Gizzi Erskine on making it, Plan B and the food she REALLY hates…

Gizzi Erskine, the chef, food writer and TV presenter, talks to us about what it's like to fulfill your dreams, her Twitter addiction and the food she really, really hates.

Working with food for a living… is it as amazing as it sounds?

I love everything about my job, and how varied it is from day to day. There are days where I’ll be working at a huge food event, organising food take-over events or a new pop-up restaurant, or days when I’ll be writing for my column, doing recipe developments or working on a photoshoot (with great photographers and settings). Unfortunately this means, obscenely early mornings and working long hours, which isn’t so great.

Describe your typical working day.
I don’t have a ‘typical’ day as such, each day varies but recently I’ve been spending a lot of time writing and working on my column for The Sunday Times Magazine, and organising food events. Most days I speak to my suppliers and go to the market to pick up some ingredients for recipe development. This also means that I spend a lot of time hosting dinner parties for friends and neighbours with all the food I’ve made.

Who inspires you?
There are so many empowering women, but my role model would have to be my mum. She is just such a strong and incredible woman to have raised three kids on her own, teach us about work ethic and good morals, and still make incredibly good food. She’s amazing, and one of the main reasons I am who I am today.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Always be yourself” – and I learnt this the hard way, because every time I hadn’t been myself or tried to be more like someone else, or how I thought someone wanted me to be, it never ended well.

Your PA is dashing out on a snack run – what do you order?
Definitely not fridge cold sandwiches! I hate those. I’m not usually fussy, so I’d usually order sushi, or a burger, something really proper.

What did you buy with your first big pay cheque?
A Chanel purse!

We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – do you manage it?
I’m very lucky and privileged to be where I am right now. Work often takes over and takes up a lot of my time, not leaving me with enough social time. I get complaints from a lot of friends and family who have become really annoyed at the lack of time I spend with them. I’m trying to work on getting the balance right.

How would your colleagues describe you?
Impatient. Busy. Very hard working. Often distracted. Always willing to get involved, be hands on and part of the team.

Tell us your five-year goal.
I’d love to work on a television show that’ll allow me to really demonstrate who I am; all the different sides of me, what I like, and don’t like, my processes of cooking and everything that goes into it.

What are your views on social media?
I love Instagram (it’s so much fun) but I think I’m addicted to Twitter! I use it socially and for work; it’s really helpful to keep up with everything and everyone, but it can get a bit frustrating when you want a bit of alone/private time.

What are your handbag essentials?

Make-up. Purse. Phone. Keys. And Oyster card.

What advice would you give someone trying to break into your industry?
Study hard and keep learning; there’s always something new to learn or discover. I always say that nobody deserves anything, so work hard at what you want. Be in it a restaurant or catering school.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a computer games programmer. I loved computer games and doodling – I used to draw Mario Brothers everywhere!

How did you get to where you are today?
I worked at a restaurant to gain experience and trained at a famous catering school (Leith’s School of Food and Wine in 2003). I graduated at the top of my class, and went on to work at BBC Good Food magazine.

What are your workwear wardrobe staples?
A stretchy bodycon dress that I wear mainly when I’m working at events, which is very comfy and great to move around in and not too restricting which helps. But if I’m cooking I’d be in my whites.

What’s your plan B?
There is no plan B! This is it. I’m dedicated and driven and know that if I keep my head down and work hard, I’ll achieve what I want and get to where I want to be.

Looking for more career inspo? It’s not too late to book tickets for Marie Claire’s @ Work Live,

in association with Cointreau and Next. A one-day event on 23 April

2016, featuring advice, tips and inspiration from incredible speakers.

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