What does it take to be a “disruptor chef”? Perhaps it calls for extensive experience in Michelin star restaurants, the launch of a cooking school, a dash of hospitality industry expertise and a generous helping of food policy consulting. At least that was part of the recipe of success for Angela Malik, an accountant turned food entrepreneur and consultant who thrives at the intersection of culinary arts and technology.
Malik’s family roots run deep in the food industry. Her father owned a chain of successful restaurants throughout Europe. However, despite his success, he encouraged Malik to pursue a career in accounting instead. Years later, when Malik told her dad that she was leaving her accounting job at KPMG to fulfill her dream of becoming a chef, it wasn’t well received.
Nevertheless, Malik took steps to make her dreams a reality. She applied to the very best culinary schools and began her studies at the Leiths School of Food and Wine in London—a place where she finally felt like she truly belonged. “I absolutely loved it,” Malik said. “For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like the odd one out. Everyone was just as obsessed with food as I was.”
She went on to work in various Michelin star restaurants in London but discovered a strong curiosity around the ways in which food, technology and education connect. “Fundamentally, I’ve always been a teacher at heart, and I love sharing knowledge, education and skills,” Malik said.
The next step on her journey involved launching a Southeast Asian e-learning cooking website, followed by a deli business. Then, a few years ago, Malik entered what she calls her “leadership phase.” She decided to take a step back to ponder what she can do next to maximize her impact and involvement in the larger conversations, such as sustainability and childhood obesity.
“I wanted to bring my contacts and connections together and work in a senior global strategic level, pulling change rather than pushing change as an entrepreneur,” Malik said. Malik became a food consultant and advisor and board member on the Mayor of London’s Food Board, where she focuses on diversity, sustainability and the emerging “foodtech” biosphere. “Ultimately, we work on how the city could become better at giving people opportunities in the food economy and how to harvest technology, from the connected city to the impact of food delivery and ensuring that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food,” Malik said.
In hindsight, Malik said that learning that you should do more than keep your head down and work hard was a pivotal moment for her. “Actually, it is about lifting your head up and shouting about what you’re good at,” Malik said. “If you don’t talk about it, it’s not going to happen.”
Malik is also passionate about getting more women and especially women of color in food leadership positions. “If you can’t see me, you can’t be me,” Malik said. “It’s very important to have women of color in powerful positions. Young women look up to you and say, if she’s there, I can do that too, because I see a pathway.”