Leading women in Mayfair’s food and drinks world give us tips on how to make it in a male dominated industry

Hélène Darroze, executive chef, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

“Always be sincere about who you are.

“If you want to succeed, you have to work very hard – it’s like that everywhere. But after that, just be yourself.

“Be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to say when you cannot do something.”

Linda Ampadu, head pastry chef, China Tang

“The presence of women in professional kitchens is an absolute must. They are calm, organised and have a refreshing way of looking at things, while also paying attention to detail.

“It’s such a shame that the percentage of women in this industry is depreciating on account of the unfriendly working hours and tough working conditions.

“I am incredibly fortunate to work at China Tang … I can start work at 11am, which allows me time to sort out the school run before work.”

Monica Galetti, chief proprietor, Mere

“Leadership and being able to engage with your staff is essential. You have to recognise their strengths and weaknesses so they are better prepared for their daily roles.

“The team is everything. Investing in your staff only makes for stronger and better quality of service.

“It’s also important to be able to adapt and change to suit current demands, but still maintain your ethos and quality.”

Emma Underwood, general manager, Stem; co-founder, the TMRW project

“I would advise the younger generation of women entering the industry to make sure that they are constantly learning.

“Knowledge doesn’t just have to come from formal training sessions. Everything is an opportunity to progress and grow.

“From speaking to colleagues, to dining out and observing how other restaurants operate, there are a myriad of ways to stay inspired.”

Irha Atherton, co-director, The Social Company

“Stay true to yourself, be confident and most of all be kind. Be independent and believe in yourself. We all suffer from knockbacks or hard times.

“What’s important is that you keep going and look forward. It’s so rewarding to sit in a restaurant that you’ve helped to grow.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to look after customers and see them enjoying something that you’ve worked hard to achieve.”

Samyukta Nair, founder, Jamavar and Bombay Bustle

“Failings will happen, but you shouldn’t despair; instead, learn from them. Your future will undoubtedly be more successful from doing so.

“As long as you have passion, patience and perseverance, you will succeed. Remember that the underrepresentation of women in this industry by no means reflects their capability, skill and strength.”

Agnieszka Josko, food and beverage operations manager, Flemings Mayfair and Ormer Mayfair

“One of the most important things I have learnt working in hospitality is to step into this industry with passion and enthusiasm.

“This career path tends to be male-led and as a woman, it may be daunting. But I would tell anyone considering a restaurant management role to not hesitate for one moment.

“Go for it and let your personality shine through.”

Judy Joo, chef patron, Jinjuu

“Don’t  get hung up on failure – it is part of the journey and an integral part of success.

“Just focus on what you are doing and believe in it.

“The hardest thing I had to learn was that the industry is still rife with chauvinism, bullying and gaslighting.

“The #metoo moment needs to endure, and to become a movement.”

Martha Ortiz, founder Ella Canta

“The ingredients a woman brings to the kitchen are more than just what you see on the plate. It is the way we look at things and the way we react to them.

“It is our femininity. Always maintain your femininity in every dish that you create. Femininity represents beauty and strength, and we need to ensure that as women we include this within each of our plates.

“Never forget passion as a key ingredient of your gastronomic creations.”

Nieves Barragan, founder, Sabor 

“First of all, nothing comes for free – and patience is a talent that is less and less present in our industry.

“If you want to get far, you will need to pass by every position in the restaurant.

“When you start in a new restaurant, listen to them. Each place is different so listen and learn.

“Take all the good and the bad from each place and put it into practice when the time comes. Give the best you can every day.”