When Sassy Mama Met Annabel Karmel
Immaculately turned out and full of smiles, it was hard to believe that Annabel Karmel had just stepped off a flight from Sydney as part of a a whistle stop tour of the world to promote her new ‘Baby Led Weaning Recipe Book’. A mama of 3 (her kids are now all grown up) with a passion for food and an an amazing work ethic, not to mention an incredible business brain (Annabel won ‘Businesswoman Of The Year’ in the UK last year), we chatted about everything from juggling motherhood with work to her perfect day, starting a business to traveling plus food, food and more food!
Tell us about your latest book, baby-led weaning – including, most importantly, where we can buy it?!
The book came out in May in the UK and sold out immediately! I was being asked about baby-led weaning so often that it was the next natural step but the book doesn’t just work for babies as so many of the recipes are suitable for older children or even the whole family to enjoy. And I’m also preparing for grandchildren! (Annabel’s daughters are NOT having babies yet btw but she’ll be an amazing granny when they do!). The book is available on Amazon and also at Kinokuniya and Choithrams.
How can a mama choose between baby-led weaning and conventional puree based weaning?
I would suggest a mix to find out what works – because what suits one baby may not suit another. A baby’s hand-to-eye coordination at a young age isn’t well enough developed for them to be able to eat everything they need so mixing purees and finger foods will give them the best of both worlds, just be careful of choking if a baby isn’t ready to swallow.
Other than paving the way for kids food, what else are you passionate about?
I’m obsessed with food! At breakfast I talk about lunch and at lunch I talk about dinner! One of my daughter’s works with me now and we’ll often chat about what we feel like eating for the day in the morning. I love experimenting in the kitchen and nothing makes me happier than cooking something that everyone really enjoys and finishes off. I also love my dogs and all animals actually!
You’ve built an amazing foodie empire, did you ever feel that ‘mother’s guilt’ when your kids were small?
I didn’t because I wouldn’t have enjoyed being a full-time mum, I’ve always needed to work and I made sure that I chose something that my children inspired and could be a part of and I wanted to be a good role model for them. You have to be true to yourself and do whatever’s right for you and your family, whether that’s going to work or not. And some full-time mums actually spend less quality time with their children than working mums because they’re on their phones all the time or chatting with friends.
What do you think the challenges faced by mums & mumpreneurs are these days, compared with when you started out?
The great thing now is social media, a completely free resource that let’s you sell and share and collaborate. When I started it was literally in a small mums group whereas now there are so many ways to connect and join with like-minded people.
What advice do you have for mums looking to go back to work?
Honestly I think that mothers make the perfect employees! They have fantastic organisational skills and are brilliantly efficient because they know they have to get everything done in time to fit in the family’s needs. They also have amazing people skills, if you can deal with an irrational toddler than you can deal with anyone! And if you have a business idea and are worried about taking it forward, just remember to follow your heart – you don’t have to be an inventor you just have to find a gap in the market and follow your passion. The best thing to ask people if you have an idea? ‘why do you think my idea might fail?’, then you’ll get the best advice and insights!
What do you love most about Dubai?
The food, especially the hotel breakfasts, I could just eat the breakfast I had this morning over and over! The hotels here are fantastic and also the people, it’s such a ‘can-do’ place and also so beautiful.
Which restaurants do you love most here?
I’ve never had a bad meal here! But I especially love La Petite Maison and Zuma.
What’s the worst food experience you’ve ever had?
Oh it was in Hong Kong (incidentally I love Hong Kong and the energy of the city). I ordered the ‘drunken prawns’ and was presented with live prawns which were then dropped into hot liquid – I just couldn’t eat them, I can’t do cruelty to animals, I can’t even choose a live lobster in a restaurant.
Describe your perfect day
I’d get up and have a hotel breakfast! I love the office and the interaction that I have with my team so I’d spend the morning with them, then do a bit of cooking and post a new recipe on instagram. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing one of my followers post that very recipe a little later in the day, having been inspired by mine earlier. Then I’d walk in the park with the dogs and come home to a delicious meal and a boxset with my partner and the dogs on the sofa or go for a night out with my girlfriends.
Is there anything on your bucket list that you’re yet to tick off?
Yes I really want to go to Japan! Sushi is my absolute favourite food!
What’s next for the Annabel Karmel empire?
Oh so much! We’re about to launch our app, there’s another book for older kids in the pipeline and a snack range launch – and I’ll be back in Dubai soon for Taste of Dubai!
Thank you so much Annabel! An inspiration as always x