Hello, can you tell us about yourself?
I’m Stephanie Suissesse, a real day dreamer. I love nature and am constantly amazed by everything it has to offer us. On my balcony at home, flowers, aromatic herbs and vegetables occupy an important place. I’m also intrigued by the power of our feelings and emotions and I study these areas as a hobby to gain a better understanding. As a passionate cook, I’ve made cooking my career and now combine my culinary knowledge and skills with what I’ve learned about personal development.
Where do you live?
I live in the Dorobanti district of Bucarest, Romania. It’s a lovely area close to the city centre.
How did you end up here?
My partner’s work brought us here.
Had you already lived abroad? If so, in which country?
Yes, 5 years ago I went to Scotland on my own to learn English and to work there. That’s where I met my partner and we then went off to the Republic of Congo together for his work.
How long have you been living here?
We came here just over a year ago. When we arrived, it wasn’t easy. We didn’t plan to leave the Congo and it was very rushed. So, arriving here was just the same. It took around six months to really start to benefit from our new life here and to begin to put down Romanian roots. You’ve embarked on a project:
Where did you get the idea from? Why did you choose a theme like this?
When I arrived in Romania, I wanted to invest my time in a project I could take with me anywhere. I was fed up with always starting work again from scratch.
So, why did I choose the themes of cooking and personal development?
Cooking is my passion as well as my trade but personal development came into my life rather by chance. When we arrived in the Congo, I had lost all my bearings. For the first time, I had been labelled as an ‘accompanying partner’ and had lost all my own identity. Other people saw me as “the partner of…”
However, when cooking and experimenting by using local ingredients in my dishes, I began having fun and this is how I really started to make the most of my African experience. Arriving in Romania was another major blow. I didn’t feel like doing anything and my cooking was very bland. I’d become a very meagre cook. Then, I gradually became interested in personal development as a subject, reading books and articles about it to help me get through this difficult period. I noticed that my cooking started to reflect my changes in mood and my emotions and I was impressed by this. I became more and more interested in my feelings and their impact on my cooking. Cooking is part of everyone’s daily life. Sometimes, it can be a little (or extremely) difficult to cook in your host country. That’s why I wanted to launch a project to share what I’d discovered and to help expatriates.
Tell us how you organise your activities around your personal life?
I work in a little bakery here in Bucharest 2 days a week. The rest of my week is dedicated to working on “Horizon Cooking”. I experiment in practical ways when preparing my own daily meals.
Tell us about a sudden inspirational moment of happiness?
Horizon Cooking is more than just a project or a great idea. Above all, it’s my personal mission and draws upon my life and experiences. So, whenever I reach a new milestone or get positive feedback for something I do, I’m on cloud nine and absolutely revel in it.
Can you share one of your home-made recipes with us?
Yes, brioche bread, which is really easy to make on your own or with little hands to help.
Here’s the recepie
What sort of cultural things do you enjoy right now on your own or with your family?
If you’re exploring the city, I can recommend the “walk-about free tour Bucharest”. There are various city tours and a lively team helps to recreate life under communism in the country. I was lucky enough to volunteer for them, which is how I learned so much about my new home city.
Time for a bit of culture: Can you quote one of your favourite books or paintings?
This would be the book ‘ l’école des saveurs ’ (“School of flavours”) by Erica Bauermeister. This book really inspired me to take my project forward. The author has the gift of showing how important the 5 senses are that we use in cooking and the emotions that stem from these. l’école des saveurs
(“School of flavours”)
Can you recommend a current cultural event in your city or area?
The summer season is starting and, right through the summer, the city is offering different types of festivals such as traditional Romanian music, a gourmet food festival and classical music as a tribute to the famous Romanian composer George Enescu, among others. For info on events, click here
Can you summarise the way of life in the country where you now live as an expat?
Romania has been undergoing extensive development for a quite few years, although you can still see traces of its communist past and, consequently, there’s still a slightly cold atmosphere at first.
Can you tell me about your project?
Horizon Cooking offers personal online support and gives you cooking skills by taking your feelings and emotions into account. Taking small steps, we can all
discover the relationship we have with cooking, feel the power of emotions through different dishes and, most of all, learn to enjoy cookery.
How did you develop it? How long did it take, what steps were needed?
I find cooking really fascinating, so time passes very fast. Already a year has gone by since the day I decided to invest time in this project. I took it slowly as I wanted to have a project that really suits me, one which I can take anywhere when we go off to be expats again in the future. The biggest investment I made was hiring a coach who specialises in retraining expat women.
What do you get from your professional and personal experience?
Starting out as an entrepreneur is a unique and rewarding experience. Being the only captain on board your ship is both awesome and scary. Bucharest has a crazy kind of energy when it comes to new projects, which are all fairly atypical in their own way. The richness and diversity of my meetings really motivates me. It’s great being able to work as I please and without the constraints of painstaking hours spent in the restaurant trade. Today, I can enjoy my evenings and free weekends with my partner and friends.
Can you summarise your professional journey?
I completed a 3-year cooking apprenticeship followed by a few years working in Switzerland, notably in a restaurant specialising in cooking with wild plants. Then, I left for Scotland, this time, working in two restaurants specialising in seafood. In the Republic of Congo, I was a volunteer in an orphanage and led cooking workshops to expats. Here in Bucharest, I volunteered for an NGO that promotes tourism in Romania (Bucharest), followed by a six-month pastry contract specialising in macaroons. I now work in a small bakery where everything is made from yeast. Of course, I’m also working on developing Horizon Cooking.