Female Voices in The Craft Guild of Chefs

At Women In The Food Industry we are delighted to partner with The Craft Guild of Chefs. Established in 1965 as a Guild of the Cookery and Food Association, the Craft Guild of Chefs has developed into the leading Chefs’ Association in the UK and has many members worldwide. Look out for some exciting offers for our members and also news from the Guild’s annual National Chef of the Year Awards.  We spoke to three female members of the Guild about their experience, how the industry has been for female chefs / managers and what piece of wisdom they would give to their younger self right now.

Alison Cullin-Woodcock

Alison Cullin-Woodcock – CFSP -Director Membership Benefits & Promotions

I have worked in this amazing industry, all over the world, the importance of trust in your team supporting you and each other is paramount. Over the years, I have often been the only girl in the kitchen – and despite leading a chefs team of fifty across the globe, I still had people come and visit me who came in and asked for The Corporate Executive Chef – and that was my job!

Bocuse D’Or competition at Culinary Institute of America, with my team and a few other fabulous world-famous chefs!

So if I was talking to myself 30 years ago, I’d say don’t ever say no to a new challenge, but recognise that it’s OK to not be able to “put your big girl pants” on today, and always ask for help before you get in the weeds – always.

Being part of the Guild for many years has allowed me to realise that really we’re just cooking to feed the soul every day – no matter what you do, if you cook – you’ll make somebody smile.

Amber Francis – Culinary Lecturer & Youth Ambassador for The Craft Guild of Chefs

My name is Amber Francis and I am 24 and the senior sous chef at The Dairy in Clapham. I am a youth ambassador for the Craft Guild of Chefs and a keen advocate for better mental health awareness in the hospitality industry.

I trained with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts at The Ritz and Bournemouth College. Having completed competitions such as the Graduate Awards and Young National Chef of the Year I have also had the opportunity to compete internationally in the Hans Beuschkens Junior World Chef Competition. I am a trained Mental Health First Aider and a Mental Health Champion for Kelly’s Cause, an industry focused charity that provides mental health training. I am also a culinary lecturer working with adult learning colleges, community projects and primary schools, sharing my passion for cooking and helping others improve their skills and confidence.

Maria Drury – Senior Credit controller & Community Trainer & Craft Guild of Chefs National Secretary

I have worked within the hospitality industry for nearly 40 years having started in the kitchens at the Londonderry Hotel Park Lane (which unfortunately is no longer there) where I was the only female in the kitchen and felt I constantly had to prove myself. I have been assistant manager in a Turkish restaurant (which was not bad on two counts the first being that I was female and the second being Greek).  I worked within contract catering and most recently I have worked within the community teaching on various community food projects. Where I was able to share my knowledge and encourage others to look differently at food and its impact on our daily life.

As for the Guild it has been part of my life even before I started work, having been encouraged to enter a guild competition and being given a free year’s membership as part of my prize. Since then I have been chairperson of London division three times and had a number of posts at national committee level.

I continue to be involved with various competitions where I get to work with wonderful people in our industry and help support young people to achieve their potential.

What would I tell my younger self? I would say go for it don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something because unless you try you don’t know.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest news on our partners and our paid up members can look out for an exciting offer on joining The Craft Guild of Chefs.

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