To celebrate International Women’s Day we caught up with two of the most exciting chefs in the business – Nieves Barragan and Chantelle Nicholson.

 

Nieves Barragan, founder and head chef of one of London’s most exciting restaurants – Sabor, is renowned for taking her diners on a culinary journey around Spain. From the tapas bars of Andalucia, through to the formidable seafood restaurants of Galicia. 8 months after opening it was awarded a Michelin Star.

Who are your culinary heroes?

A few of my culinary heroes include Angela Hartnett (Chef Proprietor of Murano and Café Murano), Monica Galetti (Chef Proprietor of Mere) and Dominique Crenn (a French chef based in the US, currently the only female chef in America with 3 Michelin stars at her restaurant Atelier Crenn).

I find these chefs so inspirational because they are involved in hands-on cooking after many years in the industry; they really care about the everyday running of their kitchens and ensuring everyone has a great time in their restaurants. They are all successful businesswomen but still have food at their core.

What challenges do you think women in the industry face?

The hospitality is a challenge for everyone in it – men and women. The hours are long, it can be very physical, and often it’s a mental challenge too. Over the years, women have faced difficulties – it used to be a very macho world filled with stressful, small kitchens hidden behind closed doors – but the restaurant environment is changing and nowadays kitchens are much more open places.

We love having a mixed team of men and women at Sabor and an open kitchen to showcase what we’re doing. It’s friendly, honest and fun!

 

What advice would you give to women wanting to get into the industry?

If you love food and you love hard work – then go for it! You can’t look at it by hours or the money, it has to be about the passion. Enthusiasm and eagerness to learn are the most important thing.

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Chantelle Nicholson is the multi-award winning Chef Patron at Tredwells, in the West End’s Seven Dials.  As one of the leading female voices in the UK’s hospitality industry, Chantelle is a huge advocate for seasonality and sustainability, championing plant-based cooking through both the restaurant and her cookbook, Planted.

What challenges do you think women in the industry face?

I've been fortunate that I have never felt any barriers from being a woman in the industry. However, I think we do need to figure out a way forward in all industries that allows women to be able to have children without it impacting their careers.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

 I think it would have to be seeing people who have worked under me be successful and happy in what they do. I feel like Tredwells is a work in progress as I love the challenge of trying to be better at what we do and how we do it on a daily basis. 

Why do you think women are under- represented in the industry?

I feel there are many factors that contribute to this - but feel as a woman who can be a role model it is important for me to try and encourage people into an industry that is so rewarding! 

What is the most rewarding thing about being a chef?

 There are not many other jobs in the world where you get to see the results of your work on a daily basis. With every plate of food we give to our guests we can see an immediate result. It is quite special in that respect. Plus, we get to do what we love for a living! I love food so to be able to create and be inspired & excited by it daily is pretty awesome!

 

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