Tell us about your foray into the field of culinary arts and baking. How did it all begin for you? My first memory in the kitchen is of my dad lifting me up so he could help me stir the spoon in whatever he was cooking (he’s an excellent cook). I do not remember a time when I might have wanted to become something else, ever since I was little I just knew I wanted to grow up and become a chef. I would come back home and rather than watching Cartoon Network I would turn BBC Food on and just be mesmerised by the likes of Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal, James Martin, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and so many others like them. I would watch their shows and hope to one day be like them. Whenever my family and I would travel abroad, the pocket money I’d get from my parents would be spent on cooking/baking supplies rather than clothes and the best part was that my parents never discouraged me, they always pushed me to focus on my passion due to which I was able to turn it into a career. I would take two-three classes on my trips and come back to Pakistan and try out all those recipes. Soon after I started experimenting with cakes, more so fondant cakes which weren’t popular at that time. I was 15 years old and in grade eight when a family friend asked me to bake a cake for her sister’s baby shower and from there I got my first order! After that there was no looking back. Allah has been extremely kind and I have learnt a lot in all these years. Without Him and the support of my family I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would like to mention how I got my first big break on national television with Shehryar, Aamna Khala and Salman Uncle’s encouragement. The first season of the show was shot at their home and since they are like family I never felt nervous. You are a household name today because of your exceptional cooking skills and expertise in this area. Many Pakistani man and women love to cook and bake but are not getting the right platforms to display their talent. What would you advise them? This is a topic we discuss in great detail in all my cooking classes, most of my students have gone on to start their own businesses. In the classes we discuss how to strategise and launch their work in such a way that they’d gain a lot of traffic. In this day and age, marketing is not an issue, the quality is. I always advise my students to practice as much as they can and only launch their business once they are 100 percent certain that they themselves would buy the product they plan on selling. ‘God has been kind. My mom after she passed away received an award by WCC and the governor at the time for being the pioneer in the field of event management. This year I received an award from the same organisation at the governor house for the ‘foodpreneur’ of the year. It was an extremely overwhelming experience and I felt as if she was there right by my side cheering me on’ If you are honest with your work and along with that photograph your products well and market them over social media, chances of success are very high. I dedicate a day every week to promote my student’s businesses as well. What are you currently working on? Currently, I’m conducting my online classes in which we have students from all across the globe, it’s been an amazing experience. Our classes are not shot through a mobile phone, it’s a full fledge production which is why by the Grace of God I have gotten a great response. Apart from this I have my boutique culinary school, cakes and catering business which I’m also focusing on. Many of my friends have taken cooking classes from you and they have benefited greatly from those. Tell us about your experience in giving those classes. What do you teach in those and how affordable are they? Thank you so much! The online classes are extremely affordable Rs 8,000 for 15 dishes which is value for money. Due to this many people have been able to join more easily. Whereas, our in-house classes are between Rs 12,000 to Rs 16,000 for two weeks. There are various different courses, I take a lot of time in developing the menus keeping in mind dinners and lunches I’d host myself. This way it becomes convenient for students to plan out their parties as well. Menu planning is most definitely an art; each dish must compliment the other in order for it to become a memorable experience. Tell us about the first food item you prepared in your life. Which was the last? The first food item was a batch of cupcakes I made for my mom and her friends and the last thing I made was in my class today – Chicken with Cashew Nuts & Thai Chicken Noodles. Considering the hot and humid weather these days, what should people be cooking in their homes and what food items and beverages should they be including in their diets? To be honest, being a Lahori it’s very tough to avoid eating food cooked in delicious desi ghee and lots of masalas! Currently since most of us are at home and not working out I would suggest to go easy on the quantity but to still eat everything! Life is too short to restrict yourself! Just make sure to stay hydrated. Are you a fitness enthusiast? Not at all! I hate going to the gym but I enjoy going on a walk with my husband every now and then. Which restaurant is your personal favourite in Pakistan and globally? That’s a tough one! I most definitely don’t have a favourite, I have favourite items from different restaurants such as Haji ki Nihari, Desi Bhuni Murghi from Bagh, Pad Ke Mao from Bamboo Union, Dumba Karhai from Sarhad, Amritisari Hareesa. I’m salivating! I’ve a very long list! Globally it depends on where I am; Coya, La Petit Maison, Le Renaise De Venice, Patogh, Zuma, there’s this small kebab place in turkey which I went nuts over and again the list could go on and on. What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far? God has been kind. My mom after she passed away received an award by WCC and the governor at the time for being the pioneer in the field of event management. This year I received an award from the same organisation at the governor house for the ‘foodpreneur’ of the year. It was an extremely overwhelming experience and I felt as if she was there right by my side cheering me on. What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you? A progressive Pakistan is what I pray for, everything I’ve achieved I have achieved in this country, if it wasn’t for the love and support of fellow Pakistanis I don’t think I would be where I am today. We at Daily Times consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours? That is extremely kind of you, I am extremely grateful for your generosity! Edhi Sahib is the biggest national hero in my eyes, I aspire to be half as generous and humble as he was one day. Achievements CULINARY STAR Muneeze Khalid is a culinary prodigy who specialises in making gravity defying cakes that are not only incredible to taste but also incredible to look at. NATIONAL RECOGNITION Muneeze Khalid’s mother received an award after she passed away, by WCC and the governor at the time for being the pioneer in the field of event management. This year, Muneeze received an award from the same organisation at the Governor House for ‘foodpreneur’ of the year. ROLE MODEL FOR WOMEN & GIRLS Currently, Muneeze is conducting online classes in which she has students from all across the globe. Her classes are not shot through a mobile phone, it’s a full fledge production which is why she has gotten a great response. Her classes are very affordable due to this many people have been able to join more easily. Apart from this, she has her boutique culinary school, cakes and catering business which she’s also focusing on.