Esteemed restaurateur Jeremy King is wearing a “quiet smile” after revealing that gender parity has been achieved in management positions across Corbin & King’s London restaurants.
Changes to management positions across Corbin & King’s six London restaurants have seen Erin McGuiness (pictured, left), formerly assistant general manager at Colbert, take on the position of general manager at Fischers.
McGuiness’ position was left vacant by Michelle Chillingworth (pictured right), who has taken on the general manager position at the Delaunay. Meanwhile former Delaunay general manager Fergal Lee (pictured, centre) has been appointed general manager of the Wolseley. Lee replaces Daniel Craig who has been with the group for 15 years and will take on the general manager position at Corbin & King’s new restaurant Soutine, when it opens in St John’s Wood in 2019.
The group’s existing leadership team includes Ben Whitfield, general manager at Zedel, Shirley Randle, general manager at Colbert and Dilou Haddou, general manager at Bellanger.
Making the revelation in his newsletter King said: “When Chris [Corbin, long-term business partner] and I first came into the business it was very much the preserve of masculinity. Indeed a typical lunch clientele at Le Caprice in the early eighties would have been as much as 90% male and the staff, particularly the kitchen, could be even higher.
“Any woman coming into the restaurant would be made to feel uncomfortable by the majority so we set about correcting that balance and worked really hard to encourage women to feel welcome and entirely on an equal footing in Arlington Street. As it happens this was costly in revenue terms in the short-term because it became clear that, in what was a heavy drinking era, women were much more responsible about consumption! But persevere we did, with a simple credo that one of the fundamentals in creating a truly civilised and sophisticated restaurant is that a woman feels comfortable eating by herself… and it worked.
“Staffing equality was harder and in those days the treatment of female staff in restaurants was often shocking. We were fortunate to be joined by our original ‘HR’ Director Zuleika (Leika) Fennell (we actually call the department P&D – Personnel & Development – because I really can’t look at our people and call them ‘human resource’). Leika lead the way in helping us strive for parity and is now managing director and an industry leader in championing the welcoming of women into the industry and their development as managers – always on merit, never gratuitously. So having realised that the operating London restaurants were now ‘gender balanced’ in their management you will understand my smile…”
At the Delaunay, Chillingworth has joined assistant general manager Lorna MacPherson and Joana Pereira, manager of the Delaunay Counter. Moves within the business will also see Lauren Kerr, 24, take on the role of head chef at Fischer’s having joined the Wolseley as an apprentice at the age of 17.