Women At The Top Awards: Meet Kim Woodward, The Master Chef

We've scoured the UK to find the most inspirational innovators for Marie Claire's Women At The Top Awards, in association with Windows 10 and Freixenet. Meet Kim Woodward, one of the ten game-changers who have shaped 2015.

As the head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s five-star Savoy Grill, Kim Woodward, 34, was the first woman to be appointed in its 126-year history. She was the semifinalist on Masterchef – The Professionals in 2011, and head chef at Ramsay’s Camden restaurant, bar and townhouse, York and Albany, before joining The Savoy in April, where she is responsible for managing a team of 35 chefs.

‘Running one of themost iconic restaurants in London is an honour. I can already feel that I’ve grown as a chef and as a manager.

Every day is a new challenge. We’re constantly tasting foods and creating new menus, so I’m all about having a great team around me to run the restaurant. There’s usually about 20 chefs working in the kitchen at any one time – and it’s up to me to makes sure everything’s perfect. You get thrown in at the deep end; it’s like a rollercoaster of shouting and screaming, hustle and bustle – but that’s what I love.

Being a woman hasn’t held me back. I joined the company as a junior sous chef eight years ago,and that in itself was a huge achievement. But even now I’m in charge, I want to achieve more. You have to set your goals higher and higher. Running a kitchen this big – especially one this male-dominated – sounds intimidating, but you go with the flow. I’m the one who motivates my team when things get stressful, but for me, that’s the best part of the job.

I’m a big believer in mentoring. It’s amazing to watch our five apprentices rise through the rankings. At the end of their three years of training, they become full-time employees. When I started out, I was only 18, and within five years I worked my way up from a beginner to serving 1,000 people a day.

When you work inhospitality you’ve got to love it – or get out. I can work anything from eight to 15 hours a day, five days a week, but I wouldn’t have it any otherway. I eat, sleep and breathe food. I really enjoy butchering meat – I did a whole cow the other day! Our most popular meal is the beef wellington. We once served 100 portions in a single day. That is what it means to be busy.’

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