Welcome to CODE Hospitality’s Women of the Year 2023. Now in its fifth year, the list – previously known as 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality – returns to champion the unsung female heroes of our industry.
With over 500 nominations submitted across the categories of campaigners, disruptors, connectors and leaders this year, our judges selected 83 standout women from a diverse range of career paths who have been changing the face of our industry over the past 12 months.
This year, we revealed the individual award winners for each category, and announced the Lifetime Achievement Award winner as well as our overall Woman of the Year at an event in central London on Wednesday 29 March.
All nominees were considered under the following four categories. From the final list of entrants, the judging panel selected winners of each category, a Lifetime Achievement Award winner as well Hospitality’s Woman of the Year 2023.
Advocating for special causes and meaningful change within the hospitality industry
Challenging the status quo and changing the perception of hospitality across the industry and beyond
Building networks and sharing connections for the benefit of the hospitality community
A source of advice and inspiration; creating opportunities for others to succeed
A message from our sponsor
Bibendum Wine is proud to be the headline sponsor of this year’s CODE Hospitality’s Women of the Year 2023. As part of our focus on ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’, we recognise the gender gap that still exists in the industry – and are actively trying to be part of the solution, while celebrating the brilliant female stars pushing the boundaries for change. This year we’ll run various campaigns and activities around women in hospitality, to create a collaborative space for collective improvement, sharing and actioning real change.
As a premium wine specialist, Bibendum has stood at the forefront of the wine industry for the past 40 years, and we continue to pave the way today. As an On Trade specialist, we work with a huge range of customers, from Michelin-starred restaurants, to cocktail bars and pub groups. We shake up the sustainable status-quo, partnering with mindful producers, while pursuing a positive impact on the planet and our communities.
We work with over 280 of the world’s most talented winemakers, and in addition to our core range, we also offer an ever-evolving selection of fine wines from across the globe.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Cookbook author & Director, MW Eat
Few have done more to fly the flag for Indian food and restaurants than Camellia Panjabi, who has long banged the drum for her country’s diverse cuisine. When, in 1982, Mumbai-born Panjabi set up the Bombay Brasserie in London for the Taj Group, she introduced regional Indian cooking to the UK and started a changed perception of Indian restaurants. Until then exposure to the cuisine had been via Bangladeshi-owned high street curry houses offering menus adapted for a white clientele. Since 2001, Panjabi, in collaboration with her sister Namita and her brother-in-law Ranjit Mathrani, has been at the forefront of a varied and rapidly evolving Indian restaurant scene with her MW Eat portfolio of restaurants in London – Amaya, Chutney Mary and Veeraswamy, as well as through MW Eat’s more informal Masala Zone restaurants found throughout the capital. Her cookbook, 50 Great Curries of India (first published in 1994) has sold 1.5 million copies in seven languages.
Woman of the Year 2023
CEO, LSL Capital
“Sam’s unique vision and perspective is progressively transforming the hospitality industry in London,” reads one of the many nominations for Samyukta Nair. As CEO of LSL Capital, Nair is the name behind leading Indian restaurants Jamavar and Bombay Bustle and in the past two years she has branched into new territory with contemporary izakaya Koyn, Chinese restaurant Mimi Mei Fair and French-Mediterranean bistro Socca. LSL (Leela Scottish Lace) Capital was founded by Nair and her father Dinesh after the family’s globally renowned Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts was sold. The hotel operation grounded Nair in design, project development and operations which she now brings to her immersive, luxury style of hospitality across a growing group. “I am blessed to be doing something I am incredibly passionate about, with a great team and a wonderful community constantly supporting me,” Nair told Delicious Magazine. “This is only the beginning for us at LSL Capital. I’m very excited and want to keep doing more.”
Advocating for special causes and meaningful change within the hospitality industry
Campaigner of the Year
Head of sourcing & development, Super 8
As head of sourcing and development at Super 8, the group behind much-loved London restaurants Kiln, Smoking Goat and Brat, SongSoo Kim’s knowledge and passion for building truly sustainable supply chains, where producers are treated as partners rather than suppliers, is second to none. Having worked for the group for five years, her role in dish development and striving for a better working culture marks her out as a leader in the field. Working closely with Flourish farm this year to source new, rare varieties for Brat, Kim is bringing new levels of flavour to the UK restaurant scene. “The cultural knowledge she has of Southeast Asian cooking is a big factor in keeping Smoking Goat and Kiln at the top of their game,” says one nominator.
Activist, chef, author, co-founder, Cook for Ukraine
Until 2022 Hercules was best known as the supremely talented writer of recipe books including Mamushka and Summer Kitchens, shining a light on the diverse cuisines of Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Her books have greatly expanded knowledge of the region’s extensive and often misunderstood food cultures. Yet when Russia invaded her homeland in February Hercules immediately became an activist, launching #CookforUkraine. The initiative to raise funds for the relief effort inspired restaurants to donate, bakeries to run charity bake sales and home cooks to participate too. Hercules has been an inspirational force over the past year, and #CookforUkraine has raised a remarkable £3m for Unicef, Choose Love and other charities.
Writer & cook, Fowl Mouths Food
In 2014 Thompson, then a national newspaper journalist, started a monthly supper club serving Japanese comfort food – and she has since had a meteoric rise in the culinary world. Alongside successful pop-up restaurants and tireless anti-racism campaigning, Thompson finds time to write a column for BBC Good Food, consult on race, diversity and inclusion for global food brands and national publications, and in 2022 launched her brilliant debut cookbook, Motherland, which expertly combines Jamaican cuisine and history. “While it’s vital for us to educate ourselves, Thompson makes the process of learning a delicious one,” writes reviewer Lauren Bowes. Thompson was named the Professional Publishers Association food writer of the year in 2022.
Karen Jones DBE
Chair, Prezzo, Hawksmoor, Mowgli, Deliveroo & co-chair, The Hospitality Sector Council
Jones was awarded a damehood in 2022 for her services to the hospitality industry, a fitting reward for a long spell at the top of the food and drink sector. After launching Theme Restaurants in her 20s, Jones founded Café Rouge in 1989 and has since become part of leadership groups at some of Britain’s most popular restaurants and hospitality businesses. “Business is fascinating and hospitality is my passion,” Jones said after earning her honours. “To be recognised for services to both makes me want to be better and do more.” Her role as co-chair of The Hospitality Sector Council is vital to working with government and how it supports hospitality.
Lisa Tse MBE & Helen Tse MBE
Restaurateurs, Sweet Mandarin
Sisters Helen and Lisa’s spot in Manchester’s Northern Quarter has become one of the city’s most popular restaurants, particularly noted for catering to a variety of allergens without upping the costs, while staying true to the authentic Chinese recipes they were brought up on. Not only that, they’ve taught in schools, catered for two prime ministers and received MBEs for services to food and drink. The desire is to encourage all restaurants to take allergens seriously, and one nominator commended Lisa’s ability to juggle motherhood with running a successful hospitality business. “There are very few Chinese women owning their own establishment and making it in a man’s world,” said another nominator.
Head of Quality, Assembly Coffee
Wallace is a pioneer in a field that has for too long been dominated by men. Working in the coffee industry for the past decade, across a number of different roles, including Head Barista and Barista Trainer at Brew Lab Coffee in Edinburgh, she has risen to head of quality at one of the country’s best roasters, all the while doing her best to shine a light on women in coffee. In 2022 Wallace won the UK national barista title, the first woman in 18 years, and finished third at a global tournament in Melbourne. Wallace has participated in numerous panel discussions, female-focused events, group training events and individual mentorship, passing on her knowledge of the barista competition sphere and coffee industry more generally. According to a nominator, “Claire is one of, if not the best faces at the moment representing the industry.”
Head of Coffee, Origin Coffee
In her new role at Origin Coffee, Yuan, a professional taster and buyer, strives to create a fairer way to conduct coffee buying through transparency and direct trade. Yuan has earned multiple awards in the coffee industry, including winning the SCA UK Cup Tasters in 2017, 2018 and 2020 and finishing third at the World Cup Tasters 2017. She specialises in the sensory side of coffee tasting and at Origin will travel the world in search of the best sustainable coffees.
Tsybytovska and partner Yurii Kovryzhenko, a Ukrainian chef and culinary ambassador, were in London in February 2022 as part of a 10-day trip when Russia invaded their homeland. They remained in the UK and have since campaigned tirelessly to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds and promote Ukrainian culture, primarily through their brilliant new Ukrainian restaurant – staffed by refugees from the war – and a number of charity events and fundraising dinners across London. Tsybytovska runs front of house at Mriya (which means ‘dream’ in Ukrainian) and is a welcoming presence with a clear passion for promoting her homeland. Mriya has become a ‘cultural embassy’, showcasing design and art as well as food and drink.
Chef-founder, Syrian Sunflower Kitchen
Khoury is a chef, human rights and feminist activist from Syria who fled the country after being imprisoned in 2015 for feeding refugees. After fleeing to Lebanon, Khoury arrived in the UK in 2018 and has campaigned continuously to raise awareness and funds for Syria’s civilian population via supper clubs and cooking classes. She has helped support groups like the White Helmets who have come to the aid of thousands during the war, the pandemic and the recent earthquake. “Food is very important,” says Khoury. “When you share food with people, they will care more about you and listen to you.”
Founder & CEO, Fair Shot Café
From its new home in Covent Garden, Fair Shot, a not for-profit café founded by the then 24-year-old Tavella in 2019, serves some of London’s best coffee with a conscience. The aim is to transform the lives of young people with learning disabilities, providing training and employment – either at the café or elsewhere, including employment partners like Tog or Gentleman Baristas – and helping tackle the 94% unemployment rate among adults with learning disabilities. The cafe’s vision is to “create a society where adults with learning disabilities and/or autism have an equal and fair chance at obtaining and maintaining employment.”
Comms & partnerships, StreetSmart
In November and December every year, participating restaurants add £1 to diners’ bills to raise funds for StreetSmart. Founded in 1998, the charity has raised over £11m for homeless charities, providing meals, beds, jobs, training schemes, housing advice and more. Coke is central to the charity’s operations having joined just before the pandemic, and works hard to keep its reputation alive, participating restaurants engaged and visiting the homeless projects across London. Coke created the StreetSmart ambassador programme and arranges the charity events, while running social media, too. On the side, Coke runs The Restaurant VA, a service offering bespoke restaurant recommendations.
Helen Evans was fundamental to the rise of Flor, one of London’s most respected bakeries until it shut its doors last year. This year Evans, who has worked across the world from Melbourne to Lima, will open Eric’s in south London and continue to bake delicious loaves and pastries from the finest sustainably grown ingredients. She has helped raise funds for the earthquake in Syria and Turkey through bake sales and will run sourdough and pastry making workshops and collaborations with other leading female bakers, including Anna Higham, author of The Last Bite, and Sarah Lemanski, owner of Nova Bakehouse in Leeds.
Director of business development & strategic partnerships, Belu
Founded in 2004, Belu is a social enterprise that aims to put people and environment first. Since 2011 it has given 100% of net profit to Water Aid, which helps provide clean water around the world. Pearson joined Belu from Water Aid and is a driving force in switching UK restaurants and hotels to serving mineral and filtered water with the lowest possible carbon footprint. Belu’s purpose is “to deliver for people and planet at the same time as hopefully inspiring some other businesses to do business better along the way.”
Head of HR, Hawksmoor
In her five years at Hawksmoor, Gassne has done much to promote wellbeing at the group. She has focused much of her attention on women’s safety, delivering “respect and support” training to hundreds of team members and working with the Mayor of London by representing hospitality on the Women’s Night Safety Charter. She was named Hawksmoor’s ‘Hospitality Hero’ last year for the role she plays in ensuring every member of the team feels supported, is treated fairly and has a good manager. An “incredibly well loved and respected” member of the team, she has contributed to making Hawksmoor a “great place to work”.
London’s neighbourhood wine bar scene has blossomed over the past decade, but Finley’s stands out from the crowd in its commitment to serving produce from female-led and LGBTQ+ businesses, whether winemakers, breweries, butchers or cheesemakers. Smith aims to educate customers about all the brilliant female winemakers. In an industry long dominated by men, Smith, originally from Brisbane, says it’s “important to us to support brands that not only are delicious but also make a difference.”
Food writer, historian, curator, campaigner, co-founder, Cook for Ukraine
Like her good friend Hercules, prior to the war in Ukraine Russian-born Timoshkina was best known for her cookery book Salt & Time, which aimed to alter preconceptions about food within the former Soviet Union. The pair have become a rare symbol of unity, and #CookforUkraine, alongside raising funds, has attempted to use food to educate and highlight the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Since arriving in London from Osaka without a word of English in 1998, Priestman has gone on to showcase the unique cuisine of her hometown and create one of the city’s best Japanese restaurants, which now has three branches. From a stall on Brick Lane to her first restaurant in Brixton Village 13 years ago, Priestman now has further sites in Loughborough Junction and on the Southbank. “She was one of the best bosses I’ve ever had and has stayed a mentor to me and a great inspiration,” says a former employee. “She has a lot of regular customers who love her.”
Head baker & owner, Hearth
Hearth bakery is sustainable in every sense, using responsibly farmed produce while ensuring a healthy working environment for employees with a living wage, appropriate hours and mental health care. On top of that, late last year Collins launched a remarkable initiative, The People’s Oven, allowing locals to use the bakery’s oven when energy prices soared, harking back to the medieval tradition of communal cooking spaces. “Maisie works tirelessly to provide an example of what hospitality can be, not only to its team but to the wider community.”
Journalist & broadcaster, BBC The Food Programme
Dillon is the doyenne of British food broadcasting, helming the BBC’s longstanding Food Programme since 2001, adding her unique voice and perspective to the flagship food show. She has reported on some of the culinary world’s most important and controversial topics, from the BSE scandal to the rise of GMs and the growth of organic food. The Food Programme retains its mix of hard-hitting reportage and more light-hearted fare, and Dillon has earned an honorary degree from City University for “changing the way in which we think about food.”
SVP & managing director Europe, IHG & co-chair, Tourism Industry Council
Sheppard was appointed co-chair of the Tourism Industry Council at the end of 2021 and has since played a pivotal role in helping the UK’s tourism industry recover post-pandemic. Sheppard is one of the most respected industry figures, overseeing 750 hotels across 39 countries (including 350 hotels in the UK) at InterContinental Hotels Group, where she has worked for two decades. Her work at the Tourism Industry Council to campaign to restore the UK as a world-leading visitor destination – a vital part of the UK economy – cements her position on this year’s list.
Challenging the status quo and changing the perception of hospitality across the industry and beyond
Disruptor of the Year
Global VP of F&B, Ennismore & co-founder / editor-at-large, London on the Inside
The indefatigable Pearson could lay claim to being one of the hardest working women in hospitality – along with her team, she works on hundreds of projects globally at a time. After founding London on the Inside in 2010 – a digital publication spotlighting the capital’s best restaurants – she has gone on to play a pivotal role in developing Ennismore’s global food and beverage operations, which include The Hoxton hotel group and Gleneagles. Under the Carte Blanched F&B studio portfolio, she is responsible for creative across all projects. In 2022 she found the time to launch Sausage Press, a series of print guides celebrating London’s food and drink scene. Pearson has always sought to promote women. “I have an all-female creative team at Ennismore and, aside from [LOTI Co-founder] Ben, an all-female team at LOTI, all of whom are incredibly good at their roles and inspire me daily,” she told Foodism. “I think the industry needs more female leaders globally. I’m keen to work with more female-led businesses to help accelerate their growth, too.”
Head chef & owner, Cook House & Long Friday
Hedworth is a shining example of how hospitality can change people’s lives. Stuck in a job she didn’t love, Hedworth started a recipe blog and pay-what-you-think supper club before opening her first restaurant, Cook House. Largely self taught, she opened her second establishment, Long Friday, in 2021 and last year helped raise thousands of pounds for #CookforUkraine. Cook House has received multiple plaudits for its welcoming, homely feel and brilliant food, including Financial Times Restaurant of the Year in 2019, and in the same year Hedworth’s debut cookbook, Recipes and Stories from Cook House, was named Food Book of the Year by The Sunday Times, Telegraph and The Week.
CEO & co-founder, WNWN Food Labs
Hawaii-born, Korean-American Pak, a former banker, turned her thoughts towards food and sustainability, co-founding WNWN Food Labs in 2020, going on to create a cocoa-free chocolate that tastes, melts and bakes like the real thing. Just months after launching Pak’s chocolate was featured at Mr Lyan’s and eco-conscious restaurants like Fallow and Silo were impressed. Ahrum has been named one of Green Business’s “12 women building sustainable food systems’ and won ‘Best Finished Product’ at the World Confectionary Conference last year. Pak stands out as a young woman leading change in a world dominated by huge multinationals, proving Britain’s hospitality industry can pioneer sustainable and ethical progress.
Chef-founder, Shola-Karachi Kitchen
Khan, a mother of two, arrived in Britain from Pakistan and quickly set up her own restaurant, appearing on TV and becoming a prominent inspiration to Pakistani women in hospitality. Less than a year into her restaurant’s life it was forced to shut due to the pandemic, but the much-loved Shola-Karachi Kitchen has since gone from strength to strength, and Khan, who mentors and inspires many young women, has had residencies at Soho House, showcasing her cuisine to a wider audience.
Head of event production, Carousel
Sargeant expertly runs events, an often overlooked sector of hospitality, at Carousel. The events range from hosting parties at the Charlotte Street site to private dining and brand events or away days. Her “creative flair, extraordinary attention to detail and understanding of what customers want” make Carousel’s events run smoothly, and Carousel’s guest chef series have become some of the hottest tickets in town, spotlighting some of the brightest up-and-coming chef talent.
Skills director, UKHospitality
UKHospitality’s campaigning and lobbying in favour of the hospitality industry is a never-ending endeavour, and one of its key functions now is to address labour shortages and hospitality closures. Appointed last year, Kelly’s role covers providing skills in secondary, further, higher education and apprenticeships and boosting employer involvement in the creation of a skilled workforce that will help see Britain’s hospitality venues through these turbulent times. At a time when recruitment in hospitality needs to evolve, Kelly’s role at UKHospitality is more vital than ever.
Rebecca May Johnson
Writer & co-editor, Vittles
2022 was a stellar year for May Johnson with the release of her first book, Small Fires. For those expecting a standard glossy recipe book, however, this was far from it. May Johnson’s stated aim was to “blow up the kitchen” and her book, which encompasses memoir, social criticism and commentary certainly did that, placing cooking as a feminist issue and garnering a long list of positive reviews. May Johnson is a “fresh, insightful, rigorous and quietly revolutionary voice” in food writing, as subscribers to her Substack, Dinner Document, will no doubt attest. Last year she also became a co-editor of Vittles, the food newsletter that aims to transform the way food is written about.
Chef-owner, The Little Chartroom & Eleanore
Hall-McCarron, a rare female presence on the often male-dominated BBC show Great British Menu, leads two of Edinburgh’s most respected and perennially busy restaurants. Incredibly passionate about Scottish produce, she was invited to speak at San Sebastian Gastronomika, where she eulogised Scotland’s larder. Last year Hall-McCarron spoke of her desire to show women it was possible to have a family and raise children while maintaining a career as a top chef.
Ella de Beer
Head of people, MJMK & Director, Electric Mayonnaise
De Beer’s work at Electric Mayonnaise, a professional development platform which she co-founded in 2017, and MJMK has long focused on disrupting traditional routes into hospitality. Her Into Hospitality programme at Electric Mayonnaise helped teach hospitality skills to unemployed and hard-to-reach communities. She joined MJMK in 2022 and quickly launched a networking group for women in hospitality. This year she hopes to disrupt traditional apprenticeships, making them more engaging and relevant.
Founder & CEO, onezone
Spotting a gap in the market for a tastefully curated online restaurant discovery platform providing an easier way to discover restaurants and bars, Zone founded onezone in 2019 with a mission to help millennials cut down on the time spent finding the right restaurant. Zone has made a conscious decision to hire and promote women: “I am determined to have a strong female team and find those mentors and leaders to show the next generation what is possible,” she told Raconteur earlier this year. Since launching in London onezone now runs in several cities across Europe and has a premium subscription membership too.
Anne & Christie Banks
Co-owner & head of livestock, Tommy Banks Group
They may not always get the credit but Anne and her daughter-in-law Christie Banks play a fundamental role in the Michelin-starred, family-run The Black Swan. In their quest to be fully self-sufficient, Anne ensures the farm’s own produce is grown and harvested for use in the kitchens at The Black Swan and the Banks’ other restaurant, Roots, while Christie oversees the ethical rearing of all the farm’s animals.
TV chef, presenter, co-director, Ga Ga
Lin has been showcasing the food and culture of Malaysia for almost a decade, having burst onto the scene on MasterChef in 2014. After working at street food stalls in Glasgow Lin opened Julie’s Kopitiam in 2017, inspired by traditional Malay coffee houses, with Ga Ga following in 2021. Her own brand of Scottish-inflected Malaysian cooking is much loved across Glasgow, and despite Julie’s Kopitiam closing earlier this year, the future looks bright for Lin.
Director, Philip Warren Butchers
Philip Warren has become one of the UK’s leading butchers, with chefs across the country, including Paul Ainsworth and Tomos Parry, sourcing from the Cornish supplier. Karenza makes sure the business runs smoothly, running the accounts and playing a crucial role in ensuring the enterprise has grown. Along with husband Ian, Karenza helped launch the Good Beef Index, changing the way British meat is graded, with an emphasis on quality not quantity.
Brand director, The Alchemist
From its beginnings as a small group of bars in the north of England, The Alchemist has grown into an international brand, in no small part down to the efforts of McPhee. Aside from creative drinks, McPhee champions all manner of campaigns, from carbon neutrality to launching NFTs, and has led the brand’s international expansion, from a small Manchester company to opening a first overseas venue in Berlin last year. The strong brand identity and social media presence is a testament to McPhee’s leadership and vision. “Jenny is an inspiration and the reason why I’ve continued this path into the weird and wonderful world of hospitality,” says one Alchemist employee.
Whisky Ambassador, The Fife Arms
The whisky industry was once male dominated, but things are changing. Spearheading this change is Fennema, a former classical musician who quit her musical career to focus on her passion for Scotland’s finest export. As Whisky Ambassador she helps put the fun back into whisky at the Fife Arms in the Highlands, using her vast expertise to create new cocktails or hosting tastings showcasing the hotel’s 365 whiskies. Fennema also runs the Braemar Highland Experience – bespoke guided (whisky-focused) tours. “It’s lovely to have the opportunity to introduce people to whisky – its stories, how it’s made, and the people who make it,” says Fennema.
Senior marketing lead, Mr Yum
The pandemic greatly accelerated the trend towards tech in the hospitality industry, and Mr Yum has emerged as one of the leading mobile ordering and payment platforms, using data to help restaurants increase order sizes and return visits. Ong has played a vital role in Mr Yum’s success, as well as its partnership with homeless charity Only A Pavement Away and getting involved with the Winter Warmth Week campaign. She also organises events for the hospitality community, including Table Talk which was held in Manchester, Liverpool and London.
Founder, Virtual Beer School
Watson’s passion for making high quality beer affordable and accessible is plain to see. During the pandemic, her Virtual Beer School offered the chance for hundreds of beer aficionados to pursue their passion and help prepare them for the Cicerone Certification Programme. Since its foundation in September 2020 over 300 students have completed the programme, with nearly 100 passing their Certified Beer Server exam. Watson is also the host of the entertaining Beer with Nat podcast and author of Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles and is playing a vital role in nurturing the next generation of beer experts.
Founder & owner, Happy Endings
Mercieca has shaken up the dessert scene with her range of nostalgic, ethically sourced ice cream sandwiches and soft-serve combinations. Founded in 2014, a YBF baking award followed for Mercieca in 2017, and in the intervening years Happy Endings has gained a loyal cult following. An emphasis on happy relationships has helped the business develop and grow, and Happy Endings has added a sense of fun to Britain’s dining scene.
Sommelier, brewer, broadcaster & presenter, BBC The Food Programme
One of the hardest working women in hospitality, Wise is something of a renaissance woman and has done more than most to promote women in the male-dominated beer world. Since founding Wild Card Brewery in Walthamstow in 2012, Wise has been named brewer of the year twice, campaigned on a number of issues within the beer industry, including sexism, race and disabilities, and played an active role in the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. Alongside her brewing she expertly presents the BBC Food Programme, with fascinating and insightful recent shows on Brexit and Food, the Wild West of Whisky and issues within the bartending industry.
Founder & creative director, 7 FIFTY
Brough founded 7 FIFTY during the pandemic, inspired by her passion to celebrate hospitality and showcase the personalities behind the scenes. Brough’s quest is to provide an honest portrayal of the industry, and she has filmed content for the likes of Tom Kerridge, Paul Ainsworth and Sally Abé. “We know the industry and we help engage an audience in a hope to change the perception of the industry,” says Brough. Additionally, alongside Claire Bosi, Brough runs the #ChooseHospitality campaign aimed at promoting hospitality as a career choice.
After years working as an architect in London and Hong Kong, Yu returned to Jersey, where she’d grown up around her parents’ Cantonese takeaway, to open Awabi with her brother, Stephen. Yu designed the restaurant herself, and serves modern Asian fusion with local ingredients. Awabi has been described as a “Japanese izakaya, Parisian wine bar, Korean soju tent and British gastropub all rolled into one,” and has reinvigorated the island’s dining scene. “It’s where all the chefs in Jersey want to eat,” says a nominator.
Building networks and sharing connections for the benefit of the hospitality community
Connector of the Year
Founder, Curious Vines
Wong harnesses her 15 years of experience in the wine world to help promote women in wine, especially fine wine, which is still something of a boys’ club. An outspoken champion of women, her Curious Vines platform offers a safe space for a diverse community to connect and learn. “She encourages and supports women of all ages and challenges stuffy conventions and sexism,” says one nominator. “She’s strong, brave and an intelligent voice who’s passionate about wine and women in hospitality. She’s supporting the future of the industry and creating connections and opportunities for all those who have to work 10 times harder than men.” Wong also provides sponsorship for the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier programmes for female education.
Editor & co-owner, The Cocktail Lovers
Lawrence has risen to become one of the most influential people in the drinks world since founding The Cocktail Lovers with her husband, Gary Sharpen, over a decade ago. Starting life as a blog, it is now a multi award-winning print publication, website and podcast. Lawrence is a leading global drinks authority and alongside judging competitions and appearing on panel discussions, she mentors for Equal Measures, which supports marginalised groups and individuals in the drinks industry.
Founder, Rasa Sayang & Chew-on-This Portfolio
When Chew arrived in London in 2007 she quickly noticed a gap in the market, with few restaurants representing Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine. Since founding Rasa Sayang in London’s Chinatown in 2008, Chew has gone from strength to strength, forming the ever-expanding Chew-On-This restaurant group, which now operates multiple sites across the country, including Shan Shui at Heathrow Airport, several branches of Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen and Arôme bakery in London. Chew is a passionate advocate for the dynamic, exciting and nuanced cuisines of Southeast Asia.
Raissa & Joyce de Haas
Co-founders, Double Dutch
The de Haas twins have shaken up the spirit mixer industry since launching Double Dutch in 2015, earning a Foodpreneur Award from Richard Branson in the same year. Double Dutch doesn’t simply produce top quality drinks with a focus on sustainability. Raissa and Joyce are on a mission to tackle under-representation in the industry, funding a Female Bartender Scholarship Programme launched for the third year in a row on International Women’s Day. The Scholarship aims to empower and unite aspiring female bartenders. “Being young and female, people didn’t take us seriously at first,” Raissa has said. “But winning industry awards and endorsements has really helped. The drinks industry is still male dominated, but things are getting better.”
Former journalist Frost runs the stellar wine offering at Gosforth wine bar Ophelia, having previously taken the helm at Michelin-starred Hjem in Northumberland, two of the North East’s standout establishments. Russian-born and “mostly self-taught”, Frost focuses on sustainable wines and takes a keen interest in cultural and social issues, leading to one nominator describing her as “a very special front of house” who is a “totally unique individual.”
Editor, Chef Publishing Ltd
As editor of one of the country’s highest quality hospitality-focused magazines, Bosi plays a significant role in raising the profile of Britain’s chefs. The magazine has long backed up-and-coming talent, taking part in the #ChooseHospitality campaign which aims to promote careers in hospitality, and Bosi has consistently campaigned for the industry to gain a voice in parliament.
Cong Cong Bo
Named one of Harper’s Top 25 UK sommeliers in 2022, Bo has quickly risen to become one of the country’s most important wine figures. Her Cambridge wine bar and merchant is firmly rooted in the community – Bo is noted for remembering key details about customer’s tastes and preferences – and she aims to make wine more accessible and appealing via weekly tastings and an astonishing range of affordable wines by the glass.
Owner & co-founder, Ballintaggart
Rowley co-founded Ballintaggart in the Scottish Highlands in 2016, turning it into a glorious destination for food lovers with a hotel, cookery school, shop and award-winning restaurant set in a stunning location. A natural communicator and collaborator, she nurtures strong relationships with local suppliers and promotes the best Scottish producers. “She especially champions the outstanding Scottish natural larder,” says one nominator, and the restaurant has been recognised by AA and Michelin. Rowley has helped build, train and support a young, talented team to create one of Scotland’s best hospitality experiences.
Food & wine writer
With a longstanding column at the Guardian, regular contributions to a wide range of newspapers and magazines and more than 20 books to her name, Beckett is one of Britain’s foremost food and wine experts and former Guild of Food Writers Food Journalist of the Year. She continues to make wine fun and accessible through her Matching Food and Wine website and Eat This Drink That Substack. “Who hasn’t referred to Fiona’s books or website before a big dinner party”, asks Joe Fattorini.
Founder, Sixty Eight People
Sixty Eight People aims to create a hospitality network that makes the industry better for the people working in it. A tireless campaigner, Dunn, who in 2020 spearheaded the No More No Shows campaign during the first reopening of restaurants during the pandemic, aims to improve industry practices. The Northern Lot, created by Dunn, is a platform for like-minded northern hospitality folk, and in 2022 Dunn ran several events tackling engagement, diversity, inclusion, retention and recruitment; Class of 68 aims to train hospitality workers with necessary skills. Dunn has made it her mission to better the hospitality industry, and has just launched Sixty Eight People in London, too.
Lucy Noone Blake
Co-founder, Pear Communications
Manchester’s hospitality scene has been booming of late and a leading figure is Noone Blake, who has played a vital role in successfully introducing many national restaurants to the city, from Hawksmoor to Soho House. Along with India Morris, Noone Blake also runs Pear, a multi-disciplinary collective of Manchester-based freelancers, and mentors many up-and-coming talents. If there’s someone you need to know in the Northern hospitality scene, it’s Noone Blake. Manchester’s future seems safe in her hands.
HR Director, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
A career spent in hospitality has seen Powell work with Hilton, IHG and Soho House before joining the Belmond team at Le Manoir. With a deep passion for hospitality and people, Powell spent the past year building up a network of 30 hospitality workers from across the industry who meet every two months to share ideas, and Powell continues to mentor many in the field. “I truly believe that without people our hotels are bricks and mortar, and have spent my career supporting my team in every way possible, both in work and out,” says Powell, who mentors for Birmingham City University City, where she was named outstanding contributor in 2022, and Otolo, which aims to champion and uplift the best in the industry.
Group director of communications, Maybourne Hotel Group
Running a hotel group of Maybourne’s clout, with historic establishments like Claridge’s, The Berkeley and The Connaught on its books is no mean feat. Neither is keeping them relevant in the modern age. Fitzherbert is a driving force at Maybourne, and a key reason why those iconic places are still beloved. Having spent two decades at the business, Fitzherbert runs dynamic and creative projects across the hotels and restaurants, overseeing a number of new projects both home and abroad. Having started her career working with Alan Coren at Punch Magazine, Fitzherbert has long been a standard bearer for women in the industry and is a true legend in the game.
Sales director, Act-Clean
Act-Clean is London’s foremost hospitality cleaning service with clients from The Ned to Michelin-starred Kol relying on its exceptional cleaning standards and supporting its decision to pay staff above the London Living Wage. Groves goes above and beyond, running a series of networking events and supportive initiatives like Hospitality Action and St Julian’s Scholars. “Making genuine connections rather than merely networking is both her modus operandi and her primary sales and marketing technique,” says one nominator.
Gill, a pastry chef, cookbook writer, recipe columnist and Junior Bake Off judge, founded Countertalk in 2018. Initially an Instagram page promoting positive work environments, it has evolved into a community bringing hospitality professionals together to promote best practices and improve skills. “Countertalk is a fantastic and much-needed platform,” says Rebecca McGauley-Dyke, general manager of the St John Group. “I created Countertalk because I was fed up of working in broken kitchen environments,” Gill told Great British Chefs. “I knew there were good kitchens out there, and I wanted to create a platform that highlighted them, and helped people find their way into healthy, happy workplaces.”
Director of Brand, Marketing and Communications, JKS Restaurants
JKS has gone from strength to strength since the pandemic, with the launches of Bibi, Plaza Khao Gaeng, Arcade Food Hall and Speedboat Bar, and Irving has been fundamental to the success of these businesses. A true champion of women in the industry, she acts as an unofficial mentor to dozens of women in her team. At JKS, where she has worked for two years, she has “helped her team to reach new levels of professionalism and raise their ambition,” says one nominator. A creative, enthusiastic, engaging and motivating leader, Irving is an inspiration for women in hospitality and business in general.
Founder & CEO, Be Inclusive Hospitality
In 2020 Copes founded Be Inclusive Hospitality with the aim of accelerating race equity within the sector. Drawing on two decades of experience (including working on the executive leadership teams at Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, Wolseley Hospitality Group and Shake Shack) over the past year Be Inclusive Hospitality has provided mentorship for 45 people of colour in hospitality, 33 scholarships to support education and professional development, and partnered with UberEats and Enterprise Nation to deliver the Black Business fund. She was named CODE Hospitality’s Most Influential Entrepreneur in 2022.
A source of advice and inspiration; creating opportunities for others to succeed
Leader of the Year
Founder & CEO, mymuybueno
Founded in 2011, mymuybueno has risen to become the largest private chef agency in the world, receiving endorsements from some of Britain’s top chefs, including Tom Aikens and Adam Handling, who described her as “probably one of the most driven people I’ve ever met. She’s a cup-half-full kind of person and her positivity is infectious. A true inspiration.” Murphy has built long-lasting relationships with clients and chefs across the world, turning mymuybueno into an internationally respected brand. She will soon launch mymuybueno’s Academy of Culinary Arts, an online platform aimed at helping chefs along their career paths and providing them with the skills to succeed. Her Chefs Get Personal podcast brings in respected guests like Gareth Ward and Tom Booton who share insights and skills about the hospitality sector, showcasing how Murphy is constantly looking at ways to improve the industry she loves.
Restaurant owner & cookbook author, Rambutan
Shanmugalingam’s quest to shine a light on the diverse cuisines of Sri Lanka saw the release of her brilliant debut cookbook, Rambutan, in 2022. Recently she opened her restaurant of the same name in Borough Market, one of the year’s most exciting launches. Shanmugalingam is “incredibly creative, always has 100 things on at a time, and is always considerate of including underrepresented folks and does the most to seek out unseen talent,” says one nominator. In an industry still often dominated by men, “other leaders should look to her in how to bring new voices to the conversation.”
Managing director, BarrafinaGroup
The Harts Group’s continued success wouldn’t be possible without Watkins, who has been involved in the company since 2003. Drawing on her background in media and tech at companies like M&C Saatchi and Verizon Media UK, she galvanised the teams at Barrafina, Parrillan and Bar Daskal ahead of an ambitious triple launch last year. Watkins organises inspiring staff trips to Spain, where she grew up, and has been instrumental in Harts Group’s sponsorship of visas for foreign workers at a time when staffing in hospitality is going through a very difficult time.
Operations director, Goodman Restaurants
Starting as general manager over a decade ago, Butland has risen at Goodman Restaurants into operations director at the five-strong restaurant group. Commitment to staff is one of Butland’s priorities, with head roles at the business promoted from within. Butland was behind company-wide pay rises to combat the cost of living crisis and she continues to champion wellbeing and education. “She is so committed to her people and gives opportunities, especially to women who are general managers, head sommeliers and bar managers,” says one nominator, who thanked her for her “guidance and generosity”.
Director, Cubitt House & Country Creatures
Pearman has worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years, dedicating herself to restaurant design across the Cubitt House group in both London and the countryside. The Double Red Duke in the Cotswolds reopened to rapturous reviews in 2020. Pearman has long been instrumental in adding successful new businesses to the portfolio, including last year’s hit launch The Princess Royal in Notting Hill. “Over the years she has left a definite mark in design, whether in the countryside or in London,” says a nominator. “She inspires others by her dedication and kindness.”
People director, Blacklock
Schwartz joined Blacklock with a wealth of experience in the industry, having played a vital role in Nando’s coming first in The Sunday Times’ Top 100 Best Big Companies to Work For in 2010. At Blacklock, Schwartz is helping support the recruitment of key roles into the business and defining the company’s values. The company’s underlying principle is to put people first, focusing on personal development, listening to staff feedback when there are concerns and increasing its benefits packages in 2022. A survey last year saw 97% of staff recommend Blacklock as a place to work, so it’s no surprise the company’s retention levels are strong – thanks in no small part to Schwartz.
Swiss-born Staeubli joined Ottolenghi a year after its foundation, and has quietly risen to become one of the most important cogs in the company, which now boasts five delis, two restaurants, a development kitchen, catering services and an online retail offering. Yotam Ottolenghi credits Staeubli with the company’s strong staff retention, and she strives to take the group forward by establishing a new apprenticeship scheme. “Cornelia is the guide and the mainstay of Ottolenghi,” says a nominator. “She stands out because she nurtures and mentors her teams, she encourages her teams to be themselves, work together and generally wants the best for them.”
Chief People Officer, Harts Group
Arriving at the Harts Group in 2016, Johnson played a vital role in keeping the business running during the pandemic as one of just two staff members who worked throughout. She tirelessly ensured operations ran smoothly and is frequently cited as crucial in keeping the team happy. “Lisa wants to ensure that everyone that joins Harts Group learns something, it doesn’t matter if they are working for us for one, six or 12 months,” says a colleague. Johnson is instrumental in recruiting for the new restaurants and has helped drastically reduce Harts’ vacancy rate. She champions in-house learning and works alongside schools to show that hospitality is a viable career path.
Head of operations, Blacklock
You don’t become one of the most popular spots for Sunday lunch in London by chance. Gordon Ker’s Blacklock has always put a strong emphasis on its people and McCann is a great example of this. With a wealth of experience in both smaller and larger hospitality groups, she has had a “hugely positive impact” at Blacklock, boosting morale among staff and taking a lead role in the opening of the upcoming Canary Wharf site, the brand’s biggest yet. “Openings can be very stressful, but with a great team they are fantastic fun,” says McCann. She has also worked closely with Action Against Hunger for eight years, helping raise £250,00, has close connections to Only A Pavement Away, and is a strong supporter of mothers working in hospitality.
Co-owner, Hide and Fox
Bussi is making waves in her corner of Kent with a standout wine list influenced by years working at top restaurants as a sommelier and manager. Bussi, who grew up in a small wine-making village in Liguria, runs a team of largely local staff, training them to a high level. Hide and Fox has gone on to earn an ‘Exceptional’ rating in The Good Food Guide and has become one of Kent’s best dining destinations, thanks in no part to its “truly standout” wine list.
Executive chef, The Angel Restaurant
Dartmouth’s fine-dining spot, The Angel, has won a multitude of accolades since Wentworth joined in 2018. Executive chef since last December, she champions local ingredients and sustainability, works tirelessly to provide a sublime dining experience, yet always finds the time to put her staff first. “Her energetic and infectious personality, along with her commitment to continued staff development mean she is much loved as a leader by her loyal and talented team.” Multiple TV appearances, including MasterChef the Professionals and Great British Menu, as well as winning Chef of the Year with Food Drink Devon 2022/23 mean Wentworth is truly one to watch.
Chef owner, Chishuru
It’s rare to find a true pioneer in any field, but Bakaré is certainly one. The Nigerian-born chef had a longstanding dream of opening a restaurant but until 2020 that dream was far from coming true. “I wasn’t in the industry, had never cooked in a professional kitchen, and I didn’t have the large sum needed to open nor the knowledge required to run it,” says Bakare. “It felt daunting.” That year she won a competition to hold a three-month popup in Brixton Village, which quickly became permanent. Bakare’s food, inspired by Nigeria and West Africa, has wowed many a customer and critic, earning countless awards. Chishuru has been named in several best restaurant lists, including being named best restaurant by Time Out in 2022 and coming 93rd in the National Restaurant Awards in the same year. Bakare has run successful pop-ups at Quality Wines, Quo Vadis and Carousel, and in 2023 is moving to a bigger site in central London near Oxford Circus.
Executive Director, Adam Handling Restaurant Group
In just six years at the Adam Handling Restaurant Group, Gartenberg has risen to overseeing a team of 180 people. She was instrumental in building an HR programme, establishing apprenticeship schemes and extending hospitality opportunities via a two-pronged approach: firstly promoting and developing those already within the restaurant group, for example by funding a WSET Level 2 course; secondly, providing a path for young people into hospitality, via partnerships with local colleges. In 2020, Gartenberg was listed in CODE’s 30 under 30. Her passion for the business’s success means she “undoubtedly goes above and beyond her job description, involving herself in every aspect of the company and motivating the rest of the team whilst doing so.”
Director, The Goods Shed
Sait started out with Tea & Times, a coffee shop in Whitstable that was pioneering back in its day. In a then quiet town with a strong sense of community, she opened the cafe, which doubled up as a newsagents and wine bar and played a significant role in Whitstable becoming the foodie heaven it is today. Sait has gone on to run one of Kent’s most respected gastronomic centres. Spotting a derelict goods shed next to Canterbury West train station, Sait turned it into a large indoor farmers’ market and restaurant, helping connect the city to the finest local produce. In 2021, it was named one of the UK’s “50 most fabulous independent shops” by The Observer, a thoroughly deserved accolade. Sait has now turned her hand to farming, too.
Founder, Speakeasy Entertainment
Stimpson has created some of London’s best-loved bars, including Nightjar, Oriole and Swift, mainstays at the World’s 50 Best Bars awards. Stimpson runs a leadership group that is over 70% female and is seen as an “exemplary leader and mentor” by her team, having guided dozens of employees into successful hospitality careers in her 12 years at Speakeasy Entertainment. With over 800 nights of live music and performance, she is helping reinvigorate London’s live jazz scene, too.
General manager, Coworth Park Hotel
Opened over a decade ago with Jenkins at the helm, Coworth Park Hotel is the Dorchester Collection’s only country house hotel. Jenkins is described as the venue’s “heartbeat”, drawing on her 40 years’ experience in the industry to lead the team with passion, verve and determination. According to a nominator, she supports, nurtures and mentors those at every level with a smile on her face. “There have been significant challenges across the past few years she has led, directed and helped navigate choppy waters still with a smile on her face. Happy team, happy guests.”
Global marketing director, Rhubarb
Harel is a true unsung hero in her role. Having been at Rhubarb for nearly a decade, she is now part of the management team leading marketing and communications, along with supporting the international hospitality operator with new business overseeing sites in London, New York and Berlin. Harel has previously worked in Hong Kong and prior to that at The Lanesborough and The Dorchester in London, always advocating for fellow women in hospitality.
Manchester’s natural wine scene is blossoming thanks in no small part to the singular Dubois. Originally from Quebec, Dubois aims to make wine accessible to customers while focusing on ethical, high quality and diverse wines. Dubois runs a small natural wine fair and is working hard to train the next generation of wine-loving hospitality staff.
Consultant chef, Conrad London St James
Abé has risen to become one of Britain’s most respected chefs, working in a host of top establishments and appearing on Great British Menu. She has always been a champion of women in hospitality, whether in the kitchen or front-of-house. Her International Women’s Day events bring together and empower women from across the industry, and she has raised money for #CookforIRAN, Action Against Hunger and the Apne Aap Women’s Collective. “Women have been given a bit more of a platform in recent years, but there’s still a lot to do,” Abé told BigHospitality this year. “We must keep fighting and calling stuff out.”
London restaurant director, Hawksmoor
In a decade at Hawksmoor Richards has held many roles, rising from Assistant General Manager to General Manager at Spitalfields and then Air Street. Richards helped open the Manchester, Edinburgh and New York restaurants, and became a director of the group. She is passionate about creating opportunities within the restaurant and ensuring a positive working culture. Richards is a “leader that embodies all that is best about hospitality.” The Manchester site has gone on to win awards at the MFDA for Best Restaurant and Best FOH.
Co-founder, Common & Co
Heyes co-founded Common & Co in 2010, and the hospitality group, which runs bars and pubs in Manchester, has gone from strength to strength. One of few female founders in the bar world, she works tirelessly to create a safe, happy and comfortable working environment, and has quietly become a hospitality leader in the North West.
Co-founder & pastry chef, Sollip
When Sollip won a Michelin star in 2022, just two years after opening, it was testament to the hard work and ingenuity Ki has put in alongside her husband and co-founder, Woongchul Park, whom she met at Le Cordon Bleu in London. The boundary-breaking restaurant blends European and Korean techniques and ingredients, and has become the first Korean-influenced restaurant in the UK to earn a star. According to Park, Ki’s perfectionism is behind their meteoric rise. “I believe in her 100% as a pastry chef and so there’s nothing really to argue about in the kitchen,” he says.
Stevenson founded consultancy firm JetVine in 2020 after more than 20 years working for British Airways, where she managed the wine and beverage operation. Holding a diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and membership of the Cicerone beer programme, Stevenson has an extensive knowledge of beer and wine and now advises global airlines, cruise and rail operators – an overlooked yet crucial sector of hospitality – on their drinks offerings.