Restaurants Brighton guide to
Women in hospitality
International Women’s Day
On Wednesday 8th March women from all walks of life come together to celebrate International Women’s Day. A day to reflect and rejoice in the progression of their human rights. But also to celebrate the achievements of all the mothers, sisters and daughters in our community.
The women behind our thriving hospitality sector are making waves in the industry. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we have interviewed some of Brighton’s most ambitious and inspirational women. They recount the drives, highs and the challenges of their careers and offer words of encouragement to women that wish to embark on careers in the industry.
So, without further ado let’s hear it for the culinary queens and honourable hostesses of Brighton’s booming hospitality sector.
“Be yourself and be strong even when you don’t feel it. You can do anything.”
With her keen nose, and ‘can do attitude’, Cassie Gould is making a great success of running Butlers Wine Cellar. Having seen her family and her business through some very hard times, Cassie always chooses to prioritise what’s important to her over pure economic reward. And though she might lament the lack of time off, the pleasure she gets from managing a great team and a thriving business makes it all worth it.
Making her debut as a kitchen porter in a fresh-faced 14-year-old, Nicky then went on to a fast-paced career in the event industry. Luckily for us, she has now slid back into hospitality with grace and taken on the deliciously nostalgic Brighton Regency Routemaster. You’ll find her on board the beautiful vintage bus, greeting passengers and serving their sumptuous afternoon teas to the soundtrack of retro rock ‘n’ roll. Hard work, focus and drive are among the qualities that have propelled Nicky to where she is now.
“Seek out those people that inspire you. Outdated attitudes still exist but there are plenty of female chefs out there doing great things.”
“Not all employers are the same – find your tribe and you will do just fine.”
Tamara Roberts has been CEO of her family’s award winning wine estate for the past 10 years. Merging legal and financial acumen with intense loyalty and passion for the business, Ridgeview has gone from strength to strength under her stewardship. With total commitment to making exquisite, sustainable English sparkling wine, Ridgeview won the IWSC International Winemaker of the year in 2018, the first time this award has ever been won by an English producer and, in the same year, Tamara Roberts won Sussex Business Person of the year. A case study of what can happen when a great product meets a great leader who is supported by a great team.
“It has been an amazing, terrifying, incredible, and magical journey so far.”
Hailing from the sunny climbs of Malta, Luciana Cousin has travelled the world looking for a place where she could make her dreams come true. Settling on Brighton, Luciana and her son opened Across Rainbows C.I.C. which works to give voice to the Queer community. Luciana sees her recent venture, a family-owned LGBTQ+ destination bar/café/restaurant called Arcobaleno, as the manifestation of her values. This is evident in the process by which she recruits and develops the team. With their delicious food, Southern European attitude, lively events and culture of inclusivity, Luciana has brought a venue replete with lovely character to Kemptown Brighton.
“Never stop learning, stay curious and don’t lose your passion.”
Starfish and Coffee is one the very best places to get brunch in Brighton, and no wonder with their dynamic and vastly experienced head chef – Laura Karall – at the helm. Having trained in fine dining at notable establishments around Europe, Laura mastered all the techniques necessary for her to conceive and prepare exciting, innovative menus for the monthly super club she now runs with her friend, Mattia D’Aurea. Currently one of the most exciting events on the Brighton foodie calendar, the L&M Supper Club is the perfect outlet for Laura’s boundless passion for food and culinary creativity.
“I aspire to have my business reflect who I am as a person…Surrounding yourself with like-minded people allows you to operate and thrive in hospitality and create a business you can be proud of. Be yourself, it is so important.”
Natalie Demetriou opened Lost in the Lanes Café Bar in 2017 after spending more than a decade in New Zealand working as a speech and language therapist. Her first hospitality venture, she was determined that LOST would reflect her personal values and be a warm and supportive environment in which to work. Now LOST is one of Brighton’s liveliest cafes, attracting loyalty from both customers and staff, and serving absolutely gorgeous food.
Amanda Jane Powley
“Trust your gut instincts. I’ve often been told I can’t do something, and it’s made me stick to my guns even more, and do it!”
Amanda Powley grew up in a family where food and hospitality were centre stage. Uninspired at school, she started working as a pot washer when she was very young and worked her way up from the bottom. Surviving the brutality, unsociable hours and bullying meted out to some young chefs, she maintained her passion for cooking. She became a vegetarian – then rare vegetarian chef – and eventually opened Terre à Terre with business partner Phil Taylor. Amanda is now one of the most influential people in Brighton hospitality and Terre à Terre continues to be an unmitigated success. The rest, as they say, is history…
Stella Gurney worked in a glamorous London publishing office – as a writer and editor – for more than 15 years before life took an unexpected turn. Inspired by visits to Italy’s beautiful agriturismos (farm stays), she and her husband Griff, decided to abandon the big smoke and open the UK’s first gastro-campsite in the stunning Sussex countryside. Their dream was to have a sustainable business where people could kick back and enjoy the great outdoors. Providing great food cooked over fire was part of the plan. Now Stella hosts with considerable charm and Griff whips up amazing meals on a huge firepit on site. They also organise sell-out alfresco supper clubs where top chefs showcase their open-fire prowess.
“Be passionate. Be confident. Be generous. Start shopping for comfortable shoes.“
A lifelong passion for food led to Sarah Cotton’s crowning as Brighton’s queen of houmous. Director of Smorl’s Houmous and Falafel Bar in Brighton’s open market, Sarah started with little more than a head full of dreams, the will to graft hard and her family behind her. Sarah transitioned from home cook to market stall holder and then opened the much-loved Smorl’s in 2014. Last year Smorls won the BRAVO for the Eat Well for Less Category with their delicious, sustainable, nutritious food.
“Let your motivation and determination shine every day. If you want it go out and get it!“
Following a successful first career in the beauty industry, Nicky Stephens, general manager of The Little Fish Market in Hove, was reeled into the world of hospitality by the infectious passion of her partner, the acclaimed chef Duncan Ray. Now she’s in hook, line and sinker. And though she is responsible for the business of running the restaurant, she loves nothing more than being on the floor and making sure that customers have a night to remember. Her understanding that great hospitality is so much more than simply great food has helped to put Little Fish Market on the map as one of Brighton’s Best Restaurants.
“Do your research and don’t be scared to ask for help”
Dianna is the co-owner of Kemptown Project, a local company that owns three of Brighton’s most popular eateries, Redroaster cafe (by day) Lucky Khao restaurant (by night) and seafront based Lucky Beach. They also import, roast, pack and sell organic coffee from single origin small farms. And are the only producers of 100% carbon neutral coffee. They work directly with coffee farmers, paying a real wage and developing and supporting their communities.
Kemptown Project as a company are commitment to sustainable working practices. They have been awarded a three star sustainability rating by The Sustainable Restaurant Association. Lucky Beach came top three in the 2020 BRAVOs for most Sustainable Eats and all three of the eateries have a string of top 20 listings for best international cuisine, best bunch, cafe and best cocktail.
“Work hard, find that great company and you will fly”
Daisy is the perfect example of someone who has worked hard and climbed the ladder to a senior position in hospitality. The passionate and motivated Brightonian was raised in pubs by her landlord and lady parents. Daisy is now head of sales and reservations at Ohso Social, The Dorset and is responsible for The Trading Post and its five Sussex based cafes. She speculates that it may be that the drive needed to succeed in the hospitality industry is simply ‘in her blood’.
“Be kind, be yourself and work hard. Don’t be afraid to take a risk or step out of your comfort zone. Community is everything.“
Gemma found her way to becoming a plant-based champion as founder and chef at Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen after a whirlwind career in travel, hospitality and welfare. She is a devoted mother of two children – who inspire her everyday to work hard, but maintain a healthy work and life balance.
“Engage and bring your team on the journey with you. Encourage other contributions“
Sarah, dedicated, motivated landlady at The Cleveland Arms and mother of three, is a fantastic example of how it is possible to win in hospitality and raise a family. She doesn’t say it’s easy though!
“You do not need to justify yourself. Be yourself. You have a voice, so be sure to use it”
Ivana is the co-owner and operation manager at Petit Pois restaurant. Her commitment for providing impeccable service and delivering guest culinary satisfaction is second to none. She loves the people of Brighton and thrives on trials and challenges that the busy hospitality brings.
“Show kindness, especially towards your team”
Faye is the co-owner at Wild Flor. She was inspired by her grandmother’s culinary skills and decided to follow in her footsteps. She worked her way up from kitchen porter, to front of house and is now the co-owner of one of Hove’s most exquisite restaurants, Wild Flor.
“Work hard without an ego, and let the product speak for itself”
Olivia is pastry chef. She has honed her skills in some outstanding Brighton venues and clearly enjoys the creativity and camaraderie of her work.
Penny O Reilly
“Learn something new every day”
Penny is the Director, Space and Thyme. She is an incredible multitasker, who has worked in hospitality and travel across Europe and has now set up a formidable partnership with her husband Chris. Penny employs 60 staff, sees every day as being different and runs her business across a number of well known Brighton venues. Nothing is impossible for Penny as long as challenges are broken down into smaller chunks
Penny Streeter OBE
“Anything is possible”
Penny Streeter OBE, owner of the Benguela Cove wine and hospitality group, that includes Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate and Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, Horsham, Sussex. Penny is a genuine example of how with enough work and dedication anything is achievable.