Kali Davidson

Up close & personal with Kali Davidson, the first female head of Birmingham’s renowned College of Food, back where she was trained 35 years ago


I was born and bred in Edgbaston to a very loud Punjabi family. I was making samosas and helping my dad cater for family and friends’ weddings from the age of eight and got the bug. I didn’t actually taste British food until I started high school – it was macaroni cheese and steamed pudding and I loved it! Since training at Birmingham College of Food, where I was voted best student of the year, I’ve done some great things. I was a fine dining chef at French restaurant Le Biarritz, then a trouble-shooter for Compass, helping companies struggling with their contract catering. I was a cross between Gordon Ramsay and Nanny McPhee – I wouldn’t leave the place until it was running effectively. It was working at Aston University on the Youth Opportunities Programme that I discovered a passion for teaching and became a pastry and kitchen larder skills lecturer at the exact same place where I trained all those years before.   


For 10 years, I taught contemporary patisserie skills to students on the college of food’s bakery, food and hospitality degrees, as well as Level 3 students, who make the plated desserts for the award-winning Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food. 


The main thing for me is bringing people along and identifying strengths. I can’t bear it when I hear a student say their teacher told them they would be nothing. One of our graduates and Michelin star chef Adam Smith did an online talk for students last week and said exactly this. I could’ve burst with pride. Personally, I would like to continue to support and fund the Sikh Temple communities in Northern India.


One of my biggest successes professionally was achieving my Master’s in Education (MEd) at University of Birmingham while teaching full-time. And as a lecturer, I got to teach in Barbados, organise work placements for Erasmus students and present and demonstrate the university’s master’s courses in Mumbai to attract international students. Away from work, I’m a massive Liverpool Football Club supporter and one of my great highlights is getting to watch my team play at Anfield. Right up there is dining twice at three Michelin star restaurant Geranium in Denmark, which showcases organic and biodynamic ingredients using modern techniques, and meeting head chef Rasmus Kofoed. 


To seize every opportunity as nothing lasts forever. 


I love how cosmopolitan Birmingham is. The blend and mix of cultures and food is incredible.


I love going to shows at the theatre and watching football. I also really miss travelling. And I can’t wait to be able to dine out again in our great city.