookery with Angela Malik where she delves into the history of each dish, regional specialties, introduces the five key spices in Indian cookery and how to use them.

As well as our full-time Diploma, we offer a range of flexible evening and online courses in everything from nutritious cookery, how to be a food presenter to starting a food business.

Share your Leiths memories using the #MadeAtLeiths hashtag.


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