Hospitality’s Powerhouses 

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March, we turn to six exceptional females in the industry who share their stories of success, as well as some encouraging words for fellow women in hospitality. 

When it comes to the hospitality industry, female professionals are setting the bar high, bringing an abundance of skill, innovation, passion and heart to the sector. From entrepreneurs and business owners, to bartenders, chefs and brand ambassadors, women in hospitality are showcasing their talents within a plethora of roles – and we want to champion them!

Claudia Carrozzi, First Female President of UK Bartenders Guild, noticed her love for hospitality at a young age, and tells us, “When I was a child, I loved to play bartender and serve imaginary drinks to my family during mealtime. Later, at the age of 15, I began working in a bar during the summer season and, for the next five years, I studied and worked at high-end venues during summer, weekends and bank holidays.”

Fast-forward – after moving to the UK to pursue a career in bartending – Claudia landed a role at Cunard as a Beverage Specialist, where she set up a bartending training course and career path for her fleet, mentoring them to success. She told us, “Here, I developed many of the existing bar concepts and, subsequently, became the fleet Beverage Development Manager and elected UKBG President. I am proud to be a bartender, having travelled the world and being able to give back to the trade via the UKBG. I am always looking for further professional training, as I’ve learned that there is always room for improvement, and we can never be perfect.”

Navigating an oftentimes male-dominated industry, Claudia’s determination and hard work have prevailed, showcasing her innate passion for the industry and her craft. She said, “I have consistently been part of male-dominated teams and have been trained and mentored mainly by men. I vividly recall my first hotel bar interview at a five-star hotel when I was just 16. The Bar Manager told me that the job was best-suited for men as it was hard work, and asked if I was sure about wanting the job. However, I confidently asserted my abilities and convinced him to give me a chance. Today, we are still in touch, and I am grateful to him for breaking the trend and recognising my potential!”

Claudia has her fellow female friends and colleagues to thank for a large part of her growth and success in the industry, stating that, “Over the years, my female colleagues have played a pivotal role in my professional growth. We have always supported, helped and empowered each other. I am proud of our resilience and determination to succeed, and I know that we will continue to inspire and uplift each other, as we shatter stereotypes and pave the way for the next generation of women in the workplace.” 

Commenting on the women who inspire her the most, Claudia mentions her mother, who sparked her curiosity for hospitality, the Double Dutch sister-duo, and the Trailblazers community. “I grew up in a family where my father used to distil grappa from the wine produced at home, while my mother would infuse spirits and make liqueurs. Despite never drinking any of the liqueurs she made, my mother loved the craft, and her passion for it sparked my curiosity. I also draw inspiration from the Double Dutch team, the Trailblazers community and their training program, which I have proudly mentored since its implementation year,” she explained.

Female support and encouragement are things that Lara Norman Arquero, world-class Private Chef, The Burnt Chef Project Ambassador and contestant of Netflix’s ‘Five Star Chef’, has always valued during her career in hospitality, owing much of her success to the female network that surrounds her.

Speaking on the female figures that have been sources of inspiration and strength, Lara explains, “I must begin with my mother. Her unwavering determination and power to turn the impossible into reality have not only guided my life, but also shaped my career. Her strength, love and resilience have profoundly influenced my very being.

“As a chef, I can attest to the invaluable support and inspiration provided by my fellow female friends and colleagues in the culinary world. They have been a source of encouragement and willpower, contributing to my growth in the kitchen. Whether through collaboration or support, their camaraderie has fostered a supportive and empowering environment,” Lara adds.

Over the years, Lara has worked alongside esteemed culinary virtuosos in renowned venues, such as: The Ritz London; HIDE Restaurant, curated by Ollie Dabbous, and the Two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Claude Bosi at Bibendum. She now stands as Founder of Euphoria, a bespoke events and catering company. 

“Through Euphoria, I’ve combined gastronomy and my love for theatre and performance, collaborating with exceptional talents to create immersive dining experiences that defy convention,” Lara explains.

A true testament of hard-work and dedication, Lara’s success can be pinned down to her roaring passion for her craft and her positive outlook, as well as her strong and supportive network of like-minded colleagues and friends. 

Offering some words of advice for aspiring women in the industry, Lara urges, “Stay passionate about your craft, continuously fuelling the fire within, and always be open to learning and experimenting. It’s crucial to never underestimate the power of networking. Embracing challenges is also key; we must do what scares us, confront our insecurities, and break those barriers.”

Most importantly, she explains the importance of inclusivity and mutual support in the industry, as she says, “All genders should unite as one, supporting and learning from each other, recognising that we all possess unique strengths and ‘super powers’. It’s imperative that we strive to create an inclusive and diverse culinary environment, sharing the love we all have for our craft.”

We were lucky enough to sit down with Double Dutch Founders, Raissa de Haas and her twin sister, Joyce, who too share some words in honour of International Women’s Day. 

Sharing the story of the birth of Double Dutch, the multi award-winning premium tonic and mixer brand, Joyce tells us, “Our career in the industry began when we were both studying for a MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship at UCL. We devoted our joint dissertation to finding a solution for our frustrations within the drinks industry, with a focus on creating high-quality mixers with unexpected flavour pairings, that didn’t compromise on overall sugar content and calorie count.”

The sister-duo have achieved huge success within the drinks space so far, with a portfolio of 12 drinks stocked in some of the best bars all across the world, and have made it their mission to give-back to fellow females in the industry with their annual Female Bartending Scholarship. 

Commenting on the role of fellow female professionals in their success, Joyce explains, “There are so many amazing fellow female founders, and nurturing a network with all of them has been so valuable. The drinks industry is booming with many great women and we’re lucky to be working with, and alongside, trailblazers such as the likes of Tina Warner-Keogh of Warner’s Gin, Ellie Webb of non-alcoholic drink Caleño, and so many more!”

As successful and influential women in the industry, the two highlight the value of a supportive female network. For aspiring trailblazers and innovators, Raissa advises,“Make sure you have a strong support network of fantastic women around you that you can trust. And don’t be afraid to knock down those doors – even if you don’t have the prior experience or the contacts – go out and get the opportunities you deserve. We launched Double Dutch, despite having no prior experience within the beverage industry, and without a network, and now we’re stocked in more than 45 countries.” 

Chef Romy Gill MBE, Celebrity Indian chef, Food & Travel Writer, Broadcaster, and Owner and Head Chef at Romy’s Kitchen, agrees on the importance of women supporting each other within the industry, commenting “When women are able to, then we should help others.

“Yes, we all have to work hard in this industry, but it is the most welcoming sector; with passion and dedication, you can start from the bottom and reach the top,” Romy adds.

Romy’s career overflows with accolades and achievements and, for these, she thanks her strong support network who have played a vital role. She told us, “There are many female and male colleagues who played a huge part in my success in the hospitality industry. My parents, husband and daughters have played a huge part; without them I wouldn’t have achieved what I have today. Chef Gill – my mentor, Madhu Jaffery, Sheila Dillon, Clare Mcgin, Lisa Markwell, Hugh Smithson Wright and many more! I also admire Chef VIkas Khanna, an exceptional chef who uplifts women and men all the time.”

To finish, Tea Colaianni, Founder and Chair of WiHTL, highlights the power of knowledge, and the importance of building a collaborative network of powerful women, as she comments “We have a plethora of amazing women leaders in the hospitality industry now – fantastic role models to learn from, and therein lies the key. Building knowledge (theoretical and practical) builds confidence, and first-hand knowledge from women who have reached the top is some of the most valuable knowledge of all. Don’t hold back in asking for advice from others, build and expand your network, push yourself – if somebody turns you down, it is their loss!”

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