Hulya Erdal

Hulya Erdal is a culinary educator and self-discovery coach, merging the power of cooking and transformational coaching to guide midlife women on a journey of self-discovery. She believes in the quote, “Rewrite Your Story ….because the old one no longer fits.”

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your professional journey and what inspired you to choose this career.

I grew up in East London, born to Turkish Cypriot parents, who came to the UK in the 1960s. I  spent a significant amount of my time trying to fit in and navigate life in London, as a child of immigrant parents. I spoke two languages and had a lot of cultural expectations from my family while also wanting to understand the western society I was living in. It’s definitely shaped who I am, as it made me more humble and have empathy for others from a similar background. I started my professional journey initially working in business, PR and marketing for the food and publishing sector, before moving into working as a chef and culinary educator for over 20 years. During this time I also featured on TV, wrote articles, and taught countless young people and adults how to be chefs.  What became apparent at this time was that many of my students, particularly adult students, were searching for something. They were looking to change their life in some way and hoping that the cooking would do that. Many wanted to make lifestyle and financial improvements while others just wanted to upskill. As a result, I mentored and coached while teaching, giving me an insight into why people made the choices they did. It was fascinating to get a view into the life of another and about their journey.  I had always been searching for more enrichment in my own career and one of the things I had always been good at was helping others to get clear on their needs, goals, purpose. I had always been a bit of a solution focused, growth mindset kind of person, forever the optimist and always looking for better.

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

While in my 30s and 40s, and during my career path, I also had some very personal challenges. Despite seeming to be such an optimistic person on the outside and always smiling, I struggled internally with my own self-worth and value. As a result, I tended to pick relationships that were not healthy. I married twice, and both marriages ended in divorce because of domestic abuse. After the end of my second marriage, and as a mid 40s woman, with 3 children, having to sell my family home, experiencing financial hardship and low self-esteem, I decided that after years of helping others, and putting myself last, it was time to help myself. It was a journey that took me down some very painful pathways of serious introspection and personal growth. It was the most profound and enlightening experience and best gift I could have ever given myself. I grew as a woman, and learned so much through my journey of self-discovery, I realised that this was what I wanted for countless other women everywhere.

Tell us about your goals, interests, and role models.

My mission and purpose in life is to guide midlife women on a journey of self-discovery so they can rewrite the story of their life and change the way they see themselves. This is about creating a recipe for life that works for them, rather than pleasing everyone else. It’s a journey that leads to so much joy and teaches women to live a more authentic, unapologetic life that is true to them. This is about finally putting themselves first and living their dreams for them. My interests are personal growth and development and I am currently studying for a doctorate in metaphysics. I find the workings of our inner mind and the ability to self-heal fascinating. My role models and mentors are: Louise Hay, Dr Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Byron Katy, Lisa Nicholls, Gay Hendricks, Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Les Brown and so many more.

Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?

In the past my challenges have been believing that my voice, my product, my message is worth hearing and that there are people out there that want to hear it. It’s been more about having the confidence to step forward and speak about my unique blend of cooking and coaching, because I thought I needed to be one or the other but couldn’t be both. I realised with some deep inner work on my self-efficacy skills and self-value mindset, that I have the skills and success to know that what I do is effective and can change the lives of women everywhere.  I do a lot of work on myself as I help others and it’s important to be the guiding light, walking your talk. You can only take people as far as you’re willing to go yourself and I’m willing to go far and dig deep.  I do a lot of journaling and meditation, morning and night and stop every hour to remind myself how great I am, how grateful I am and how much what I do is valuable and needed by the world.

What impact do you feel you have been able to create with your work so far and how would you want to grow in the next few years?

My impact has been immense to date, as I have changed people’s lives, whether that is through the combined cooking and coaching, or just one or the other. Women have made significant changes in the way they look at themselves, they make lifestyle changes, diet changes, mindset changes and their overall mental wellbeing and mindset shifts to something far more positive and with great optimism for achieving their goals. Most importantly, I teach them to love themselves now, inside and out and enjoy their life now, without waiting for tomorrow. Happiness is something we can all be more of, we don’t need to get things or experiences to be happy.

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

I desire to see equality for all women. A world where women can live freely, without fear of abuse and persecution. A world where women can rise up and be whatever they choose to be, where education is available for all girls and women. I would like to see a world of inclusion where we are all valued and not judged by our colour, race, religion or gender.

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?

I champion a world where we see female leaders in all industries and sectors. I champion a world where women can be selected on their merits and experience, not gender. I champion a world where there are an equal number of female and male leaders across all sectors. There is still much work to be done but if women leaders across the world work together, with male allies, and make space for their sisters to join them, then we will see great progress.

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

Never, ever give up. Do the best you can today. Each day is a new day to do better and be your best self. Show up for YOU. Be YOU. Be the best for YOU. Everything starts with one small step. And each small step adds up to get you to the top of the mountain. Remember, it’s never about the destination but the journey that gets you there. So enjoy each day of your journey and celebrate your-SELF.