Milestones to Remember and Memories to Cherish

Milestones form an important part of life. Like everyone else, I have had my share of high points dotting what has been an incredible journey so far.  This proverb from the Bible describes how I view these important landmarks –

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Indeed life has been on a roll, with one milestone leading to another. Just when I thought this was the epitome, there was another milestone looming up right ahead. What is more important is that these landmark events have inspired me to grow as a person.

Among all the milestones that have marked my life so far, there are some that I hold as being special. These, I hold closer to my heart more than the others and hence thought of sharing them with you. This blog post comprises of some of my most cherished memories. I hope you will enjoy reading about them as much as I did experiencing them –

Cooking Schools That Shaped My Career

chefsybilalanaLa Scuola Internazionale Di Cucina Italiana, Alma, Italy

The starting point in my sojourn in professional cooking, I attended this school and followed training programs designed by Chef Gaultiero Marchesi, the founder of contemporary Italian cuisine. He also had the honor of being the first among Italian chefs to have held three Michelin stars, a highly commendable feat.

With Chef Marchesi

The fact that Chef Marchesi immediately took to me did wonders for my self-esteem, and enabled me to excel no matter what the hurdles were. Courtesy of his fondness for me, I was the only student whom he granted permission to take a picture with him. He always said, and I quote –

“You have to cook with the ingredients available to you,” he said. “That’s what makes for great cuisine.”

These words still act as a beacon for me, now that he is no more. Whatever he taught me will always reflect in my cooking and my actions beyond.

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With Chef Mauro Elli

Under the tutelage of Chef Mauro Elli I grasped and mastered the basics of Italian cooking. Being a part of a Michelin-star chef’s class was both a privilege and an invaluable learning experience. If anything, I can take the liberty of calling him my friend, philosopher and guide throughout the course and thereafter.

I owe my knowledge of Italian cooking to Chef Mauro Elli. A Michelin star chef, he was virtually the backbone on which my training sessions were shaped and reinforced.

italian chef


There are several aspects of this institute that remain etched in my memory. A particularly vivid recollection is that of the tunnel of trees which served as my sanctuary whenever I needed inspiration and courage.

Phuket Thai Cookery School, Phuket, Thailand

professional chef trainingLove of Thai food that drew me to this South-East Asian paradise. This school at Phuket, Thailand, emerged as a natural choice owing to its universal appeal and high credentials. I regard this as an important milestone because to begin with, it afforded me an insight into the cuisine that I love. And secondly, it enabled me to diversify and expand my portfolio.



Short and sweet though my stay in Phuket was, it benefited me in more ways than one. At the end of it, I had learned something new, and built long-lasting friendships in the process. Catch a glimpse of the skills that I cultivated in this exotic Asian paradise –

professional italian chef      professional thai cooking

Wonders of Italian Cuisine

At the mention of Italian cuisine, are you one of those who think of pizza, pasta and spaghetti? Be aware that these just form a small fraction of a cuisine that is regarded as being one of the healthiest diets in the world.

Let me tell you why I regard Italian cuisine as being important. As I mentioned earlier, I had the privilege of training under Chef Mauro Elli, one of the greatest masters of Italian cuisine. Secondly, for me it is one of the important milestones owing to having introduced me to the flavors of the Mediterranean.

professional italian chef  professional italian chef  professional italian chef

I learned that Italian cuisine is all about combining fresh seasonal ingredients. That being said, there are some trademark components that find their way into almost all Italian preparations, like olive oil, garlic and basil. Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar are common additions to create a dish which is wholesome, flavorful and does not add to your weight.

Rubbing Elbows with Greatness

nywffPattie LaBelle

I met Pattie Labelle at the New York Food & Wine Festival and was instantly impressed by her charismatic personality. She represented everything that I ever dreamt of being – self-made, empowered and independent.



Whoopi Goldberg

Participation in the New York Food & Wine Festival often facilitates contact with celebrities. On one such occasion I interacted with Whoopi Goldberg, and was enveloped by her contagious enthusiasm.

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Carla Hall

Co-host of ‘The Chew’ – a talk show dedicated to food and nutrition – Carla represents an ideal example of a professional chef. We share a lot in common, like taking an interest in other ventures in addition to our love for cooking.


Career Day Celebrations in Paterson

professional authorLife turned a full circle for me when I received a nomination as the Feature Chef for Careers Day at School 10, Paterson, New Jersey. What was regarded as the worst school in town actually surprised me. Dreams and aspirations that the children expressed reminded me of my own childhood and I could not help but marvel at their courage. On my part, I introduced them to Italian cuisine and allowed them to experiment with it.


Most importantly, they all loved my book. The teacher held a reviewing session in class for my book and it was interesting to see everyone present a candid opinion.

Final Word

Milestones are landmarks in time. At the same time they also carry a social dimension which is hard to escape. This is especially true when the interaction has been pleasant and seminal. All my milestones have been a part of the current that has taken me to various places around the globe. They are high points is a life well-lived so far.

On a professional front, milestones in my life have led me to hone my skills. Every time I achieved a significant milestone, it boosted my morale and my confidence. More importantly, it convinced me that the sky was the limit as long as I wanted it to be. At a personal level, I treat my milestones as cherished memories. Each one of them has changed me for the better and has molded me into what I am today.

I hope you have enjoyed reminiscing these wonderful moments as much as I had living them.


Sybil Alana, has a passion for food, travel, books and she's in love with love. A woman of God who lives her life on purpose. 😊

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