Earlier this year we reported on a 3 female culinary heavy weights answering questions about what it's like to be a female chef in a male-dominated restaurant industry; the struggles, the opportunities and the challenges for women who choose to cook professionally for a living.
Continuing on a theme The Guardian newspaper recently collected responses from 12 of the top female entrepreneurs working in the UK restaurant industry, from CEOs to head chefs and creative directors. Interviewees included, chefs Angela Hartnett (and proprietor at Murano), Skye Gyngell (Chef and Proprietor at Spring Restaurant at Somerset House) and Zoe Paskin the co-owner of The Palomar and Sophie Bathgate, director of Sophie's Steakhouse.
The 12 female entrepreneurs were asked by The Guardian to reflect on their proudest moments and their future hopes for the industry.
We picked up on some of the common themes in their responses where most interestingly pride seemed to stem from very personal career moments and most hoped for significant developments in the restaurant business to be considered as a serious industry with career prospects.
Proudest career moments
Angela Hartnett referred to her accolades of MBE, Michelin star and four AA rosettes at Murano. Business women, Catherine Salway, CEO recounted the moment she was offered funding by entrepreneur and businessman Richard Branson as a pivotal point in her career as he believed in the future success of the business.
However, Hartnett, as well as the majoirty of other entrepreneurs picked up on the less publicised rewards and the sense of personal satisfaction the industry had afforded them. From the symbolic moment of a guy painting the name on the exterior of a first restaurant, to presenting infront of a class of students and having it dawn on you for the first time what you have achieved since you were in their very shoes, to having an industry expert enjoy your food.
Whether CEO, director or head chef most of the women mirrored sentiments on the tenacity required to work in the restaurant industry. The message was loud and clear: the hours are long and the job is hard.
Whilst not all were sure if women were still underepresented in the industry others felt that women bring a unique spin on the role and that hard work and tenacity would win out.
Career prospects and rewards were considered to be areas to be improved in order to develop in the industry. Both Zoe Paskin and Hartnett referring to the breadth of skills and expertise it requires to work in the industry, For example being a restauranteur takes a different skill set to being a chef, and one doesn't naturally lead to the other. Sophie Bathgate was also keen to point out that the right attitude was fundamental and in many cases a good starting point to build the expertise.
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