How I Got Here: Rebecca Mascarenhas

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here Rebecca Mascarenhas

Related tags: Restaurant

Rebecca Mascarenhas, who co-owns the Michelin-starred Elystan Street in Chelsea and Kitchen W8 in Kensington with chef Phil Howard, has more than three decades of industry experience. Next month her first restaurant, Sonny's Kitchen, will close its doors having operated in Barnes for 33 years.

Why restaurants?
It started out on a temporary basis, as a waitress ‘waiting for my real life to start’. And then I realised that I love the business, and everything about restaurants.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I wish someone had told me that you don’t have to do everything yourself. I am a very detail-oriented person. Delegation and trust should be easier for me.

What do you do in your spare time?
Reading; opera, ballet and theatre; myriad old-fashioned hand-craft skills such as knitting, sewing and embroidery.  

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
No real favourite; different restaurants suit different moods and occasions.        

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
Banking! I love figures, they tell such a story.

What motivates you?
The sheer excitement of living in our time, and working with great people.

Where was your last holiday?
California to visit my youngest daughter at university... and check out some great restaurants.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Bob Payton. He showed me that there was an excitement in restaurants that I had never seen before.

What keeps you up at night?
My over-active brain is constantly planning the next day’s list of things to do.

Worst business decision?
Opening a restaurant many years ago when I actually hadn’t done all my homework.

Best business decision?
Opening Sonny’s in Barnes 33 years ago. It was my first restaurant, and a forerunner in the smart neighbourhood restaurant market.

What are you reading at the moment?
The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Pour your heart and soul into learning everything you can about every aspect of the business - from accounting and HR to food and wine - and gather about you people who give you sound advice.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I would reduce some of the regulations surrounding food preparation.

Related topics: People

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