The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Check out our latest issue

Catering Staff Member Stephanie Gah reflects on upbringing, experiences with school community

Eve Phillips
Catering Staff Member Stephanie Gah shelves fresh yogurt parfaits in the school cafeteria. Each morning, Gah prepares parfaits in addition to other breakfast foods to ensure variety for the students.

Born and raised in Ivory Coast, Catering Staff Member Stephanie Gah spoke French for almost all of her childhood but packed her bags to move to London when she was 19 years old.

In a foreign environment, Gah said she learned English “on the go,” which was a stressful but rewarding experience.

Before her career in culinary services, Gah said she worked in housekeeping at a hotel in London, a job consisting of many similar hospitality skills Gah said she now uses at the school.

“Yeah, I was enjoying doing that,” Gah said. “But it broke my back.”

In need of an improved lifestyle, Gah said her move to London allowed for a “much better life.”

However, Gah said the improved working opportunities in the U.K. did not stop her from keeping in touch with her roots. In fact, she said it was her family-oriented West African upbringing that initially sparked her interest in the service industry.

As the daughter of a political refugee and a first-hand witness to poverty and hunger in her home country, Gah said her experiences have made her more conscious of values such as gratitude, kindness and respect. She said similar ethics were highly emphasized during her upbringing, so she hopes to embody them as a member of the school’s catering team.

“We have to share love with each other,” she said.

After living in London for 25 years, Gah said she has established both a personal and professional life in the city, balancing motherhood with her work and personal interests.

At the school, Gah spends her mornings in the kitchen preparing yogurt parfaits and stocking the shelves. Gah said the thrill of her job comes during lunch hours when students flood the cafeteria tables.

“You’re all happy about the food,” Gah said. “That’s our satisfaction.”

Moreover, Gah said the working environment the school has fostered in the cafeteria has granted her the opportunity to socialize both with students and her colleagues, creating relationship networks important for her work.

“Everybody is working with each other, and we always help each other,” Gah said

Since Gah’s working hours align with her children’s school holidays, Gah said she is able to maximize the time she spends with her four kids at home to prioritize their needs.

To unwind, Gah said she listens to music by primarily West African artists, which she said revives her connection with her roots. She said her appreciation for “old school” music from her childhood incorporates heavy European influences, which has blossomed into her recent passion for 1990s modern French pop.

In addition, Gah said music is essential to her social life as she enjoys organizing parties and dancing with her friends.

Beyond music, Gah said she spends much of her free time designing T-shirts, a unique but time-consuming hobby that challenges the amount of time she can spend with her family. Gah said she has been able to decompress when creating clothing and soon plans to start an online business.

Gah said it is essential that she starts her business on a small scale to maximize her time to improve before she shares her passion to the public.

“I’m practicing loads [for] friends and family before the business,” Gah said.

Additionally, Gah said the issues she observed first-hand during her childhood ultimately led her to pursue her dream of opening her own business.

“I’m from Africa,” Gah said. “There’s some kids that don’t go to school. They don’t eat, like, proper foods.”

With ambitions to open a fusion restaurant mixing her African and European roots, Gah said she hopes her love for hospitality can stretch beyond the school community. Gah said she would “start from the home level” before expanding her goal.

Ultimately, Gah said it is fundamental for her children “to appreciate what they have,” because many people in Ivory Coast cannot afford “to live comfortably.” She said the poverty she has witnessed in her home country has only made her more passionate about “making equality” wherever she can.

“Everybody deserves to be happy,” Gah said. “Everybody deserves to be. Even if it’s not too much money, we should [all] live comfortably.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Alexandra Theofilopoulou ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Multimedia Journalism.

Comments (0)

All The Standard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *