Celebrating Women In Hospitality
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on talented women who are making incredible moves in the hospitality industry.
Anna Haugh is a chef and owner of Irish-influenced restaurant, Myrtle. Her talents can also be seen on the big screen on shows such as Morning Live, Saturday Kitchen and Master Chef. Explore her interesting journey and insights on navigating the hospitality industry and achieving success below.
How it all began
One might think Anna was destined to work in hospitality. Cooking and sourcing quality ingredients is something she enjoyed and learnt from her mother at an early age. So much so that she could cook dinner for family and friends by age 12 and was receiving feedback that she should become a chef. Still, when asked if this was a career choice she seriously considered at the time, surprisingly she admitted that it wasn’t, recalling that her school career advisor had scoffed at the very idea. She explained that it wasn’t until years later when she was working in a café and asked to help in the kitchen one day that the thought of becoming a chef resurfaced, but this time in an unshakable way. “Something in my stomach just clicked and I felt like whatever feeling I have now, this has been missing in my life”, she explained about that first encounter in a professional kitchen. Anna’s creative fire continues to be ignited by the ability to transform the taste of food. “What excites me is food that tastes delicious from how you have treated it, she explained. “To eat a crisp fresh apple in season from a wonderful orchard already tastes great but if you can take that apple and turn it into an incredible delicate soufflé that does justice to the original flavour, that is quite something.’ Anna’s passion for food has blossomed throughout her career and she has contributed her skills in numerous establishments including Rocket Foods and Gordan Ramsey’s London House as well as her own restaurant, Myrtle, which she opened in 2019.
When questioned about career challenges, Anna shared that ‘believing in yourself and following your own drive’ can be very hard especially when opening a restaurant and running your own business. She explained that knowing your own failings can prevent you from doing so but what has pushed her forward is the fact she loves her job. “It’s about resilience, self-belief and making a decision and going with it.” She acknowledged that questioning yourself is not necessarily doubting yourself as it can be important to consider if you can do things better, for example, which is something she constantly does.
“Opening a business is not for the faint hearted. You have to be in it for the long gain and you need the right support. You choose companies that have strengths that you don’t have and that’s how businesses succeed”, she explained, referencing our bookkeeping team here at Paperchase, as an example of a source of insight and guidance regarding her financial options as a restaurateur.
Managing the different aspects of chef life and running a restaurant can be a challenge. Anna revealed that asking for help, relying on her team to do their jobs, and keeping the communication flowing enables her to stay on top of the different aspects of her business beyond creating the menu. She added: “I feel like momentum helps you embrace the workload” before going on to explain that she enjoys busy days and the feeling of “finishing one challenge and moving onto the next one while you have adrenaline flowing.”
There are many aspects of Anna’s journey that she is proud of, including having had the opportunity to work in various amazing restaurants with several highly acclaimed chefs throughout her career. In addition, the Master Chef judge warmly described running her restaurant whilst embarking on motherhood as one of her most recent and sentimental highlights. Even whilst heavily pregnant she remained happily active in Myrtle as it brought her joy. She described this moment in time as having all of her dreams come true!
Industry reflections & lessons
On her greatest lesson from the industry, Anna shared that: “Mistakes are not bad. Mistakes are good. I am a complete reflection of every single mistake I’ve ever made… Doing everything right does not teach you. Doing every wrong teaches you…Mistakes are lessons.”
On reflection, she also wishes she realised she saw the value in being her authentic self, much earlier on in her career. She admits that back then she would try to hide the bones of her personality such as her positivity and femininity, as she thought to do well in her career, she had be tough or aggressive. Knowing better now, she advices future hospitality professionals to be themselves. “Be you. Be really proud of who you are. The sooner you accept yourself for the good, the bad and the ugly, the calmer and nicer It will feel inside and the higher you will actually go because people love sincerity, honesty and integrity.”
In addition, Anna pointed out: “You have to like people to like this job, and if you don’t like people you shouldn’t be in this job. This job is all about people. It’s all about giving and sharing and grafting”. This is reflected in her management philosophy of promoting and reinforcing kindness, passion, honesty, respect, and communication.
Follow more of Anna’s journey on Instagram: @haughser
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