She may have left Iran, as a lot of her contemporaries did, however Paris-trained pastry chef Shahrzad Shokouhivand determined to keep and work to make girls’s lives higher inside the nation.
And the icing on the cake? She and her husband now make use of 70 individuals — principally girls.
“It is solely by working right here that we’ll change issues in Iran,” mentioned the 36-year-old, talking to AFP in one in every of her two stylish cafe-pastry outlets in Tehran.
She and her husband do admit that at one stage they considered leaving the Islamic republic, selecting the path of exile.
“Most of our mates have gone to Canada, the United States or Australia,” mentioned her husband Babak Mehrabani.
“However we determined not to to migrate.”
For a lot of younger graduates, financial issues affect the determination to keep of their sanction-hit house nation or transfer overseas.
Such issues could also be bolstered by the protest motion that has swept the nation since the September dying in custody of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, following her arrest for an alleged breach of strict Islamic gown guidelines for girls.
Their determination to keep in Iran has paid off, Shokouhivand and her husband imagine.
Like many different residents of Tehran she fervently needs to hope that “issues are altering”.
“Regardless of every thing, I stay optimistic for girls in Iran,” she mentioned.
That perception is shared by 27-year-old Minoo, additionally a chef, who notes fewer girls than earlier than put on compulsory headscarves in public locations in the teeming capital.
– ‘Respect the legislation’ –
The requirement for girls to put on the scarf in public was enshrined in legislation shortly after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
“What I see on the faces of ladies at present could be very totally different from six months in the past” earlier than the protests erupted, Minoo mentioned.
Not all girls really feel the similar approach.
Homeira, a retired 58-year-old instructor, mentioned she “grew up with the veil”.
“Carrying the hijab is the legislation of our nation and we should respect the legislation,” she mentioned.
“Sadly, our younger individuals don’t settle for it and criticise the faith,” Homeira added, whereas additionally defending the proper of individuals to select.
Shokouhivand believes that as a lady, “you have got to work so much tougher if you happen to’re to achieve enterprise, at house and in addition in your social life”.
However experiencing such obstacles “additionally signifies that you progress”.
It was her childhood dream to grow to be a pastry chef, and in 2017 she went to Paris for 3 months to the famend Le Cordon Bleu cooking college.
On her return she opened a pastry store in the metropolis centre on the web site of a retailer that used to promote purses. She saved its title, Femme Stylish.
Now the well-off of Tehran flock to pattern her tarte Tatin, baba — with out the rum — and even a model of the Breton kouign amann cake.
– ‘Uncertainty’ –
Now, 5 years later, she and her husband have two outlets and a 70-strong workforce of principally girls.
The enterprise can also be worthwhile, regardless of them having to cut back their margins due to the rampant inflation sweeping the nation.
However “regardless of the uncertainty, we stay bold”.
Now she and her husband are considering of opening pastry outlets in different cities comparable to Shiraz in the south and Mashhad in the east.
And possibly additionally overseas — Dubai or Doha if they’ll discover native companions.
They even have the “barely loopy” want to open one in Paris.
However again to the current, Shokouhivand hopes to see the lifting of the extreme, principally US, sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear coverage which are squeezing the nation.
Due to the sanctions, she says, “it is rather troublesome to discover high quality chocolate, good butter and vanilla” amongst different important baking elements.
However even this downside has a plus aspect.
“It forces us to be inventive” and make extra use of Iran’s personal considerable assets of fruits, nuts and spices, like pistachios, hazelnuts and saffron.
With alcohol banned in Iran, her tackle the well-known baba is the baba Tabrizi — named for the northwestern Tabriz area — through which a syrup of cardamom and saffron replaces the rum. Scrumptious.