Eil­ish Maloney

Qantas - - YES, CHEF! - Saint Peter, Syd­ney

“I want my own restau­rant by the time I’m 30. Be­ing fe­male, I’ve al­ways thought I have to work harder than the boys, maybe be­cause I’m only half their size.”

For Valdes Pardo at Bar Pa­trón, one of the big­gest chal­lenges of the job is putting on her game face dur­ing the stress of ser­vice. “I be­come much stronger with lan­guage, much more force­ful,” she says. “With the other chefs, it’s like, ‘Yes, chef!’ but with some other staff I have to make sure I tell them be­fore­hand that they have to do what I say. For some of the wait­ers, it can be dif­fi­cult, go­ing from me be­ing all nice and friendly to ‘You lis­ten to me!’” But, she adds, set­ting aside her mild-man­nered self dur­ing the on­slaught of ser­vice is about lead­er­ship rather than adopt­ing male traits. A sin­gle mother to five-year-old daugh­ter Valentina, Valdes Pardo says an un­der­stand­ing em­ployer and sup­port­ive team are key to her suc­cess. “If I have a prob­lem or my daugh­ter is sick, my team is the best. They’re like my sec­ond fam­ily.”

Al­varez be­lieves the re­cent spot­light on women in the kitchen is a his­toric turn­ing point that will give other women the con­fi­dence to em­bark on a culi­nary ca­reer. “I’ve been lucky to work with lots of fe­male chefs. I’ve al­ways found it cre­ates a kind of recog­ni­tion, a sense that ‘I can do it, too’. Some­times you just need to see some­one to em­u­late to give you that ex­tra push.”

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