This weekend, I caught an episode of ITV’s Saturday Kitchen (Season 7 Episode 10), where James Martin was joined by Sally Abé, a fine-dining chef at the top of her profession, who has worked at many well-known kitchens across the country, including; The Savoy, Claridge’s, The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms, under chefs such as; Gordon Ramsay and Brett Graham.

What piqued my interest was how she was sharing the realities of working in the hospitality profession and chatting about how it has always been a difficult industry to work in… but, she stressed that the biggest requirement needed now from leaders, was to focus on teams and treat staff like family… stressing that leaders need to review the culture of their operation… meaning, for example, ‘saying goodbye to long 16 hour shifts and encouraging breaks and holidays.’

As the Founder of The Hospitality Hero, I say here, here!

Today, Sally helms The Pem, a fine-dining restaurant with a central London location in Conrad London St James Hotel. And, last week, as part of International Women’s Day on the 8th March, Sally, explained to Micheline Guide the significance of the restaurant’s name and how she succeeded in a male-dominated environment. 

She said; “The restaurant name is inspired by suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, whose family used the pet name ‘Pem’ for her, and celebrates generations of pioneering women leading from the front.

“I don’t mind who works for me – it’s about their attitude. I find that women tend to want to work for me, because they know they’re entering a respectful environment.

“My advice for young female chefs entering the industry would be: don’t settle for working in a restaurant where you’re not made to feel safe and respected, keep looking for one that has the right environment and it’ll allow you to thrive both personally and professionally.”

What an inspiration!

And, I totally agree that hospitality leaders need to focus on teams and wellbeing, adopting proactive strategies to reinvigorate teams and cultivate a supportive, safe and respectful work environment.

Be interested in your staff wellbeing and wellness and lead from the top. And, by leading with empathy and prioritising employee wellness, hospitality leaders can navigate through challenges and build resilient, motivated teams poised for success.

Finally, ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen’, due to be launched this summer, is the story of Sally Abe’s rise to become an award-winning chef in the brutal world of restaurant kitchens; how a girl from the midlands who used to cook herself Smash to get by, is now one of the most successful fine-dining chefs working today. Sally’s story is also a stirring manifesto – drawing back the curtain on restaurant kitchens to show how she is endeavouring to change them for the better. Filled with stories of Michelin-starred food, the relentlessness of kitchens, as well as the hope for the future of the culinary landscape, Sally’s memoir is set to become a classic.

I’ve pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait to read it.

Sally is a great example of a Hospitality Hero.


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