The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find the greatest HAPPINESS using it.
College Education at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality & Hotel Management Dubai from 2003 to 2006
Training in Culinary Art with Chef Michael Kitts
Deans List: among the top 3 in every college year
Graduation 2nd best in November 2006
2011 Opening of the first gluten-free online store in the Middle East
2012 Development of my own gourmet brand THE TREAT with your own gluten-free gourmet bakery
2013 guest lectures in Gluten Free Culinary Arts at The Emirates Academy
2014 Expansion to our artisan gluten-free gourmet bakery
2016 Founding of our family enterprise
FLOUR REBELS in Hamburg
2022 Translation of our artisan gourmet products into industrial production processes, using our especially designed flours and techniques
From Hamburg to Dubai… and back again
The year 2001 was a fateful one for the entire world. For me too. After an endless, life long marathon to different doctors, with conclusions like "You're just imagining it all" or "Are you taking drugs?", I finally got a glimpse on the possibility that I might have an intolerance to gluten. For the first time, I heard the word celiac. At the time, doctors gave clueless advice like this: "Eat rye instead of wheat."
Anyway: Despite of my messed up health, and two days after 9/11, I departed to Dubai. Nobody flew in my direction. Air ports were like ghosted. Freshly graduated from high school, I didn't have the slightest idea what I actually wanted to do in the country of my dreams. There was no hint what life had already in mind for me…
When you have a path in front of you, a lot of things don't really seem to make sense. When you look back, you realize that not a moment was wasted. Steve Jobs called this “connecting the dots.” He also said that the worst thing that ever happened to him ultimately turned out to be the best.
In Dubai, as in the rest of the world, people knew next to nothing about celiac disease. Or about a gluten-free diet, which is essential for a life with absolute gluten intolerance. I didn't know either. Accordingly, I stumbled towards a catastrophe that would almost cost me my life. When you have symptoms for two decades, they eventually seem normal. This is the crux of almost all gluten-sensitive people.
Initially, I worked in an event agency until, one Sunday in 2003, my mother discovered an article about The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in a newspaper. She called me immediately and set my heart on fire! The university is considered one of the best hotel management schools in the world. I raced to Jumeirah in my Smart. I cried on the way back because I wanted to study there so badly. They accepted me. Even today, 17 years after graduating as the second best student in my class, my heart pounds when I drive to campus. It was such a good time!
At the culinary classes, I met my teacher and mentor, Chef Michael Kitts, to whom I owe my passion for Culinary Art and so much more. His favorite saying: "If you always cut corners, you'll end up just running in circles." Under his wings, we opened a restaurant in the fairytale, gallery-enclosed entrance hall of the university for a week at the end of our studies – with a budget of 150 dollars. With a sophisticated menu and marketing strategy, we managed to get it completely booked 14 days before opening. When we closed our doors again, I knew: That's what I wanted: my own gourmet restaurant!
THE END OF ALL DREAMS?
A year after I graduated, my spine broke. Celiac disease had slowly destroyed it over the years. I was 25. And my dream of a career in culinary arts, of a restaurant, let alone a bakery, seemed over. It took two years before I could walk without crutches and drive a car again.
Slowly, I realized that only a completely gluten-free diet could save what was left of my health.
In Dubai, there were almost no gluten-free baked goods. Instead, my parents dragged suitcases full of bread and rolls to me from Hamburg. It is no coincidence that small GF bakeries and restaurants are so often family businesses. Everyone in the family knows what it means to make a mistake, even small ones. Nobody cuts corners like Mr. Kitts talked about in college. Everyone goes that extra mile it takes to prevent harm.
"It takes COURAGE to grow up and become who you really are."
It wasn't until that moment, when gluten disappeared from my menu forever, that I realized how much I would miss the traditional bakery as I knew and loved it! GF products at that time were without exception a plain substitute. I ate them because I couldn't eat any other way. I ate them even when I was shaking. And when I was done with shaking, I opened the first online store in Dubai for the somewhat edible, gluten-free products.
"KIND OF GOOD" ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH
But they were only somewhat edible. And they almost never arrived on time to serve our explosively growing customer base. So I started baking myself , out of desperate necessity. I didn't want anyone to ever have to go through what I had gone through - especially not children!
My first bread, a toast that instead of wheat contained healthy ingredients such as GMO-free corn and potato flour, flaxseed and millet, became a bestseller overnight. One of the best pastry chefs in the Jumeirah Hotel Group once said to me: "Your big advantage is that you have never baked professionally with wheat. Your view is not blocked by previous experiences. Anything is possible." I am still grateful to him for this sentence to this day. Beginner's Mind!
It didn't take long until I was waking up at night with the recipes buzzing through my brain. Not only did I wake up… I got up to bake them at three in the morning. 50 recipes, a 100. 150. The largest range of breads in the world. Many of them are not only gluten free, but also lactose- and egg free. The most delicious pastries.Finally, I baked everything I had ever missed… Just much, much better.
In 2014, I eventually opened my first professional bakery in Dubai: The Treat Café & Bakery. Since then, our range includes over 200 unique recipes: from crispy rolls, bagels and croissants to fresh, fragrant bread and wonderful pastries, muffins, cupcakes and cakes. Trendy cafés, 5-star hotels, luxury restaurants, fitness studios and airlines crowded our place. Customers came to Dubai from Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, North Africa – just to buy our products.
In 2016, after 15 adventurous years in the Middle East, we founded FLOUR REBELS as a family business in Germany. Our customers include, among others, the AIDA cruise ships, Cornelia Poletto, selected hotels with top-class restaurants, deli shops, health food stores, food markets and, last but not least, over 1500 private customers. The circle had closed, a new one had begun. Now, exactly 22 years later, it looks as if life's about sweeping me back to the Persian Gulf.
Things haven't changed much in the international gluten free world. We are living in a time and age of AI; Elon Musk is attempting to fly to Mars – but to get a crispy, tasty, safely served roll for breakfast at a luxurious hotel is still close to mission impossible. So what's next? To go international with my gluten free experience; with new recipes, new techniques, my own flour blends and a great portfolio of absolutely stunning products.