Life Lessons: Amy Riolo

Known for fusing culture with cuisine, the award-winning author, food historian and cooking instructor Amy Riolo says self-belief is a powerful force.

Award-winning author, food historian and cooking instructor Amy Riolo.

Amy Riolo was dubbed 'Cook to the Kings' by a Cairo newspaper in 2008 and is due to appear at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in March.

1. Dreams can come true. I believe that anything is possible, and that we have the power to create the lives that we want for ourselves. This mentality has enabled me to heal myself from illnesses, set career goals and enjoy opportunities that seemed unattainable at first.

2. You can heal yourself. Throughout my life, I have been diagnosed with various illnesses which at one point left me disabled. In 2003 I found myself bedridden and unable to do the things that I love the most, like cook and travel. I decided to write about food and the places that I love from bed. Fortunately, the emotions that these two topics awoke in me were so powerful, that they gave me the drive that I needed to heal. I embarked on a mission to cure myself. I envisioned myself well and rejected the medical diagnosis labels that were attached to me. It was a long, bumpy road but four years later, I was better and my first book was published.

3. The best career choice is the one that makes you happy. I truly believe that we excel at what we love the most. Regardless of how much we know, or how "in demand" a career is, if we are not passionate about it, we will eventually burn out. If you do what you love, however, you are always improving and exploring new territory.

4. Cooking is a form of therapy. We were given hands for a reason. Sometimes in our hi-tech, modern lives we don't have a chance to physically create things. Cooking, on the other hand, takes us back to our origins and allows our five senses to be involved. Preparing food gives us a great sense of satisfaction for a relatively low time and cost investment. No matter what you are going through in life, if you give yourself a little time in the kitchen to prepare a favourite dish, I guarantee you'll be feeling better in no time.

5. There's always something to learn. I've never been bored in my life - not once. If you are willing to learn, grow and change, you will find opportunities everywhere. Learning keeps us current, youthful and healthy.