Julia Campbell On Launching Women In Hospitality

Women in Hospitality founder, Julia Campbell.

Early last month, Julia Campbell launched the not-for-profit, Women in Hospitality. Founded with the aim of championing women in the industry, the organisation provides members with a forum through which to explore ideas and share information, as well as access to education and mentorship initiatives.

The inaugural Women in Hospitality event saw the founding of the WOHO board, made up of such luminaries as Anthea Loucas Boscha (Gourmet Traveller), Anna Pavoni (Ormeggio), Jane Hyland (4Fourteen), Lyndey Milan (Summer Baking Secrets) and Claire Van Vuuren (Bloodwood).

FoodService spoke to Campbell about forming Women in Hospitality and her vision for the association.



Congratulations on the launch of Women In Hospitality. How does it feel?
It feels great! We have had such amazing feedback from the launch event. It was a dream panel with Jane Strode (Bistrode), Sarah Doyle (Porteño), Alex Herbert (Bird Cow Fish), Joanna Savill (former editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide), Annette Lacey (Lotus Dining) and Anthea Loucas Boscha (Gourmet Traveller). It was very representative of the format of the events to come
What drew you to a career in food?
There is something instantly gratifying about being part of the hard working team that makes a customer smile on their first greeting or bite in a restaurant.
         I had always loved food and cooking, however never saw myself as a chef. I studied accounting at university to be able to apply to business and completed a third of it eating (and studying) around Mexico and France. It was from there that I discovered this whole other world of working in food and hospitality without the special talent of being behind the stoves. I worked as Lyndey Milan’s personal and food assistant before moving over to New York to cut my teeth in hospitality in the Big Apple. I haven’t looked back and could never imagine being as happy as I am working in a different industry.
What inspired you to found WOHO? 
In New York I was part of a national not-for-profit called Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. I saw the power and inspiration that could be drawn from a roomful of women in the industry all there to support each other. Moving back to Australia, I found that such an organisation didn’t exist. The hospitality industry is still very male dominated and the issues that women experience in all facets of it are very different to the males. It is important to discuss these issues, support each other and the next generation to attract and retain females to the industry.
         Women in Hospitality is about women sharing their stories and experiences that give other women the strength and inspiration to stay and grow stronger in every facet of this crazy industry of our. As everyone in our industry knows whatever you do it is much more a vocation than it is a job!
What is your vision for WOHO?
WOHO will be a forum where females can share information and experiences, discuss issues, find solutions and support each other to help foster their careers in the hospitality industry. We will grow nationally and be present with other organisations to represent Australian hospitality females on the international stage too.
How do you hope WOHO will influence or cement change in the food and beverage industry?
I hope that women will feel more empowered to embark on a career in food and beverage, to work together to find solutions to female specific issues in the industry and work out the gender imbalance that the industry currently faces.
How can women in the food and beverage industry get involved?
Women can sign up via our website. We will be releasing membership details soon which will allow members access to exclusive quarterly networking and educational events, forums for job opportunities and general forums and newsletters profiling other women and sharing current news.
Who in the industry do you admire most and why?
Elizabeth Falkner. Elizabeth is a dear friend and chef from the US. Elizabeth was the first person I saw on the tv in my taxi from the airport in New York four years ago. I happened to meet her later that week and we have been close friends ever since. Not only is she a talented award-winning chef, but a very strong, warm and loving woman. As the former president of WCR, Elizabeth looks forward and supports the next generation of chefs without agenda or pretension.
Who are the women in your life that have influenced or motivated you?
My mother, my sisters and family collectively have always instilled that I can achieve whatever I want to which has led me to make all major decisions in my life to date. Without their unwavering support no matter what hair brain idea I have I don’t know where I would be. My first two bosses were strong female leaders, Lyndey Milan and Antoinette Bruno, who both taught me a lot about work ethic and the importance of supporting the industry.

What lessons learnt during training have you always carried with you?
A restaurant relies a lot on the quality of the ingredients. Everyone is integral to its function and deserves respect from the kitchen porter to the reservationist to the deliveryman up to the head chef. Always say please and thank you as they’re the ones that make the cogs turn.

What has been the biggest surprise of your career so far?
To end up actually practicing financial accounting for the Three Blue Ducks. I had only studied accounting because I thought the knowledge would come in handy in business. I met Mark, Jeff and Darren last year in New York when they sat down at the table next to me at a restaurant in Soho. Fast forward almost a year later, I’ve moved back to Sydney and I’m running their books and tucking in with two hands to lobster they caught the night before at the front of the restaurant in Bronte, cooked in Asian spices washing it all down with some riesling.
What is your go-to after-work snack?
Negroni and a slice of stinky cheese.
What current trends do you find exciting?
Casual fine dining. This is something that was done really well in the States and I can see is happening here. Out with the bank breaking price tag and having more fun but still world class dining experiences. Automata has been one of my favorite restaurants since moving back and really represents this.
What was the last, best thing you ate?
Breakfast with my mum at Egg of the Universe. There is something so satisfying and nourishing about pulled lamb on a pile of perfectly roasted veggies for breakfast with your mum.
In your time in the industry, how has the Sydney restaurant scene changed and evolved?
There has been closure of classic fine dining restaurants and much more American influence gearing towards burgers, fried chicken and donuts. Australia is also getting a lot more well-deserved recognition on the International stage in restaurants from Sepia winning One to Watch in World’s 50 Best and the awards coming to Australia next year. This is great to see. There has also been a lot more traffic of international restaurateurs opening up here such as David Chang, Jason Atherton and Heston Blumenthal. 

For further information, please visit womeninhospitality.org.