Celebrate International Women's Day with Brisbane's leading women of hospo | The Gourmand & Gourmet

Celebrate International Women's Day with Brisbane's leading women of hospo

Who run the world? Strong, smart and fearless women (Beyonce was close I guess?).

Brisbane’s foodie scene is flourishing thanks to m*n (my Meme Queens will understand this censor, thanks M*rk Z*ckerberg) and women alike, but with International Women’s Day on the horizon, we thought it fitting to solely celebrate the hospitality industry’s frontwomen who are imperative to your favourite local feeds. 

We were lucky enough to sit down with five leading foodie babes, getting to know the workings of their beautiful, boss brains and their perspectives on all things hospo.

You’re about to get a taste of what Jacqui Toumbas (Miss Bliss), Claire Parviz (Spaghetti House and CJ’s Pasta), Katrina Ryan (The Golden Pig Restaurant + Cooking School), Amelia Taylor (One Fish Two Fish) and Sarah Watson (Bundaberg Rum Distiller) have to say with all of Brisbane’s big chick energy behind them.

Pictured: Jacqui Toumbas 

Everyone’s path to where they are today ran unique bar a few consistencies across the board, being a lot of sweat, tears and grind (both coffee and bloody hard work) to get to where they are today.

Parviz summaries it fittingly: “I think ‘roller coaster’ sums it up nicely! Some days I get home feeling I’ve been flung from one and landed head first, and then other nights I am on a total high. It’s so very unpredictable and you just have to go with the ups and downs.”

Toumbas describes her journey through the hospitality industry in a powerful light: “Empowering – I say this because I came into hospitality not knowing a thing. I studied Nutrition and decided I wanted to open a cafe. When I say not knowing a thing, I mean I didn’t know how to manage staff, pay the invoices, source suppliers etc … so seeing how far I have come in the past few years to me is empowering. A moment I can sit back and say I am proud of myself.”

As for what each woman loves about being a fem dom of the industry, Taylor puts it perfectly: “I’ve always been lucky to have friends who have been in the industry longer give advice when needed – not sure if that’s about being a woman or being younger, but either way I love that hospitality equalises age, sex, race etc. Doesn’t matter who you are as long as you are hard working and can carry three plates,” (“and can carry three plates” – we love this woman)

Pictured: Amelia Taylor

Parviz draws strength from showing people what she’s made of: “I love that people underestimate me all the time and that I get the opportunity to prove them wrong. I love that the doubters and haters are now asking questions. I don’t take no for an answer and relish that surprised look on people’s faces when people realise I am doing this on my own with the support of my amazing team.” You go girl.

Pictured: Claire Parviz

When it comes to women supporting women, each of our interviewees has an idol in the industry.

Ryan tells us the woman she admires is “Alanna Sapwell, head chef of the newly opened Arc Restaurant and Bar. She is young and very talented and faces a difficult challenge against sexism in the industry which I believe is more prevalent these days than it was 30 years ago.”

Taylor gives a shoutout to someone you know from this article: “Claire Parviz – she never seems to waiver in her professionalism no matter what’s happening around her.”

Watson has more than one woman to look up to: “I’ve met so many exceptional and inspiring people throughout my career in the spirits industry however the people who have had the most influence on me and my career journey have been those who manage to find a balance of achieving a rewarding career and quality family time. That’s something I’ve always admired and strive to achieve.”

Pictured: Sarah Watson 

As for kicking goals in the near future, you better believe that these lasses haven’t stopped dreaming about reaching new heights.

Toumbas is focussing on balance: “Business wise, my goals are to expand on our catering services and achieve a name for ourselves as Brisbane’s best wholefoods caterers. Personally, to manage a work/life balance and simply enjoy life!”

Parviz wants “to keep every single customer that walks through our doors happy! LOL… I wish…seriously though, to be a better Boss Lady and to keep the businesses thriving and successful with the hopes of growing both them and our team. Outside of hospo-life, the goal is always to be a better mum, daughter, sister, aunt, great aunt and friend – and somehow figure out that work/life balance. Has anyone done that yet?”

Ryan is striving “to continue to build the Golden Pig as a multifaceted business. We are putting on an extra cooking class this year and expanding the restaurant hours to include Friday lunch.”

Pictured: Katrina Ryan

Watson notes “I love this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #BalanceForBetter. Balance is what I’m always aiming for across all the different areas of my life. It’s something you need to consistently work on and prioritise.”

Bringing it home, Taylor aspires “to encourage more restaurants and bars to stay true to their brand and to produce a bigger and better Rosé Revolution event,” yes, she’s also the brains behind a stellar marketing company!

We hope you loved delving into the minds of the successful, and if you have your own dreams, for the love of lady god, chase them! You got it, girl.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Words by Nicole Portacha
- the gourmand who isn’t a drag, just a queen