Birmingham is the most exciting food destination in the UK, according to the latest Good Food Guide - which also saw celebrated Birmingham restaurant The Wilderness make the guide’s top 10 best restaurants in the country.
However, the city’s hospitality industry - like so many other industries and similar to the restauurant scene across the country - could do more to promote gender diversity. And this is why some of the firebrand females from Birmingham’s hospitality industry have banded together to host a charity dinner to celebrate themselves and their fellow female peers.
Some the UK’s top chef talent are taking over The Wilderness - renowned for its rock and roll fine dining in the Jewellery Quarter, in Birmingham tonight (Sunday, October 30).
The Women In Hospitality Charity Dinner will see chefs, bartenders and sommeliers host a special lunch to celebrate women in the hospitality industry. The funds raised will go to two charities: Anawim, Birmingham’s Centre for Women and The Burnt Chef Project, which helps to fight mental health stigma within the hospitality trade.
Why is the event so significant?
Simpsons alumni and founder of tuttoAPPOSTO, Angelina Adamo, who created the event, spoke to BirminghamWorld about the highs and lows of working in hospitality.
One of the best experiences during her career was when she worked at Simpsons. “I had a great time working at the restaurant, it went really well, but if you put a foot wrong, you get noticed for that as well,” Angelina said about being a woman in the industry. The young chef - who is inspired by internationally renowned Chef Clare Smyth, the first and only femaile chef to run a restaurant iwth three Michelin stars - said that during a difficult phase as well there is no time to get emotional and she just had to “get on with it”, learn and move on.
She said that it is not that women are the only ones who get emotional while working. “Men are emotional too but women are better at speaking about it. But, when you work in a kitchen it is hard to admit that you are not having a good day and you can’t cry about it,” she said.
Mental health is still a difficult topic in the industry and the pandemic took a toll on people, she said. “In small restaurants, Michelin-starred restaurants, the boss has to manage the HR and you can’t talk about your needs. This needs to change and the restaurants usually don’t have resources for having a separate HR - which is a shame,” she added.
On a more positive note Angelina explained that being on furlough during the lockdowns was good for people’s mental health since they didn’t have to worry about finances.
About the hospitality industry in Birmingham, she said that everyone knows everyone and there are some male head chefs, who can be touchy. Angelina, who is now a bespoke private chef, works for herself and loves it. However, she has been feeling lonely in the last three months and that prompted her to come together with “fantastic women in the industry”.
She was struggling with anxiety as she had to take care of her social media accounts and felt pressured to put her face out there to make the posts engaging - when she wasn’t alwasy feeling as positive as they may have looked. “Someone’s social media page might look busy, but they could be going through a lot behind the scenes,” she said.
Angelina further said that the stress of working in a kitchen can be excessive for some while others thrive on it. She said: “If someone had told me about the reality of stress in the industry, it would have made me second guess my choice of career, but I would have still gone forward. Colleges need to be better prepared in teaching people how to handle the aggressive pressure.”
At the end of the day, Angelina still wants young women to go for it as there are loads of different roles that people can move on to in hospitality. “It’s the best buzz ever,” she added.
The special dinner
The Women In Hospitality Charity Dinner commences with two cocktails, followed by three courses paired with complementing wines. The set menu begins with an arrival cocktail, before guests enjoy snacks, three courses, three paired wines, petit fours and a digestif cocktail.
The cocktails will be provided by Katie Rouse of Couch, a Stirchley cocktail bar named one of the UK’s top 50, and Eve Green of Passing Fancies, a Digbeth-based cocktail bar headed up by an award-winning trio.
The first course has been created by Michelin-trained chef Poppy O’Toole of Poppy Cooks.
The main course will be provided by Angelina Adamo, Simpsons alumni and founder of tuttoAPPOSTO, and MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Louisa Ellis.
The dessert has been crafted by Georgia Frend, Sous chef at Michelin-Starred Simpsons Restaurant and Farah Chaudryof local bakery and coffee shop Pause Birmingham.
All dishes will be accompanied by a wine pairing provided by Abigail Connolly of local wine bar Arch 13 At Connolly’s.
How to book the dinner
The Women In Hospitality Charity Dinner is being held at The Wilderness tonight (Sunday, October 30). It has been created by chef Angelina Adamo and is priced at £67 per person. Bookings for the Women In Hospitality Charity Dinner can be made via The Wilderness restaurant’s website.