What was your first job?
A part-time waitress, while studying, at the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli, South Wales.
Why did you want to work in restaurants?
Quite simply, I discovered that this industry would have allowed me to do what I love and provided me with several things I wouldn’t have found in any other industry. I like people, most specifically working with people and meeting new people, facing different challenges every day, making a difference in someone’s life, and finally my love for food.
If you weren’t in the industry, what would you do?
I would probably be a professional volleyball player (my favourite sport), or an interpreter. I always loved learning different languages and wanted to help people communicate.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Diego Masciaga, the master of hospitality. The passion he has in his work is extraordinary and very inspiring. For Diego, every guest is the same; he treats them in the same way, just how it should always be. Thanks to his impeccable knowledge, experience and successful career, I admire and respect him.
Pet hate in the dining room?
When guests snap their fingers to get someone’s attention. We do not allow dogs in a fine dining restaurant.
What’s your best tip for keeping calm under pressure during a busy service?
Take a deep breath, focus on the positives, and don’t forget to smile!
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
“I am vegetarian, but when I am in Scotland I can eat meat and fish”.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
It is hard work, so absorb as much as you can as you will never stop learning. Without passion, sacrifice and determination, you will not go far. Remember that if you truly love this unique industry, you will never work a day in your life.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten in a restaurant?
The Ritz. The food was outstanding, one of the best fine dining experiences I’ve had. However, this was not solely for the food, but for the service, too; watching the waiters effortlessly glide around and perform in such a beautiful dining room was spectacular. I felt like I was in a theatre watching them perform on a stage.
MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu.
If you could serve anyone, who would it be and why?
I would be absolutely honoured to serve Her Majesty The Queen; also Patron of the UK’s most prestigious front-of-house award, the Gold Service Scholarship, which offers the opportunity to inspire, educate and nurture the UK’s finest front-of-house talents. I was privileged to be crowned the winner this year, so this would mean the world to me.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My mum’s cooking and baking, which was typically Ghanaian; in particular jollof rice, a very popular Ghanaian dish.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Thankfully never, touch wood!
Tipple of choice?
Favourite food and drink pairing (the more obscure, the better)?
An authentic lambrusco secco with a margherita pizza, topped with salami or prosciutto. The bright acidity and bubbles of this Italian sparkling red wine cut the fat of the melted cheese and, because lambrusco is typically served lightly chilled, it makes it an ideal refreshing complement; it’s delicious .
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
A simple pasta dish, just with olive oil and Parmesan, or a nice creamy risotto - almost any ingredient can be added to the rice.