6 Of London's Hottest Chefs Reveal Their Secrets To Success

Female chefs, we salute you. You're fierce, totally cool under pressure that would cause many people wilt like creamed spinach, and are often the lone woman in your workplace. And, despite the fact that only 20% of British chefs are female, that fifth percentile is smashing the glass ceilings of kitchens all over London, racking up more and more Michelin stars every year.

So, who better than these culinary trailblazers to share words of wisdom to inspire you to reach your vocational destiny? These ladies are just as good at serving up career advice as they are at crafting award-winning cuisine. Read on for a nourishing helping to start your week off right.


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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Angela Hartnett MBE, Chef Patron At Murano
Serving modern, seasonal food with an Italian twist, Angela's Michelin-starred restaurant, Murano, is one of the few restaurants to hold four AA Rosettes, and was included in the Good Food Guide’s top 50 restaurants for 2015. She oversaw the catering at London's Olympic Hospitality Centre in 2012, and in December 2014, she was appointed to the board of directors of Lime Wood Group and Home Grown Hotels Ltd.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Be Prepared To Apologise
"The way chefs learn to respond to complaints can be a great career lesson to everyone, as it's key to show humility in the workplace, whoever you are," Hartnett says. "Mistakes and problems happen — but to admit them, rectify them, and make sure that they’ve been dealt with by the time you go home for the day is the sign of a professional. You can never please every customer or stakeholder, so if that's the case, I think it's incredibly important to support your team. And, there's never, ever any excuse for rudeness.”
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Judy Joo, Executive Chef At Jinjuu
Joo started her career as a fixed income derivative salesperson at Morgan Stanley in New York and San Francisco, before deciding to pursue her true passion and enroll at the French Culinary Institute in NYC. After training stints at The Fat Duck and Thomas Keller's French Laundry, Judy became the only female Iron Chef UK, and has recently launched her first solo venture, Jinjuu, to showcase her interpretation of Korean street food and flavours.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Find Yourself A Mentor
"No matter what industry you’re in, someone with more experience and knowledge of the way it works can be an invaluable source of wisdom and voice of reason," Joo says. "I've made a point to have a mentor at every stage of my career, from my first boss in the food industry, Colman Andrews, to the amazing British chef and multiple restaurant owner, Jason Atherton. They can offer perspective, and help you through sticky situations, as well as providing a boost of confidence when you need it. I'm forever thankful to the caring and intelligent people who’ve helped me along the way."
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Shirin Kouros, Chef & Co-Owner Of The Good Life Eatery
Shirin's first job at 22 was at Nikki Beach in Miami, where she started in the PR and special events department, creating canapé and drinks menus, and eventually fell in love with food. After training with Daniel Boulud in New York, she and her business partner, Yasmine Larizadeh, opened The Good Life Eatery in 2013, bringing quick, fun and conveniently healthy bites to London.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Never Stop Learning
"A chef is only ever as good as their last meal, so it's vital to keep playing with flavours, and listen to constructive criticism from other people," Kouros says. "It's easy to get stuck in your own way of thinking and have a very narrow vision of what tasty food is. But, I still take courses as much as I can, and learn a tremendous from staff who have tricks from their own native countries. It's encouraged me to experiment with flavour profiles and dish concepts that I'd never have otherwise known about — and that makes a tastier menu for our customers."
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Aurelie Altemaire, Head Chef At L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Having worked everywhere from Paris to L.A., Altemaire joined L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in 2007 as chef de partie. She quickly impressed, and was promoted to head chef — no small feat when you remember that Joël Robuchon has more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world (27, to be exact!).
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Focus On Your Passion, Not Your Gender
"Pursuing a career within a male-dominated industry isn't as scary as people make it out to be — at least, it wasn’t for me — and I think it’s because I ignored my gender altogether, and showed passion and a boundless amount of determination," Altemaire says. "These qualities are far more important than any training, especially in the restaurant industry. And, if you focus on proving your worth and passion as much as the next man or woman, you won’t be viewed as anything but a brilliant professional."
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Maria Tampakis, Head Chef At Heddon Street Kitchen
When Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen opened in summer 2014, Maria got the gig of head chef, having proven her worth as senior sous chef at his Bread Street restaurant. A New Yorker with Greek heritage, her first ever job was working in a pizzeria at age 14 — and even then she knew that she was destined for a career leading the kitchen!
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Don't Burn Bridges
"I soon learned that despite being international, the restaurant scene is a much smaller, close-knit industry than you’d imagine, so reputation is everything," Tampakis tells us. "What you do in your current job — the good and the bad — can have a very direct result on your next role, so don't let any poorly thought-out decisions or reactions come back to haunt you later. The easiest thing to do is always question the consequences of everything you say or do beforehand."
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Tanya Maher, Owner Of Tanya’s Cafe
A renowned raw-food chef and wellness expert, Tanya is the creator of the bestselling DVD Raw Food 101, but is perhaps now better known as the genius behind Tanya's Cafe, a celebrity favourite and one of the most popular healthy eateries in London.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
"Believe that you can do anything, but more importantly, understand that you can't do everything," Maher says. "I'm still constantly learning to embrace this idea (it can be tough to let go!), but it's only when you build a support system around you that you can really succeed. It's amazing to see how much people really love to contribute and help you out, so it's really a win-win scenario."
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