How I Got Here: Rosalind Rathouse

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here: Rosalind Rathouse South African-born founder of London’s Cookery School at Little Portland Street

Related tags: Chef, Culinary art

The South African-born founder of London’s Cookery School at Little Portland Street on realising her dream of becoming a cook, the need to treat staff fairly, and sustainability.

Why cookery schools?
I’ve always had a love of food and wanted to cook! My father always thought I should be a doctor, but cooking was my dream.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I wish that I had been told ‘never do it solo’, it’s so much easier to have someone to share with – in all aspects of the role.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants?
I have so many! But when I go out with friends, I always choose the restaurant, because I cannot bear to spend money on bad food when I could be eating great food for the same amount. 

What motivates you?
Money has never motivated me; it really is doing something that I love doing and changing so many other people’s lives by teaching them to cook.

What keeps you up at night?
Not a lot. I still work in to the early hours of the morning, so come time for bed, I’m tired and fall asleep very quickly.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My husband who died a few years ago, because everything he did was always so well detailed. I met him when I was at school and we influenced one another. I am an eternal optimist, and if I wasn’t, Cookery School at Little Portland Street wouldn’t be here after the Covid-19 lockdown experience.

Coffee or tea?

How often do you check your email?
Very frequently.

How do you let off steam?

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Night on the sofa, I don’t have a lot of time for that treat.

Typical Sunday?
I’m working at the moment.

What was your dream job growing up?
To cook.

Best business decision?
Was probably to open Cookery School - just ‘doing’ it!

Worst business decision?
In retrospect to not ultimately have returned to a former venture, Piemaker, once normality had returned after my mother’s death.  I would like to have seen whether it succeeded or failed!

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Just hang in, and keep trying new things and testing new strategies.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
To treat staff fairly, and to give staff across the board an understanding of the issues pertaining to sustainability. There is a reason for everyone to contribute positively to the issues dogging the hospitality industry in terms of carbon footprint and how to reduce it.


Born in Johannesburg in 1943, Rathouse studied history of Art, English and Classics at the University of Witwatersrand. She relocated to London in the 1960’s to pursue her passion for food, which led to her supplying pies to the Orient Express and cakes to Harrods and Waitrose. Alongside she worked a variety of different jobs including running my husband’s office; and being a PA. At numerous times in her life Rathouse also worked as a teacher, and once operated a cookery school out of her home in South Africa. She launched Cookery School at Little Portland Street in 2002. Today Cookery School has around 7,000 students a year coming through its doors each year to attend courses from cooking camps for teens to the ‘Cook’s Certificate’ for those entering professional kitchens, to chocolate master classes and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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