Kim Wyatt, better known around Doha, especially in the food-related circle as 'Mama Baba Ganoush' is an Aussie (Australian) by birth, married with two young, energetic, crazy boys. She's lived in five countries including Qatar, Vietnam, The Bahamas, UK and Thailand. At the moment, she's juggling a few hats - she’s a food writer and contributor to several magazines, presenter/host of the I Love Qatar food show 'Dine Out Doha, public speaker, director of an award-winning company that encourages sustainability in Qatar and co-director of Qatar Volunteers.
Here is ILQ's conversation with this multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and multi-talented woman who is known and loved by many:
Kim: I’ve lived in Qatar for over eight years. Time has flown so fast! My sons know Qatar as their home – they’ve grown up here since they were very young. My journey has definitely been life changing – I’ve met incredible people from around the world and had opportunities that I would never have had anywhere else. I’ve worked hard and tried to make the most of my time here - I’m very thankful to live in Qatar.
Kim: Totally by coincidence! I never planned to be a food writer. In fact, I wanted to be a food photographer. In 2015, I started up my food Instagram account @mama_baba_ganoush. I posted photos of travel, food and culture. I was contacted by a local magazine, Ahlan Qatar, and asked to contribute a monthly food column. Things just snowballed from there.
Kim: There was no lightbulb moment but food has always been a passion from an early age. At eight years old I remember standing in our family kitchen and pretending to be a presenter of a cooking show. Never in a million years did I think I would be the presenter of a food show based in Qatar!
Kim: Three things – people, travel and culture.
Kim: It’s got to create a personal impact - it needs to appeal to me. Colour and lighting are big factors.
Kim: Because it’s my passion. It inspires me and keeps me motivated. Plus, I love inspiring other people. Feedback from other people is super important to me. If I know that someone has been inspired by my work then I feel accomplished.
Kim: The name was inspired by my kids. I used to call them baba ganoush when they were little. It was their nickname. When I was thinking of my social media name, I wanted a name that was authentic and true. I wanted to show that I was a mother with a passion for food living in the Middle East. I changed baba ganoush to 'Mama Baba Ganoush'. Then I found out that baba translates to ‘father’ in Arabic. For me, the name just clicked and ticked all the right boxes.
Kim: I’d had an idea for a food show for a while. I knew there was an amazing food industry in Qatar and I wanted to showcase that. I pitched the idea to the former ILQ videographer Darren Martinez and he liked the idea straight away. Then we filmed my first show of 'Dine Out Doha' with international celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa. I had never presented a show before. ILQ has been one of the best experiences of my life – it has given me amazing opportunities and pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Kim: I have a few people that I follow on social media that inspire me. The internet is a fantastic resource for ideas and knowledge.
Kim: I just try to be as authentic as possible. To me, that’s the key.
Kim: I’m very visual – I look at social media, magazines, movies. I collate a list of ideas that I always refer back to. If I’m writing for a magazine, I create a structure to the article. For social media, I usually always create the image first and then write a caption.
Kim: I can’t single out any particular achievement because I feel lucky to be contributing to a range of amazing publications. Every new piece feels like a major achievement for me.
Kim: It’s changed a lot in the past eight years. The blockade has certainly made a huge impact – local food entrepreneurs are more willing to take creative risks rather than rely on global franchises. Qatar is fast becoming a major player on the global food stage.
Kim: I’ve always been interested in helping others. In 2015, I started collecting food to redistribute to the community and worked on a few projects with Qatar Volunteers. Food wastage is a huge issue in the world. I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship, too, and luckily joined 'Dawar' - an award-winning company that aims to reduce, reuse and recycle food wastage.
Kim: I’ve been super lucky to interview the biggest celebrity chefs in the world – Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto, Nobu Matsuhisa, Eric Lanlard, Sanjeev Kapoor and Anna Olson. Every single chef has been brilliant to interview which has always amazed me because I’ve half expected them to be difficult. Don’t forget these are people at the top of their game in the world, so naturally, I thought they’d be demanding. But the total opposite is true. They’ve been very helpful and humble.
Kim: It’s difficult! I always feel guilty about spending time away from my kids. I’m still trying to find the perfect balance.
Kim: I have a huge list of things to do – I’m trying to work my way slowly through it! Stay tuned for more.
Kim: Since the blockade, we’ve become a stronger and more resilient nation. Qatar is an amazing country undergoing major changes and development. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the country. From an international perspective, I feel that we’re going to be hearing a lot more positive stories about Qatar and it’s people.
To know more about Mama Baba Ganoush, check out her Instagram page: @mama_baba_ganoush
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