By Richard Hughes


Posted 10 December 2019

This is a part of the welcoming aroma that lingers in the hallways when you walk into the building. One of the most common questions that I am asked is,

I am looking for the International Leadership Academy (ILA). Am I in the right spot?”

I love being asked this as I then get the pleasure of first welcoming someone. “Yes! Welcome inside and get ready for an amazing day of greatness.”

Let me introduce myself.

I am Your Service Host: Richard Hughes, also known as Chef Rich, AKA MR. Whooo!

Come with me on a short, but sweet journey into ‘my world’ at the ILA where passion, creation, pressure and perfect timing comes together to deliver great food to amazing people. I will be looking after you today, and making sure you are well taken care of from this moment until you return to your normal, day-to-day world.

Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group believes, “By taking care of their people, companies create a workforce with the physical energy, mental focus, and emotional drive necessary to power their businesses and impact those critical metrics.[1]

I am part of the team that creates and provides a fantastic experience for “our people,” AKA each person that comes to the ILA. Our professional learning and development programmes supports the knowledge development for international school staff, but our goal goes beyond that. I want each person to leave us at the end of the day’s educational journey, feeling happy, healthy and engaged. One of the ways we make that happen is through healthy, nourishing and delicious food. I know that we’ve been successful when I hear,

“The food was so good! Do you have any left overs that I can take home?

I believe that great moments and memories are created, at least in part, in the kitchen. Preparing and sharing good food is what we do for our families, how we come together with friends and it is how I approach food preparation for everyone coming to the ILA. Through my culinary adventures I have worked alongside incredible chefs creating some of the most extraordinary meals or sometimes simple but tasty dishes that introduce an explosion of flavours. These flavours make you feel something! This is why I keep myself sharp and up to date on new trends and epic flavours so that I can bring that to everyone at the ILA. It’s not just about providing something to eat but instead to share a dynamic food experience!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

As I was thinking about the right “recipe” of words and thoughts for this blog, I thought that the best way to share my world with you is with a heart-warming recipe that you can try and share with your friends and family.

Adding some Holiday flavour it is like the saying goes “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”

Pumpkin soup


  • Large pan for soup
  • 1¾  Tablespoon veggie oil (Let the oil heat up in the pan)
  • 2  Large onions (chopped into cubes)
  • 3  Cloves of garlic (finely sliced)
  • 6 Carrots (Chopped into cubes)
  • 3 Large potatoes (chopped into cubes)
  • 1 Pumpkin (Whole or half chopped into block)
  • Tea spoon /salt & pepper
  • 4 Cups veggie stock
  • 4 Cups orange juice

Let the oil heat up in the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and let them sweat until golden brown. Turn down the heat, add garlic (making sure it does not burn). Add all the remaining ingredients to the hot pot with the onions & garlic and keep mixing everything together. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes. To make soup smoother, you can use a hand-blender.

Serve with a pinch of nutmeg. Croutons, bread and/or toasted pumpkin seeds are nice as well!

Holiday eggnog


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping  cream
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean pod split
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ½  cup sugar
  • ½-1 ½ cups rum brandy or bourbon

With A dash of nutmeg for garnish let it chill in the fridge for an hour or serve with a few cubes of ice and everything is merry and nice!

See you back in 2020

Until I blog again, feel free to follow me on  social media. Instagram/Twitter: ChefRich9

Let’s talk food — I would love to hear what’s going on in your kitchen for this holiday season!



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