Shaper: Thomasina Miers

In my early twenties I was a bit of a lost soul. I think finding out what you want to do for young people is probably the hardest thing.

I was working in the dot com industry doing internet strategy at the height of the dot com boom and I was bored silly in the middle of Soho. I should have been having a ball.

I had another four years of hunting for what I wanted to do in the food industry. I had a food stall, made sour dough bread for a bit and I went and lived in Mexico and opened up a cocktail bar.

My idea of heaven is having a table full of people eating food that I’ve prepared. I love a full table at home. My whole house was built around my kitchen.

It was always instinctive and just what I did. It wasn’t until MasterChef when these guys said, “We think you can cook. Why aren’t you a chef?”

Mexico is alive with colour and smell and senses. It’s a country of people obsessed by food. But there was no Mexican food to be found anywhere in London – there was this whole country full of food and nobody knew about it.

I had a menu in my head for a long time and these jigsaw pieces started falling into place – we found a huge site in Covent Garden and with very little experience, a lot of passion and a fair amount of craziness, we opened our doors.

My advice for starting a business? Get a partner. The hours are long, it’s tough and it’s better to share the misery and the fun. It’s good to find someone who can complement your weaknesses.

I read a quote the other day – “Eating is an act of agriculture”. Where do all the ingredients come from? How are they grown? How does what you eat affect the planet?

Food is about pleasure, it’s not about denial. We should all enjoy eating, but if we can eat with a bit of care – eat with our heads a little bit – then that would be a great thing.

Thomasina Miers – @thomasinamiers

Thomasina Miers is the 2005 ‘Masterchef’ winner, she has gone on to huge business success with Mexican food chain ‘Wahaca’.