This salon was in collaboration with Drapers Arms and head chef Gina Hopkins, on Monday 9 May.
The evening focused on a panel discussion, featuring the following panelists: Journalists Lisa Markell and Karen Barnes, Chef Sam Willimas of Cafe Murano, Restaurant Manager Grace Welch of Spring, and chaired by Chef Scarlett Dixon.
The aim of this salon was to explore the current British culinary world - reflect on where we’ve come from, and to think about the future and how the hospitality world will continue to grow and develop, with a look at how women are part of that.
Part of this evening was also about providing a place for women in hospitality to get together and discuss the unique pressures of this industry, and how that may affect them, the way they work, plan their careers and develop their skills.
Are we at a tipping point? There seems to be a growing number of hospitality women featuring in the media, articles in Lucky Peach asking the question of women in kitchens, as well as companies like Corbin & King running sessions to see how to bring female chefs back into kitchens after having children.
Have tides changed? Are we at that magical tipping point? Is the traditionally male dominated world of kitchens, bars and dining rooms becoming more gender diverse? Or, is the rise in women in the industry just more exceptions to prove the rule?
Why women networks? Recently ELLE’s editor-in-chief Robbie Myers addressed a Women in Media networking event with “Do we even need a night for women? Why can’t we just be people…?” She answered simply that until we have more women in senior positions at corporations, in government, in media …etc. “we need as many ‘women in’ gatherings that we can dream up.” Film director Ava DuVernay has said that women networks are about the “value of self care” and that there are many ways to approach problems women have in many industries, “and fortifying one another and being food and fuel and fire for one another is one of those things”; and being able to feel like you belong even when you are the ‘odd man out’.
Lisa Markwell, Editor of Independent on Sunday
With Lisa as Editor, The Independent on Sunday has won awards for Weekend Newspaper of the Year and Front Page of the Year. One of just four female newspaper editors in Britain, she knows very well the difficulties of progressing in a male-dominated environment, and she’s the mother of two teenagers too. Lisa is a food enthusiast, writing restaurant reviews and has expert knowledge of the British culinary scene.
Karen Barnes, Editor of Delicious Magazine
Karen’s career in journalism spans 30 years, working in broader women’s magazines and heading up the Good Housekeeping Institute before taking the helm at delicious. magazine in April 2010. The delicious. brand – both online and in print – has an empowering, life-changing message at its heart: that anyone and everyone can learn to cook, hone their skills and enjoy the creative process of making fantastic food. In her spare time, Karen teaches food writing, is a keen musician, is a trustee for a charity working with poverty-stricken communities in Africa and is on the board of a new enterprise setting up a food-related initiative working with prisoners.
Sam Williams, Executive chef at Cafe Murano (St James & Covent Garden)
A native of South Africa, Sam has made her home in London since 1998. After varied roles at OXO Tower, Great Eastern Hotel and Goodwood, Sam found herself working alongside Angela Hartnett at the London 2012 Olympics. Always quick to spot talent, Angela brought Sam into the Murano team, and the planning for Cafe Murano began. Amongst many career highlights Sam singles out the two occasions she cooked for the late Nelson Mandela.
Grace Welch, Senior Restaurant Manager at Spring
Grace was born and raised in London. After studying film, an old friendship with restauranteur Jackson Boxer brought her into restaurants. She worked in two of his restaurants, Brunswick House and Rita's, and then was front of house at The Clove Club. Grace is currently the Senior Restaurant Manager at Spring, Skye Gyngell's restaurant in Somerset House. Grace, along with her friend Natalia Ribbe, hosts monthly industry dinners called 'Ladies of Restaurants'.
Scarlett Dixon, chef/owner of Crumble
As a new, young chef forging her way in this industry, having had a previous life in another male dominated industry (law), Scarlett is in the prime position to be leading this conversation and asking questions about where we are, and what the future has to hold.
Gina Hopkins, head chef at Drapers Arms
Gina joined the world cheffing relatively late, coming to London in 2009 to learn her trade. Often working as the sole female member of a brigade, she also recruited an almost entirely female team whilst the head chef of Brunswick House. She joined the Drapers Arms in July 2014.