Jenny Cheung Wing-mei left her nursing job to fulfil her dream of attending a famous culinary institute in Paris and that opportunity led to the publication of her own cook book. But despite her expertise in French cuisine, she still plans to return to nursing. The Sars epidemic in 2003 deepened registered nurse Jenny Cheung Wing-mei's commitment to living her life to the full. So last year, she gave up her well-paid job of 13 years and flew to Paris to fulfil her dream - learning to cook French cuisine. 'The [severe acute respiratory syndrome] epidemic made me realise life is short. I always believe there are different doors in our life waiting for us to open. You will never know what is behind that door unless you open it,' Miss Cheung, 34, said. Early this year, she had the opportunity to open a second door - publishing a cook book. In her first step to learning about French cuisine, Miss Cheung enrolled in the famous Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute in Paris. For some, the move may have appeared too costly, but it was something Miss Cheung had always longed to do. 'I didn't do this abruptly. I chose to leave at this time, as I had saved up enough money to support myself while I wasn't working. I had been hoping to do this for years,' she said. She has been a cooking fanatic since she was a child. 'I have cooked breakfast for my parents at weekends since I was in high school. I take great satisfaction whenever I get compliments from them,' she said. 'This is what I love about cooking. I love to see their smile when they are eating.' She said she was blessed with her talent in the kitchen, which she inherited from her mother. 'My friends often say I have a pair of magic hands. I manage to cook a dish after I see it once,' she said. Despite being raised and educated in Hong Kong, Miss Cheung said her independent character helped her to adapt to life in Paris easily. 'I moved out to live on my own when I was 18 and I often go travelling with my backpack, so I am trained to be quite independent,' she said. Her optimistic and cheerful character also helped her deal with an unhappy experience. 'If you ask me if there is any discrimination in Paris, of course there is. But I care little about it. What I care about is cooking.' But she recalled one incident, which she described as the bitterest. 'Once I learned to cook a steak, my French teacher, who is a top chef, had a taste of it. After taking a bite, he gave me a very bitter look as if he was drinking poison. But what frustrated me was that he threw my dish on the floor. There was dead silence in the classroom,' she said. 'Then I asked him which procedure could have gone wrong. Surprisingly he said, 'I was not standing behind you, how would I know?' I was shocked by this answer and it still remains a mystery now,' she said. But she said her overall experience in France was happy not sad. 'One thing which made me happy was the friends that I made. One of them is a local chef named Eric, he has taught me a lot about choosing food ingredients,' she said. Besides cooking, Miss Cheung also loves to share her recipes with others on her blog. And that led to an e-mail from a publisher when she was in Paris. 'The publisher told me he had read my blog, which I wrote about the dishes I cooked. He asked me if I was interested in writing a cook book. I thought for a second and said why not?' she laughed. 'I have been working as a nurse for the past decade and I never thought of publishing my own book. I never thought this would happen to me, but I am grateful.' The book My French Kitchen, which she described as her first 'baby', has also helped her to explore different areas - from research, writing and designing recipes. She even took her own pictures. 'I found taking pictures of my dishes was far more difficult than writing or designing recipes. I had a hard time managing the lighting, especially when the daytime was shorter in March and April in Paris,' she said. 'So sometimes I had to cook the dish repeatedly so that I could take a good picture.'