Women’s Month Interview #3 – Women of TASTE– Anne Taylor
How was your career experience in the Culinary Industry?
My experience started many, many years ago. It was an extension of my field of study, I studied culinary at an undergraduate level and developed a passion for it there. From there I was fortunate enough to be requested to come back as a lecturer at the institution where I studied and that led to a 45 years career of teaching culinary as well as culinary related classes.
In culinary is absolutely necessary for you to experience beyond just the classroom so I used every opportunity to work in five star hotels and restaurants and ultimately I started my own catering company which I ran for about 10 years, doing in-house private catering at people’s homes and then, together with that, it was just the overall experience of working in the food industry and food teaching.
What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement so far was persevering with my culinary experience to become a reasonable expert at what I’m doing. Your achievement can either be very wide and very shallow or it can be a little bit narrow and deep. I selected to do post graduate studies in both education as well as culinary so I understand how teaching and learning happens and I can apply that in the culinary world. Which is very necessary because it is one of the confusing things to teach. How do you teach culinary? How do you engage students in making culinary a passion for them and to make it a career for them?
What skills should women develop before they enter this industry?
Women are entering in a particularly men dominated world in both hospitality and culinary but that is slowly changing. Internationally, the intake numbers in culinary schools the women now exceed the men as students which means that there will ultimately be a shift. It has to filter all the way through to management, etc.
There are sacrifices in the culinary world both for men and women and I think it’s the recognition that there are sacrifices, not only for women. For women particularly it is the inter-reaction of that with perhaps.. more of a domestic need, of where there are children or a home, but I believe those can be married because there are so many careers in culinary now where you don’t have to work the traditional hours or conditions. Culinary has expanded into coffee-shops, into creations, into small business, into entrepreneurial careers which I think allow a woman to be able to blend the 2 successfully. A work life balance is important, and I think women are learning to do that. They are standing up to the predominantly historic view that you’ve got to slog it out for 16 hours in a kitchen to prove that you can cook. That is no longer a perception of a career.
Women are saying: “I can do it. I can either open a coffee shop, I can either go and do cake making o go and do entrepreneurship, and very big at the moment is this small business that specializes in cheese making or sauces or other products that are supporting the hospitality industry.
Also, understanding that the catering industry in changing dramatically. Restaurants are not the only place that feed people now and hotels are not the only place where people can go and eat, so there’s a bigger selection of career options.
Any advice for women who want to start a Career in this industry?
Number 1: Understand that there are going to be sacrifices, and that is in any career. Become knowledgeable about what it’s going to take from you.
And number 2: have a passion for what you are doing. No matter what you do, do it well, do it better than anybody else. That takes patience, perseverance, commitment to your own career and tolerance, and a huge dose of humbleness. I am a firm believer in that humbleness takes you a lot further than arrogance, so a combination. And keep yourself informed. Keep on the cutting edge of what’s happening.