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How It Feels to Make History in the Kitchen

The Savoy is one of the most iconic hotels in England and the world. To be the first female head chef here in the 126 years since it’s been open is special. The food is classic, and I'm not going to change that, but I'll be adding a few of my own...

The Savoy is one of the most iconic hotels in England and the world, I guess. To be running the Grill kitchen is an honour. And to be the first female head chef here in the 126 years since it's been open is special. I suppose it's a landmark moment. The company (Gordon Ramsay Group) has trusted me with the position and I've worked so hard to get here, so it feels good.

The hospitality industry has loads of powerful women. There are so many great restaurants with female head chefs—all doing really brilliant things with food. To be involved in that and to be one of the women cooking at the top of the profession has always been the dream. We're all strong women—you have to be in this industry. It's just being professional, really, but I guess there's always this idea of gender roles in the workplace.


To be a head chef at a top restaurant has always been the ambition, so I wasn't going to let anything get in the way. And there are more and more amazing women coming through. At my last place as head chef at The York & Albany, our brigade was about a 60 to 40 percent split male to female ratio, but I've been in kitchens where it's been half and half.

We all know it's still male dominated, like a lot of other industries, but I think that's been changing. I think it's time. And that reflects society, too. The hospitality industry is probably a good sign post for everything. There's been loads of press around it, and everyone—including fellow chefs—has been really supportive.

Gordon Ramsay has been a pretty good champion of that. Since I came back from working in the US, I've been working for the group. Obviously I did MasterChef Professionals too, which really helped me discover what I wanted and where I wanted to be: here. It was a learning curve and helped me really see what's there to be achieved. It was definitely a good move to come back to the UK and do this. Gordon Ramsay helped raise loads of talented chefs up to new heights.

Working for him has been fantastic. To be given this role with a huge amount of trust is the next step, and I'm proud to be here. Just looking through all the celebs and dignitaries that have come here to dine is amazing.

The food at the Savoy Grill is classic and I'm not going to change that. It's all about great meat and fish and the roast trolley, but of course, I'll be adding a few of my own touches. I want to bring my take to the menu. Any head chef would want to do that. It's all about the place, the history and the environment, and projecting that through the food. The décor, the celebrity guests, it's all part of it. I've got a strong team here and we want to keep with the traditional dishes (which requires the best quality cuts of meat there is) is so important.


There's all the other stuff too; keeping it sustainable and seasonal. Every chef talks about that. With the Savoy Grill, it's crucial to have a quality supplier for meat above anything else. It's just exciting to be in the kitchen and coming up with ideas.

I'm also experimenting a bit and trying out a few things. I've got one dish in the making at the moment—a mille feuille, but I'm doing it with wild strawberries, some balsamic, basil, and tonka beans.

It's been a real journey to get to this point. I've been fortunate to work at some great restaurants with some really inspirational chefs. There's been lots of attention, and to a point, I'm in the limelight.

But gender won't define anything past making a bit of history. Now, it's just about the cooking.

As told to Josh Barrie