Last month, myself and our Executive Chef Suzanne were invited along to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh for the inaugural Business Woman Scotland Edinburgh Live event.

A wonderful opportunity to celebrate women in business, we jumped at the chance and to talk about how important (and easy) it is to eat well when working hard.

Suzanne is our sustainable champion across all Contini restaurants and there’s no way I would go to an event like that without her. She’s my right hand woman!

Isn’t it interesting saying that? “My right hand woman”. Shouldn’t it be right hand man? If you ask me, absolutely not. If anything, the food and hospitality industry has really given women an opportunity to step out from under the shadow of our male counterparts and act as industry ambassadors and trailblazers in our own right.

Earlier in March, we also celebrated International Women’s Day. I’ve only recently found out that there is also an International Men’s Day (November 19th, if you really want to know) but I haven’t known any men to really make a big deal about it. Nevertheless, we celebrated with a very special event at one of our restaurants where we had a panel of some of Scotland’s most pioneering woman in food; Shirley Spear of The Three Chimneys, Denise Walton from Peelham Farm, Fiona Richmond from Scotland Food & Drink and food writer Sumayya Usmani.

I come from a family of strong women who have always been independently-minded and determined to succeed. It’s been interesting for me to observe the changes that have taken place over the last few years and how women have really upped their game to challenge the generally male-dominated food and hospitality industry.  At Contini, we have worked hard to ensure that, of senior management team, only four out of thirteen posts are held by men.

I’m proud to say that our Head of Sales, Head of Events, Executive Chef, Executive Manager, Head Gardener at the Scottish Kitchen Garden and Head of Finance and Accounts are all fantastic ladies. Are we unique in our industry to be fortunate to work with so many woman, or do women just attract women? I wouldn’t say we’re unique but I would say we’re fair and help champion equal opportunities across the entire business.

Like so many others I met at the Business Women Scotland Live event, the women in our business all have drive and determination. They know what they want and they’re not frightened to go and get it. Every day should be International Women’s Day if you ask me, as it allows our team of strong and independent women to champion what we do so well.

There are some amazingly talented women out there in the food industry. Many of the most successful women have a real entrepreneurial spirit and what is really encouraging, though, is that it’s the food doing the talking, not the fact that it’s been created by a female. What I would really like to see is more young women being given the opportunity to work in this fantastic industry.

We’re working with Edinburgh College’s hospitality students and it’s extremely rewarding and encouraging to see such enthusiastic young people have a real zest to work in the food, drink and hospitality sector.

Everyone has to start somewhere so we need to harness this enthusiasm to learn and develop and inspire more women of all ages and abilities to not be afraid to challenge the norm.

Enjoy Carina’s recipe for apple & sultana crumble, as featured in the current issue of Business Women Scotland magazine here.