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Gemma Amor Executive Chef at Ascot Racecourse on cooking her way to the top

Gemma-Amor-Executive-Chef-Ascot-Racecourse

Gemma Amor, the Executive Chef at Ascot Racecourse has worked her way up the ranks within the business for more than 25 years to an incredibly influential leadership role. She is in charge of the entire catering operation at one of the UK’s most prestigious sporting venues, managing fine dining, private boxes and retail for many thousands of guests each month.

We invited Gemma to join our series of interviews with inspiring women around International Women’s Day and to mark Women’s History Month during March.

What are your career highlights to date?

I would say becoming Executive Chef at Ascot Racecourse is my biggest achievement and the ultimate recognition of my hard work to progress my career over the years. I think a close second place would have to be when I was asked to be a part of Her Majesty the Queen: The Official Platinum Jubilee Pageant Commemorative Album as a contributor for its feature on ‘championing women in leadership’. I couldn’t believe it! Having cooked for Her Majesty the Queen previously, and as Patron of the racecourse, it was a particular honour and something I’ll never forget.

What challenges have you had to overcome to get where you are today?

I think for me, being female in a very much all male environment has come with its challenges. Earlier in my career, some people didn’t think it was right that I was so keen to push to the top but I continued to persevere in order to show that I was more than capable, and that gender was irrelevant.

I am also dyslexic, which for any managerial position is a real challenge. While it’s held me back a little and perhaps slowed some things down over the years, I’ve never let it stop me from doing anything.

What is the best advice you’ve been given throughout your career?

I’d say the best advice which I’ve always lived by is never to give up, even when the end goal seems a very long way off. I started my career at Ascot Racecourse as a pot washer but I never let go of the ambition to get to the top and I feel I’ve gained a lot of respect from my teams throughout my career for that. Going from washing dishes to creating dishes for the Royal family and being a pivotal part of one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world (which is a monumental catering operation) is a great feeling.

What advice would you give to newcomers to the sector?

You only get out what you put in. You can’t expect the best opportunities to land in your lap if you’re not prepared to work hard for them. Whatever the goal is, I feel passionately that anyone at the start of their career should hold onto their dreams and not stop until they’ve made them a reality. There are likely to be inevitable setbacks but that’s never the end of the story.

 

Royal Ascot’s fine dining will impress this year with the biggest line-up of top chefs, lead by Gemma Amor.