The Women to Watch & Role Models for Inclusion in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure Index 2022 was announced earlier this week, and we are incredibly proud to see our Culinary Leads – Projects and Women in Food chair, Gemma Evans-Hurley featured.
Now in its fourth year, the publication highlights the depth and breadth of female talent in the sector – demonstrating that inspiring individuals can be found in all parts of the sector, across all disciplines and functions. Gemma told the creators of the report:
“Food is my first love. I knew I wanted to be a chef from a young age and set my ambitions high. At 18, I graduated from the prestigious Westminster Kingsway College with a professional chef’s diploma. After working in the London restaurant scene, I ventured out to Spain to learn a European approach to cooking. I joined Compass in 2010 as a Sous Chef, and then studied further to evolve my skills. This led to me being promoted to Head Chef aged 21, where I then naturally progressed into a National Executive Chef role just a year later.”
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
I spent over five years planning and delivering educational workshops in my role with Chartwells, which included food festivals and community engagement days. This is when I first realised what a huge difference I could make. I loved educating people on different ingredients and evolving their pallets. In 2012, I was called to compete in the World Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany. I won gold and have since returned in 2021 with a regional team taking my second gold medal.
Why do you think it is important to have role models in the industry?
Being a role model and having role models is absolutely critical to promoting our great industry and nurturing the next generation of talent. I’m incredibly lucky to have had great mentors who push me to expand my skills and knowledge, so I’m a huge advocate of showing people that anything is possible. We have a fantastic career pathway at Compass which was promoted recently when I went back to Westminster College to speak to culinary students about the industry opportunities. I gave the advice I wish I had been given.
How are you, and Compass, encouraging greater diversity within hospitality, travel and leisure?
At Compass we have established DE&I networks, plus a regular calendar of activity throughout the year. I am the proud Chair of the Women in Food initiative which strives for a positive environment for women and allies, underpinning support, development, and engagement, which makes for brilliantly diverse and dynamic teams. When I set out as an ambitious young chef, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to change people’s lives, but Women in Food has given me the platform to do just that!
Why should more women consider a career within our industry ?
It is so rewarding working in this diverse industry, and as a woman, a company is so much more enticing with good initiatives and opportunities for all. The Women in Food network has been instrumental in supporting change around maternity, menopause and working environments which allows us to champion the best for all our employees. I am passionate for change for people and change that supports our road map to net zero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of history?
For the full report click here: