My name is Paulina Mahinteh Hilda Francis. I was born in Sierra Leone in a town called BO (21/03/1984). As an African girl child it was compulsory to learn how to cook from an early age and so I began cooking at the age of nine. I am the second of three siblings within a large extended family. In my adolescent years I would watch my grandmother cooking and baking, learning her techniques and style of cooking. I was the only child that took an interest in cooking as that was an escape for me as my uncle used to sexually abuse me. I would continuously ask questions about the food and how it was prepared and cooked. I would pay attention to details such as what seasonings were used and think about ways in which I could improve the recipe. Also, i had the privilege of having the opportunity to visit different restaurants to taste and learn about foods from different cultures. I came over to England at the age of twelve due to the civil war in Sierra Leone. I lost many family members to the war including my grandmother from whom I learnt everything. I am grateful that my direct family were able to settle in the UK as refugees. I started cooking for friends and family at the age of fourteen for anytime a family event was taking place. Being in the kitchen makes me happy and I am thankful that my mother trusted me to cook and encouraged my talent.
Not only do I enjoy preparing food but I also enjoy witnessing the pleasure it brings to the people that eat it. Cooking, eating and socialising come as a package in my house. I am constantly cooking for large groups of friends and family. I am known in Sheffield for my cooking talents, and social media has enabled me to share the style and presentation of my food with a large number of people.
The name Blessone's Kitchen came about after I started referring to myself as 'Blessone’s I changed my name on Facebook and the name stuck. After surviving an abusive relationship, in which I nearly lost my life twice, I felt that 'Blessone’s was an appropriate name to use. In one incident I was attacked whilst heavily pregnant, and in another my house was set on fire whilst my children and I slept upstairs. I see myself as a survivor and recognise the fact that I am extremely blessed to be where I am today. On the (26/12/2014) I was diagnosed with stage two cervical cancer. At this point of my life I thought to myself this is it and I nearly gave up on myself. I remember thinking what am I going to do, who’s going to look after my three children if I was to pass this very moment. I remember going into my kitchen and crying my eyes out trying to think of a way out of it and I remember seeing something about alkaline base food by Dr Sebi about the different plant to eat to make your body have the right balance of alkaline in your system. I started taking my time, preparing for both myself and my children’s meal from scratch as I refused Chemotherapy and decided to do Radiotherapy instead. I felt it would not be too hash on my body. Fast forward to 2016 I was in Remission and on the (5/11/2016)I was then given the news of being cancer free and that when I realised that cooking saved my life. Throughout all the chaos in myself and my life I was giving another opportunity to take part in cooking competition show On ITV called Chopping block where I was awarded second place but to me, it felt like first place and am still in dismay about it. Furthermore I also did the BBC Sheffield radio cooking show as well as several other events in and around Sheffield
For one event I had the opportunity to meet the Mayor of Sheffield, who then asked me to do her events.
Five years later, here I am, trying to improve the lives of my children and I through my passion for food and cooking. I decided to set up my facebook page 'Blessone's Kitchen' and to show the variety of foods that I am able to cook and see what people thought about my food. It was just for fun at the beginning but many people encouraged me to put my skills to good use and actually start up a catering/Alkaline base meal business. I was given the opportunity to cater for a charity event, raising money for the local youth club and since then I decided that this was the career for me.
I find being in the kitchen and preparing food very therapeutic and uplifting, my kitchen is the heart of my home. I have a huge passion for creating and re-creating distinct and colourful dishes. Through cooking I have learnt about my strength, which is creating and recreating dishes, my weakness is learning to ask for help when it’s needed. I found out that I have a lot of patience more than I realised. I pride myself on the flavour balance and togetherness of each dish and look forward to the opportunities that my cooking may bring in the future.