The New Power Players
Professional, knowledgeable, fearless, the backbone of the kitchen, exceptionally talented… These are some of the ways Head Chef Danielle Alvarez describes her female staff at Fred’s. And although it wasn’t a conscious decision to recruit as many women as she has, Danielle is nevertheless excited about working in the not altogether common restaurant environment. “Our industry does tend to be more male dominated,” Danielle admits. “And to make it as a woman takes guts.” Here, we meet some of her team.
After moving to France from Gabon as a teenager, Charlotte Gonzales cut her teeth at two Michelin star restaurant L’Atelier. In Australia, she found herself in the kitchens of Felix and Coogee Pavilion, before moving to Fred’s.
What’s different about Fred’s? Cooking on the wood fire with produce from the farms. For me it’s a bit like going back to what I used to do in the south of France, when fisherman would call you into the market when they had something special. Have you always been passionate about food? Yes, always. Eating is a very important thing in my family. Food and wine is a way for us to share a moment together. I’m very thankful for that. Do you think the hospitality industry is changing for women? I think it already has. It’s a tough environment and you have to stand up for yourself, but that’s the same rule for male and female. I’ve proved I can do the job just as well or even better than guys. What would be your death row meal? My dad’s beef daube [stew] reheated from the previous day served with fresh tagliatelle. It’s unbeatable!
After growing up in her parent’s Yorkshire Dales pub, Rosanna Eastwood got her big break at fine dining restaurant The Box Tree. From there she moved to Australia to work at Momofuko Seiobo, before joining Merivale as a pastry chef.
What’s a misconception men in the kitchen have about women in the kitchen? Some guys seem to think we’re weak and emotional most of the time. But I haven’t copped any flak for my gender working in Sydney, and when I did previously, I just ignored it. Do you think the energy of Fred’s will feel different because there’s a female head chef? I think it will be the same. At the end of the day, we’re aiming to achieve the same things as we would if Danielle were a man. Have you always been passionate about food? I’ve always loved eating, especially sweet things. My family taught me to appreciate great food that was grown and collected from the garden – there were never any microwave meals in my family. What’s your earliest food memory? Mixing my gran’s rhubarb crumble together with custard! What can you do better than anyone else? At the moment I’m pretty good at running up and stairs; The Paddington has four levels!
Hailing from Western Australia, Caitlyn Rees discovered the joy of wine after moving to Sydney and studying with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and working at bars Love, Tilly Devine and The Wine Library and Felix.
What’s special about the wine list at Fred’s? Every wine on the list is interesting in some way – be it an unusual grape variety, location, or the way it has been made. Also, following Danielle’s food philosophy in regards to using local produce, there is a good proportion of Australian wine on the list. What does a sommelier do on a day-today- basis? The fun part is service, but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on. Fred’s is going to be great because we’re only buying small quantities of each wine and the list will always be changing, but that also means a lot of work finding new wines and training staff. How do you deal with sexism in the workplace? I’ve learned the best way is to have a one-on-one conversation. The first time I did this, I actually found the experience very empowering and I like to think that the particular gentleman reflected on his behaviour and will think twice about doing it again to someone else. What’s your death row meal? Some Sydney rock oysters and Moreton bay bugs with a Ganevat Chardonnay!
Working her way up the ladder at est. – from food runner to waiter, supervisor, assistant manager and finally, restaurant manager – Carissa Teeling left the fine dining restaurant to step into the role of General Manager of The Paddington, Fred’s and Charlie Parker’s.
Do you think the energy of Fred’s will be different because you’re working for a female head chef? Every chef has a different energy and temperament so I’m sure Fred’s will have it’s own feel. Danielle is incredibly passionate and humble, and her food is delicious; I’m excited to work with her. Has gender ever been an issue in the workplace for you? When I was at est. a lot of people assumed my assistant (male and a lot taller than me) was the restaurant manager. Sometimes it was fun to give people the element of surprise when they asked to speak to the RM and I’d say, “I’m the manager, how may I help.” What’s something you wish you’d known before working in restaurants? Working night and weekends will mean missing a lot of family and friend’s celebrations. That didn’t register until far later in my career. Did you plan to have a career in hospitality? Not really. Although when we were little, my brothers and I would have different themed restaurant nights to surprise my dad when he got home, so maybe I should have known! What makes for a happy working kitchen? Happy people.
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