Today marks International Women’s Day, a day where we can celebrate the fabulous females who make shit happen alongside their day-to-day lives; whilst being genuine, looking fierce and having breasts.
The Bristol food and drink scene is full of powerhouse ladies whom I really admire (and have serious girl crushes on!). They are making giant waves and representing this city right alongside their male counterparts. If there is one thing I have found to be prominent in Bristol, it is that everyone is ready to support and celebrate each other, rather than compete and tear each other down.
I thought it would be nice to shout out just some of the women (there are plenty in Bristol that I could sing praises about) and why I love them. There are so many more I’d personally recommend @NatalieBrereton
The Cool Chef Club
Elly Pear has had a busy year so far. As the owner of Pear Cafe, she has released her best-selling ‘Fast Days & Feast Days’ recipe book and is set to drop another, ‘Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat’ in June. She is a champion of Bristol’s culinary scene (take a look at her Instagram @ellypear for a peek at the delicious dishes she prepares and where she’s eating out). Elly has a wicked sense of humour and rocks a blow dry like nobody else. I admire her because she is down to earth, humble and (at the risk of sounding like a 90’s rapper) really keeps it real.
Romy Gill owns and runs Romy’s Kitchen in Thornbury. She also takes part in pop-ups, offers cooking demonstrations is also an active humanitarian; working with Action Against Hunger and the Frank Water Charity. Oh, did I mention she was also awarded an MBE? Quite the inspiration! I recently had the pleasure of meeting Romy – her food was delicious and I was also pleased to learn that she can chat as much as me, a lady after my own heart.
Verity Foss is one half of the brains behind Oowee Diner. There is no way I could write about the women I admire without mentioning Verity – a lady that can cook up burgers and serve me filth like she does is the ultimate bad ass in my opinion. Hard working and incredibly skilled at her craft, Oowee is jam-packed most nights, with their reputation spreading like wildfire across Bristol. When I visited, it was full to the rafters and she was smiling, laughing and happily chatting away to all her punters, whilst serving up baps like, no big deal.
The Wonderful Wine Women
Fiona Beckett is a lady who knows her wine. An award-winning writer, she is one of the UK’s hottest experts on food and drink pairings and has written a staggering 23 books on food, wine and beer. Her latest offering covers 101 ways to enjoy wine and cheese (including a nostalgic cheese section!) so there is no snobbery here. Her website is packed with pairing ideas, recipes, new drinks to discover and reviews (I think it’s safe to say you can trust her opinion).
Kate Hawkings is a Bristol legend, and I want to be her. Restaurateur and writer, to say she is successful is an understatement. She is involved with Bristol favourites Bell’s Diner (Montpelier) and Bellita (Cotham Hill) and has written a column for the Guardian. I visited Bellita this week and was hugely impressed with the wine list, not overly long or intimidating, incredibly reasonable (no bottle exceeding the £50 mark) and all provided by female winemakers; with the write-ups telling a little about their story too, giving it the personal touch. Kate understands the Bristol food scene and caters for it brilliantly; it doesn’t have to be swanky to be amazing. I salute you Kate.
Louise Hawkings heads up the charming wine bar ‘The Library’ on Cheltenham Road (there must be something about the name Hawkings and wine). Louise and her sister Sarah took a plunge and opened their venue in August 2014 with Louise being only 23 at the time. The risk has paid off and The Library continues to flourish. Louise is warm, friendly and professional – running a bar is no walk in the park, however, she makes it looks like a breeze.
The Superwoman Spirit Slayers
Sam Espensen is a real life superwoman. I have got so much time for her and everything she represents. Sam and her business partner (a wonderful lady named Phil) created Espensen Spirit together – a delicious range of infused spirits (Gin Genie is a must try). Recently, Sam opened her cocktail bar, Bristol Spirit; a neighbourhood watering hole in St George. Sam has overcome the odds in order to get where she is today, as she suffers with PTSD but this doesn’t hold her back. She uses her business platforms to raise awareness of mental health issues and has created her bar space with this in mind. Not only is Sam a bit of an inspiration, but also incredibly brave, and churns out amazing cocktails – Is there anything that she can’t do?
Dee Davies is a bad ass. She is a bartender bad ass. She is also the creator and the brand ambassador of Jinzu Gin, in which she beat hundreds of other hopefuls to take the title of the prestigious 2013 Diageo Show Your Spirit competition. Until recently, she was providing delicious drinks at Bristol’s Red Light Bar. She is a creative soul and in an interview with the Difford’s Guide, Dee says she ‘believes in being nice to everybody for the simple reason there is no reason not to be.’ These are pretty wise words to live by.
The Beautiful Bosses
Pam Lloyd is the boss lady at Pam Lloyd PR. I heart Pam. She has a hands-on approach to running her successful PR business and balancing her family life like a pro. She is warm, kind and has a cracking sense of humour. Pam’s inspirational words encourage me to go and get what I want and to always be myself. I also can’t talk about Pam without mentioning the bevvy of beauties who work alongside her – the wonderful Olivia, Polly, Rosie and Heather; all hard working, go getting ladies – talk about a dream team.
Katherine Craughwell manages the team and front of house at beautiful Bulrush, one of my favourite Bristol restaurants. When I first met Katherine, I felt like I was catching up with an old friend, she is softly spoken (don’t be fooled) and incredibly knowledgeable. Being in her company is relaxing because she maintains her professional self without any air of pretentiousness, another on who (at the risk of sounding like a 90’s rapper again) really keeps it real. I want to drink wine with her all listen to all her stories. I will be back in soon Katherine!
The Amazing All-Rounders
Caroline Peel is one of the best people I have ever met. Total girl crush going on here. She is a PR powerhouse who works hard, is incredibly well-organised and reliable but most importantly she always has a smile on her face. Caroline is infallible, she gives great advice and is supportive of all of us women, pushing us to be better and believe in ourselves. She knows a lot of people in Bristol and an all-too-familiar sentence I have heard when mentioning her is ‘Isn’t Caroline the best person ever?’ and they’re right.
The Duchess Media Duo encapsulates everything it means to be fierce and fabulous. The ladies behind this venture are Meg Pope and Frankie Apples – two friends who decided to go into business together and haven’t looked back since (I know, inspiring right?!) They offer a range of digital, social and event planning to the Bristol scene AND they also DJ together (looking sexy whilst doing so!). OK, so I may be a bit of a groupie, but these two ladies are smashing it, all whilst being their own bosses. A shining example of how if you work hard and put the graft in, you can do anything you want.
The Ladies Taking Action
Sara Venn has many talents. She is a food activist, gardener, writer and horticulturalist (to name but a few). In 2014 she founded Incredible Edible Bristol; an initiative which encourages people to get back into growing and gardening in spaces that have the potential to nourish such life. Sara runs the scheme voluntarily, often working an 80 hour week. She does this because it empowers her and she wants to encourage others to get involved and be a part of something special. How wonderful it is to see a strong woman taking charge of her own mission and also want to educate others.
Steph Wetherell is a champion of keeping things local, a theme which is always so prominent in Bristol. After spending time living and working on farms, Steph developed a connection with the food she consumed – knowing exactly where it came from. She is now on a journey to encourage this sort of lifestyle in our city, so we can support our small scale farmers and buy directly from producers. In doing so, we can trace exactly where the food on our plate has come from. We could probably all learn a thing or two about changing our eating habits from this lady.
Kalpna Woolf knows a thing or two about food. She’s got 20 years of time in spent at the BBC, taking charge of various food series’. She is a writer, has judged at food festivals and awards and partakes in Charity work. She is the brainchild behind Bristol’s ’91 Ways to build a global city’ – crowdfunding to launch a series of Peace Cafes to bring communities together using the power of food; an amazing concept in a city where there are so many different cultures. Kalpna is passionate about bringing people together and this spirit is at the heart of what she is doing in Bristol. Because let’s face it, in a world where we are often met with a lot of bad news, this is an exciting project and a great idea to meet individuals you may not normally cross paths with.