Shifa Sheriff – The Culinary Cat


Shifa Sheriff is the inspiring professional behind The Culinary Cat – she’s an architect-turned-cake-artist based in Bangalore.

This venture of mine was officially born around the end of 2015 after having had an epiphany on my way home after working a very depressing shift in my first full time job and realizing that what I was really looking forward to was getting home and popping something in the oven and washing away the architect-ness of my day!

As a conversation starter, I asked Shifa Sheriff about changing career lanes to follow her dream. I have always wondered how young people these days gather courage and conviction, to follow through on inspiration from inner voices.

I’m an architect-turned-cake-artist based in Bangalore – and have been baking since early 2006. However, The Culinary Cat was officially born around the end of 2015 after having had an epiphany on my way home after working a very depressing shift in my first full time job and realizing that what I was really looking forward to was getting home and popping something in the oven and washing away the architect-ness of my day!

And here’s how the rest of the interview went with this passionate young professional who has already become a role model for young people at the crossroads of a difficult career decision.

Do young people these days have more “passion career” options to choose from, when you compare with the previous generation?
To some extent yes, there are a lot more options and creative fields out there today than there were, say, 20 years ago, thanks to the boom in technology and social media; but more than the emergence of new opportunities, I would say the awareness of such opportunities is more accessible today, which is why so many people are choosing to walk off the beaten track. Moreover, the average middle class Indian is exponentially less bound by the responsibility of finances and family commitments as compared to the average middle class Indian of the previous generation, and we’ve been granted a lot more luxury to choose such paths for ourselves today because of that.

How difficult is it for a young person to start a venture like yours? Did you work as an understudy with someone before starting venture on your own?
Well, it depends on which aspect of the business you’re talking about. In terms of technical skills required, it’s really not all that difficult to set up once you have your basics in order. For starters, today there are a dime a dozen institutes that you can get trained at without having to go to full-fledged culinary school. My learning, however, has been entirely self-reliant with a frightening number of trials and even more deadly number of errors, countless hours of sifting through the internet and more than anything, good old fashioned passion towards the industry. As for training under someone before starting out, the thought never even occurred to me to do so because I started the business pretty much on a whim that was based on frustration with my current major at the time! I did do a brief stint at a commercial kitchen in Chennai as the production manager and cake designer in early 2019 which showed me a lot of gaping holes in my knowledge of what would be considered very basic skills, having neither attended culinary school nor worked at a professional kitchen before. Funnily enough, none of these things impacted my business too much!

More on this interview with Shifa Sheriff
on my Linkedin feed

Manuel Vermeire – Wood Engraving

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Wood Engraving by Manuel Vermeire, who has a studio in Prague.

Manuel Vermeire has always been drawn to Italian landscapes and Flemish clouds – probably because of his roots in Italy and Belgium. And interestingly, he draws inspiration from artistic traditions in these two regions that have a rich legacy in art.

His trail of work experience is like a travelogue – having lived and worked in Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, England, Slovakia and Russia. More recently he has based his studio in Prague in the Czech Republic.

Manuel tried his hand at different printmaking techniques, until he began to focus on Burin Engraving – at first on copper, then on wood. He studied printmaking at the international School of Graphic Arts ‘Il Bisonte’, Florence, Italy.

I had a freewheeling discussion with Manuel, about his work, his interests, his public showings and the direction his passion is moving towards. Here are some brief takeaways from that interview.

Did you start with painting first, before you focused on Wood Engraving? How did you make an entry in this field? I don’t think my work horizon ever included painting – wasn’t among my core interests. My primary focus was on working on and improving my drawing skills.

I started to make woodcuts and linocuts at the age of 15. Even in those early days, I did see myself developing as a printmaker and eventually honing and perfecting my working technique. When I was around 21, I chanced upon end grain wood as a base engraving option – and I realized that it was easily the most pliable and workable surface for my craft.

My debut in this field was very spontaneous and natural. And to make a beginning, I began sending my works to wood engraving competitions and graphic art exhibitions. From the very beginning, my prints have often been selected and sometimes rewarded with recognition and prizes.

This interview was originally published on Linkedin
You can read the rest of the interview at this link >

Manuel Vermeire – on the art of Wood Engraving