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From Brunel to restauranteur, TV personality, author and BBC MasterChef champion

Shelina Permalloo

Educationally, the support I received from the staff enabled me to understand what I wanted to be. I realised that social science is something that I carry in everything that I do.

Shelina, Alumni, Undergraduate

Restauranteur, TV personality and Author, Lakaz Maman Mauritian Street Kitchen

Psychology BSc - 2004

From UK

Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

After leaving Brunel I worked in public sector and third sector roles to support equality and diversity across industries. I applied for BBCs MasterChef (TV cookery competition) after around 8-10 years of working in this industry as I wanted a change and was always passionate about food.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I have a varied role as I wear a lot of hats. The day-to-day management of a restaurant is an everyday job - checking bookings, firefighting urgent issues, menu development, tasting and cooking. My media work is varied and could be radio, TV or social media work. I am a mother of a 4-year-old so I am always busy with her as well! I am also the Chair of a city-wide strategic project in Southampton so I have a lot of paperwork associated with that. Every day is always busy and no day is the same!

What’s been the highlight of your career journey so far?

Winning BBCs MasterChef in 2012 as the first woman of colour.

How would you say your Brunel experience has helped you to get where you are today?

Without Brunel I wouldn't have found the family of sisters that made me who I am today. Educationally, the support I received from the staff enabled me to understand what I wanted to be. I realised that social science is something that I carry in everything that I do. I am fascinated with human interaction, and being in the industry of food I am able to still bang the drum of equality and diversity. I have found that sharing a meal with people enables you to break down barriers, so I still feel I have a duty to change opinions and make a difference in the world. My restaurant - Lakaz Maman Mauritian Street Kitchen - supported keyworkers, homeless people, and children across Southampton during the pandemic and has become a place where we are able to support the local community.

What is your best memory of studying here?

My best memory by far was waking up early to attend lectures from Dr Stanley Gaines and Professor Dany Nobus - I was inspired by both of them and their teaching methods.

If you could give one piece of advice to current Brunel students, what would that be?

Make the most of the facilities, the extra-curriculars, and more importantly, try and do things that make a difference to others who may not be as fortunate as you!

What would be your top tip or key advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey after leaving Brunel?

Be directed in your purpose and always be kind.

#IamBrunel