I grew up in New Orleans in what most people outside the US call the ghettoes, but in America we refer to as 'the projects'. Despite that, I was able to take advantage of myriad opportunities for underprivileged gifted students. When we moved out of the projects, my mother worked two jobs - with a telephone company and as a part-time racing car driver - to send us to a private, progressive, and slightly kooky primary school with only 30 kids. It was called Le Monde des Enfants, which literally translates as The World of Children, and was housed in a large home on the outskirts of the French Quarter. We had a fish pond, a pet goat, a pet snake, cats and dogs to take care of as part of our daily routine, and I learned how to make a volcano with baking soda, speak French and build a goat shed. Unfortunately, the snake ran away. I guess it got tired of kids trying to see if we could tie it up like a belt. I loved almost everything about school. My best times were during spelling and quiz competitions - what can I say, I was a geek! My favourite teachers were both in high school: Fleur Simmons - I just love that name - taught English literature, and Diego Gonzalez taught Greek and Roman civilisation. Both made me think about the meaning behind what I was learning and pushed me to excel. The high point of those times was getting an A in one of Mr Gonzalez's tests, as it was very rare for him to give one to anyone. The worst teacher was for high school trigonometry and calculus. Maths was never my favourite subject, but he was a mean old git. I even saw him make football players cry in his class. One memorable incident was when I'd just been made captain of the basketball team and stole the ball from the other team. then proceeded to score in the other team's basket. That was a real rarity, as we were a bunch of bookworms, not basketball stars. In terms of extra-curricular activities, my biggest commitment was to what was known as 'junior achievement'. It was where I learned how to set up and run a company, make and sell a product, pay salaries and keep proper accounts. In fact, I still have my first company's annual report. I played lots of sports - basketball, softball and track. I was also in the French club and debating team, which is why my husband thinks he can never win an argument. I turned down local scholarships to attend The American University in Paris to study international business economics and marketing because I was interested in what I'd learned in junior achievement. I'd already been to France as an exchange student when I was 16 so it wasn't total culture shock, but it was still a big change being on my own. Being a starving student and eating spaghetti five times a week was not exactly fun. I finally decided to go back to university in New Orleans to be closer to my family. There I studied marketing and Japanese, the latter because I thought I'd eventually work for a big company there. In fact I always thought I'd work for a big corporation and then go into politics but came to realise I didn't like working for anyone except myself. I grew up around good food, as does everyone in New Orleans, but never thought I'd wind up cooking for a living. I guess it was destiny though, because I married a three-star Michelin-trained French chef. After moving to Hong Kong, a friend mentioned she knew some women who had started a catering company and I thought 'I can do that - I have pots, pans and fire'. I put an ad in the paper, got my first party booking and the rest, as they say, is history. And I did it from my 700 sq ft flat in Causeway Bay with two burners and a rice cooker. I love what I do so that makes it easy for me to do it well. Having my own business means having a choice. I can choose which events to do so that I can have some kind of balance in my life. I look back now and realise school didn't teach me how to persevere through really, really difficult times. Probably the best piece of advice I'd give is to keep a diary. I wish I'd been better at doing that consistently. If you're having a great time in school, you'll love looking back reading about your school days. If you're having an awful time, just remember that this too shall pass. Lori Granito is an entrepreneur and the founder of Go Gourmet, a catering and events company. She was talking to David Phair.