Food & Drink
A photo of celebrated chef, Sally Abé in chef's whites. Her jacket says The Pem and her name. She is smiling. The backdrop is red.

Celebrated London chef presents month-long International Women’s Day celebration

A celebrated London chef is collaborating with four acclaimed female chefs in a month-long celebration for International Women’s Day in Westminster.

Sally Abé, renowned for her progressive annual events, promises spectacular culinary talent and unparalleled dining experiences under one roof at The Pem restaurant in Conrad London St. James hotel.

The line-up sees Abé, consultant chef at The Pem, working with each chef for an exclusive four-course menu featuring one-off dishes, each for a week, one after the other: Romy Gill MBE, Bake Off winner Candice Brown, Poppy O’Toole (aka Poppy Cooks) and Chantelle Nicholson.

One of CODE’s 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality 2022 and Women of the Year 2023, Abé said: “Every day to me is International Women’s Day.

“There tends to be a lot of noise on March 8, and I want to continue the celebration further, to showcase other female chefs that I think are amazing.”

The event is the third of its kind, with Abé wanting to build on the success of previous years.

Abé strives for equality, believing that a balanced work environment is the best one.

Her female dominant kitchen, removes the stereotype of a toxic work environment in hospitality, boosting employees wherever possible.

The consultant chef added: “It doesn’t have to be a macho, dog-eat-dog environment.

“Let’s create an environment where everyone wants to work in and thrive in.”

Abé will welcome two female chef students from Westminster Kingsway College for each event this month, which she hopes to develop further over time.

The event hopes to inspire and make a real change by ensuring the narrative about gender equality is kept in the conversation.

Dramatic shot of dish presented for Sally Abé's celebration of International Women's Day at The Pem. There is the main dish which includes pink and purple flowers and a sauce on the side.
Credit 7Fifty with permission from Red Kite PR: Sally Abé presents International Women’s Day at The Pem

Brown said: “For me to be part of a little movement and change is incredible, I feel honoured, I feel proud, proud to be a woman, proud to raise people up whether that is a woman, man and everything in between.

“It is amazing to cook alongside and learn from one of the best female chefs, and one of the best chefs in the UK full stop.”

Brown, who now owns The Green Man pub in Eversholt with her brother, spoke of the impostor syndrome she can have when people ask to see a manager and expect to be met with a man.

She described the inspirational feeling being surrounded by the electric atmosphere whilst guests were having conversations about the patriarchy.

She added: “What Sally does is amazing, and what she is doing for women in the industry is really special.

“To have the opportunity to work with these formidable women on a really special day is really amazing and it does make me take stock and realise I am doing this.”

In terms of collaboration, Brown said that she wanted to continue learning, finessing, and then learning some more.

Yet Brown and Abé both acknowledge the need for change in an industry which is predominantly male.

Whilst the former spoke of the existing wage gap, both women discussed the lack of structure in the industry for women: with maternity leave negatively impacting a woman’s career progression and difficult rotas making it problematic for parents.

This often results in losing chefs from the industry or women having to focus solely on their career.

Brown added: “We will keep ticking along, and we will keep doing what we need to, to be able to showcase one another.”

Abé maintains strong relationships with respective women in the industry allowing her to focus on natural partnerships for this event which may explain the like-mindedness of her collaborators.

Dramatic shot of dish presented for Sally Abé's celebration of International Women's Day at The Pem. There is the main dish which includes 7 spheres containing ingredients. There is a yellow sauce dressed on the plate.
Credit 7Fifty with permission from Red Kite PR: Sally Abé presents International Women’s Day at The Pem

Multi-award-winning chef and 2023 Michelin Green Star recipient, Chantelle Nicholson said: “Both Sally and I have made conscious decisions, created kitchens which are very supportive and the opposite of what we may have experienced at the beginning of our careers.”

Nicholson added that more women would be retained in the industry if media exposure and conversations were more diverse, supporting and solidifying a world that needs to become normalised.

She spoke of having her own business which has allowed her to learn from previous experiences and to not include the things that she does not want in a business.

Speaking on sustainability, she focused on how people forget to be conscious about each other and how sustainability should not just represent the environment, but rather the industry as a whole.

Michelin-trained internet sensation Poppy O’Toole is the next chef to cook up a storm at The Pem this week (15-21 March) with Chantelle Nicholson presenting her culinary skill from March 22.

The event has received phenomenal feedback so far as the four women pioneer the way forward, supporting one another whilst doing so.

A feat that seems mighty but to these celebrated women it is a necessity to see the change that they hope to see in the world.

In Abé’s words: “The sky is the limit.”

Credit: 7Fifty. Supplied by and permission to use from Red Kite PR

Related Articles