KATHERINE PARRY has cooked her way around the world and has written a book about it. She is now senior teacher and demonstrator at Leith's School of Food and Wine.

When did you decide that you could combine cooking and travelling?

From day one. I came across from Australia to study Cordon Bleu in Paris. I then came to England, worked for a travelling agency and moved all over Europe. I've been doing that for about eight years.

You make it sound easy.

It is easy. I had good training, obviously, and Australians are really well regarded here - we have wonderful food at home. There are lots of people travelling the world, particularly with Formula One, and high- profit people often take their own cooks. They will go on music tours as well - the job far outstrips the number of people available to do it.

If I set myself up as a dishwasher to celebrities would I get work?

Yes. Agencies have jobs at all levels. They would never let you work if you weren't up to it, but they might send you as an assistant. If you say, "All I've done is waiting, but I want to travel and I'm keen", they'll send you.

A lot of people get caught up with their lives - family, boyfriend, etc - but if you specifically want to go travelling, they think that is marvellous - as long as your references are OK.

If you've done some waiting, but have no qualifications, are there drawbacks to this?

Often, if you have good references, they will ask you to cook a meal and will assess you on that. They may send you as an assistant first of all, with someone they trust, who will report back - particularly in the music business.

It sounds as if people in Formula One and rock musicians are just self- indulgent. Are they?

No, I don't think so. The music industry is far more indulgent than Formula One, which is a sport; they are athletes, so they all have special diets. You need quite a lot of knowledge in that way. The music industry caters more to people's specific desires, although on the music tour the carpenter is just as important as the star. But you may have to change the menu to suit the stars.

What have been your best and worst jobs?

I loved working in Skibo castle in Scotland, for Peter De Savery. I worked there for eight or nine months.

My most unhappy time was working in a shooting lodge in Scotland, in the snow, on my own for weeks in a freezing cold garret, wondering why, when downstairs there were 10 million heated bedrooms. The dogs were more important there than I was.

When you're at a dinner party and people find out who you are, what question do they ask and how do you reply?

If they ask "What do you think of the food?" I say, well, it is just so fantastic that someone else has taken the time to cook for me, and that I really appreciate it.

Is cooking mostly a female profession?

We get more and more men. Our school is now more chef-oriented. Everyone reads about celebrity chefs, and wants to do that.

Isn't that a problem?

No, it's made clear from the start that before you can even begin to be a chef you need a solid grounding, and professional training. If people try to throw their weight around, we quickly sort them out.

`The Good Cook's Guide to Working Worldwide' is published by Vacation Work (01865 241978), price pounds 11.95