My name is Paulina Mahinteh Hilda Francis. I am the founder of Blessone’s Kitchen, a Sheffield-based catering service that specialises in West African and Caribbean cuisine. We have provided services for the likes of Sir Elton John and Watford F.C, while I have been one of the winners of ITV’s Chopping Block, a host for BBC Radio Sheffield’s cooking show and in 2020 I won the Kathleen Roberts Award for Grit at the Inspirational Women of Sheffield Awards.
The above has only been possible because I and everyone at Blessone’s Kitchen prepares food and caters with love. No recipe or ingredient is a substitute.
From reading that I received the Kathleen Roberts Award for Grit, you may have gathered that my success was hard won. This is true. If you want to know this story — and that of Blessone’s Kitchen — and learn about how I went on to achieve the accomplishments I opened this short bio with, then please read on. If you wish to explore Blessone’s Kitchen and the services we offer, or are just hungry and want to eat! Then please take a look around, and I look forward to hearing about how you enjoyed our food : ) Be sure to follow our catering page, @blessoneskitchen_cateringmon, on social media.
I, Paulina Francis, was born in BO, Sierra Leone, 1984. I come from a large family and am the second of three siblings. I was the only child that took an interest in cooking, and I would always watch my grandmother prepare food. It was magical. I was invested in the activities that took place in the kitchen, but it was also an escape as growing up I suffered at the hands of my extended family. The preparation of food was a way for me to block that reality out.
Like any child fascinated with food, I’d constantly ask my grandmother for details about what she was making, how she was making it and why she was preparing it the way she was. I paid attention to her processes and thought about how I could improve her recipes. Throughout my childhood, I had the privilege of being able to visit various restaurants, which meant I was able learn about foods from different cultures, but the civil war in Sierra Leone tore me away from this and led to me coming to the United Kingdom. The war took family members from me, including my grandmother, but I was grateful that my immediate family were able to settle in the UK. I was fourteen then and in Sheffield. Immediately, I began cooking for friends and family whenever there was a function that required food. The kitchen made me happy, and I am thankful that my mother and my grandmother trusted me and nurtured my talent.
By the time I was an adult, I was trapped in an abusive relationship. Twice I nearly lost my life to it; in one incident I was attacked whilst heavily pregnant, and in another my house was set on fire while my children and I slept upstairs. I managed to get out of that, but I had to face further challenges when on Boxing Day, 2014, I was diagnosed with stage two cervical cancer.
At this point I wanted to give up. I didn’t know who’d look after my children if the worst happened. But, I remember, during that period I was in the kitchen one evening, crying, and trying to think of a way out. I thought back to a video I had seen where Dr Sebi spoke about alkaline- based foods and plants we should eat for our bodies to rid itself of toxins. It inspired me. I believed a change in diet would lead me back to full health. I started to prepare meals for myself and my children from scratch. I refused chemotherapy as I thought it’d be too harsh on my body, and I opted for radiotherapy. Then, in 2016, I was in remission. On November 5th that same year, I was given the all clear. I was cancer free. Cooking and food had saved my life.
I began to refer myself as Blessone's because it was an appropriate moniker given what I had been through. I am a survivor, and I am undoubtedly blessed to be where I am today. I created the Blessone's Kitchen Facebook page not long after as I wanted to share the variety of what I could cook with friends and get feedback. It was for fun to start with, but people encouraged me to begin a catering service around alkaline-based meals after seeing what I was making. I decided to listen and take the chance. My first opportunity came in providing a catering service at a Sheffield charity event for a local youth club. It was a success, and Blessone's Kitchen was born.
My life took a brighter turn from there onwards: I was given an opportunity to take part in ITV’s Chopping Block in 2017, where I was awarded second place. It felt like first. Even now that success is surreal. I went on to host the BBC Radio Sheffield’s cooking show and catered for several events across the city and even for Sheffield’s Mayor.
Blessone’s Kitchen went on to be hired to cater for Watford F.C, small celebrities and super stars such as Sir Elton John. I also ran the community event Come Dine with Paulina in Sheffield out of my commitment to bringing together single parents through the art healthy cooking, and in turn bettering people’sunderstanding of using food to improve lifestyles. In 2020, I was the winner of the Kathleen Roberts Award for Grit at the Inspirational Women of Sheffield Awards Show.
Despite my countless challenges, I am still here, improving the lives of my children, brightening the lives of others and achieving success through my passions.
The food was amazing!
Me and my family loved them and would recommend to everyone! Flavour and presentation 5* thank you!
Will be back soon
Blessone's Kitchen deserves a food accolade for all the delicious food that is created in it's kitchen!!!
By the way the food at Whirlow Farm was awesome!!!!
I had Blessone’s Catering for the first time today. It's amazing. It takes inspiration from multiple West African cuisines and prepares them in a healthy and unique manner.
The result's are incredible and satisfying.
This food is like angels dancing on my tongue. Thank you so much for the beautiful meal today at Sparkle Sheffield autism fayre.
J. MOHAMMED JONES
Just finished eating a lovely wholesome meal by Blessone’s kitchen.
Paulina you have such talent.
Paulina's food is OUTSTANDING and that's an understatement. Every dish she cooks is made with love, passion, and talent you won't find just anywhere.