TORAL SHAH : SCIENTIST with MSC NUTRITIONAL SCIENCE & CHEF

Toral Shah is a scientist and chef - she has a BSc in Cell Biology from UCL and an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from University of Surrey. Her MSc thesis focussed on the importance of diet and nutrition in the prevention of breast cancer recurrence. Toral is now working on her first book explaining the science behind cancer preventing foods and sharing some of her delicious recipes.

Whilst at university, she completed several courses at Le Cordon Bleu school in London along with classes from feted chefs such as Mehernosh Mody (La Porte des Indes), Ursula Ferrigno & Rachel Green (Flying Cook).

Toral is passionate about breast cancer and cancer charities. She often commentates and speaks for charities such as Breast Cancer Now and The Haven. She recently spoke at London Health Week about the importance of diet in cancer prevention. 

"(Toral is) Passionate about feeding people healthy and delicious food with the knowledge to back it up" - Kathleen Fleming, City lawyer & writer of health & fitness blog - @Superfitandfood

My story

I’ve been passionate about people’s health and well-being since I was a child and have always wanted people to lead happy and healthy lives. I went to medical school as I wanted to be an oncologist but it just wasn’t for me - I’m too much of a softie! 

I began experimenting in the kitchen at university when I left medical school and found that I suddenly had more free time with fewer lectures in my BSc Cell Biology course. I specialised in studying cancer during the day and cooking for my friends and family in my spare time. Food became a huge passion so I studied at Le Cordon Bleu during the evenings and holiday. I probably was one of the best fed students at UCL! Still rather obsessed with cancer, I won a prestigious six-month studentship researching oncogenes at the Royal Society at UCL.

At the same time, my amazing mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Nursing my mother through her breast cancer made me realise that medicine or research were not careers for me. But  I nurtured my mum through my love of healthy eating to encourage her to eat a diet high in immune-system-building foods to help her beat cancer. 15 years later, she's going super strong and in great shape!

I had the idea for a healthy meal company 10 years ago, when I worked in the City. aI was  working, training, travelling and partying hard and realised that nutrition made a huge difference to my health and well-being. I knew I needed to learn more about nutrition so left my job and went back to university, studying for an MSc in Nutritional Medicine.

However, 2 years later, at the end of the course, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 29. My whole world was falling down around me and my plans were way-laid whilst I fought and recovered from bouts of treatment and surgery. I had started training for triathlons pre diagnosis and was determined to continue training throughout my treatment. I completed London Triathlon Olympic distance for the first time in 2007 in between various surgical treatments which was a huge achievement for me.

My doctors attributed my recovery to early diagnosis, positive attitude, training and my healthy diet. I put my recovery down to a healthy diet and knowledge of certain food’s power in the fight against cancer and disease. This inspired me to start The Urban Kitchen, linking my passions: nutrition, science and food. I am now fighting fit and love having this opportunity to share my intense passion, my incredible experiences and my expert nutritional knowledge. 

Watercress, butternut squash and arame salad

My ethos 

Real food

I'm passionate about real food which is delicious and nutrient dense; using seasonal and quality ingredients and helping people to enjoy incredible food and flavours everyday. Wherever possible, I use locally sourced, organic or free-range produce. I create recipes for all dietary requirements including dairy, gluten and wheat-free options and am highly experienced in preparing inspiring vegetarian & vegan dishes.

Balanced yet innovative

The majority of meals which mostly people commonly eat from high street restaurants and supermarkets do not fulfil recommended daily allowances of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Many 'healthy' take away meals also do not balance your macronutrient requirements with your lifestyle – this means that you will be lacking in the protein, good fats or slow-release carbohydrates which your diet needs to cater for a busy lifestyle.

I take pride in preparing recipes and food that is tailored to your needs exactly, yet tastes delicious. I believe that healthy food should never taste like 'diet' food, yet should be full of flavour. I use spices, herbs, and high quality food to satisfy taste buds and nourish your body and mind from the inside out. 

I don't believe in using artificial foods or packing it full of extra protein. Any product that is purported to be healthy but contains a long list of ingredients, most of which are chemicals, additives or preservatives, is NOT healthy!