Introducing Nomad chef Emily Dobbs

Emily has worked as a chef in top restaurants in London including Spring, Petersham Nurseries and Ducksoup for 8 years, then went on to do private catering, retreats, recipe development, cooking lessons, pop-ups, and more. In 2017, Emily published Weligama, a cookbook featuring vibrant, fresh, light and delicious recipes from Sri Lanka!

Emily Lowe
Emily Lowe
March 28, 2023

How did you get into cooking?

I went to art college studying fine art in Manchester ( I painted using spices and egg yolk )  didn’t finish my degree so decided I would cook just so that I could travel the world with accommodation provided. Didn’t love food or cooking until a few years later became obsessed! My first cooking job was on a ranch in Wyoming where my grandmother who lived in India in the 50s would email me curry recipes so I taught myself how to make curries on a farm in Wyoming. Moved back to London and got a job ( with not much skill ) at The Dock Kitchen in Ladbroke Grove. I didn’t know any produce (had to google Jerusalem artichokes etc) learnt a lot and from there worked at Ducksoup, Petersham Nurseries and Spring. I was never taught apart from other chefs ( who always had different opinions! ) so did a skint at Ballymaloe but mainly drank Guiness and explored Ireland as was already a chef at that point. I then set up my street food stall Weligama, wrote a cookbook, worked in Sri Lanka and my next book on spices is out next year 2023.

How does your upbringing influence your cooking style?

I went to Sri Lanka as a child and loved the colourful food eating with hands but was actually a very fussy eater. Didn’t like raw tomatoes, salad, cooked cheese (!) .. loved sugar and mr Kipling lemon curd cake!

What do you love most about being a chef?

I love working with my hands, the seasons, produce and other chefs. I love the buzz of a busy kitchen and I love trying new recipes and experimenting new ideas.

If you weren’t a chef, what do you think you would be?

Interior designer or shamanic acupuncturist

If you could bring 3 items to a desert island what would you bring?

Unsalted butter, sourdough and anchovies.

Most interesting kitchen story?

I’ve cooked for all sorts famous people and things inc secret plant medicine retreats and stag parties where I’ve ended up DJIng.

What are your favourite hobbies/things to do on your days off away from the kitchen?

I am constantly reading cookbooks, eating in restaurants and exploring markets. I never really have a day off from the kitchen and feel lucky to have something I get to relish three times a day. I also love vintage clothes, records and interiors.

Where do you want to be with your career in 5 years time?

I’d love to have my own restaurant, write more books and continue to cook. During lockdown I thought cooking wasn’t for me. Studied five element acupuncture for 6 months, got to the exam and realised cooking is my thing ( although I had been cooking 10 years.There is always room to learn and grow. In theory every day I should be a better cook but I have off days where I don’t feel inspired or tired and I just want something simple like marmite on toast. Sometimes you need to change direction in order to move forward. Sometimes you need to let go of what you have got to realise where your strengths lie and take perspective.

Here's a taster of Emily's menu...

Emily Dobbs sample menu

Click here to enquire with Emily now!

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