10 minutes with: Sabrina Gidda

The  Staff Canteen

Two time Roux Scholarship finalist Sabrina Gidda is the head chef of new Italian restaurant Bernardi’s, opening this month.

We chat to Sabrina about what to expect from the restaurant, the Roux Scholarship and what she thinks of the amount of spotlight on women in the industry.

Sabrina ended up in the hospitality industry by accident while studying for her degree in Fashion PR and Marketing. She took a part time job at a café while at University and when the chef injured himself she stepped in to finish the service. 

She said: “It was only then that I really discovered how much I loved working in professional kitchens. I’ve always adored food, there is a real joy in taking amazing ingredients and creating something delicious.”

At 21, after finishing her degree, Sabrina started as head chef of Draft House gastro pub in London. She then went on to work for Restaurant Associates, first as head chef at Sanctuary Spa in Covent Garden before moving on to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. While at Restaurant Associates Sabrina made the Roux Scholarship finals in both 2014 and 2015.

She said: “Being a Roux Scholarship finalist twice and being a part of such a prestigious competition has been wonderful. The competition is recognised as being tough, but the support behind entrants from The Roux Family, judges and sponsors is incredible.

“You can really feel them wishing you to be the best you can be. The competition has enabled me to meet so many talented people in the industry, people I perhaps never would have met otherwise. That’s very special and is exactly what the competition is about.”

Sabrina was the only woman in the Roux Scholarship this year, and hopes to see more woman applying for the competition in the future.

She explained: “To be the only woman in the competition this year is bittersweet. I look forward to supporting all of this year’s entrants in their Scholarship journey. Being a part of the competition is special, from start to finish.”

Despite being the only woman in the competition, Sabrina does not feel the industry is lacking in female role models. She said: “There are many phenomenally talented women in our industry, many of whom are now being widely recognised for their contributions to hospitality across the board.

“I think it is important for people to be recognised for their skills in the industry and for chefs to have a broad collective of role models to inspire them.”

After three and a half years at Restaurant Associates, Sabrina decided it was time to move on. Explaining her decision, Sabrina said: “I had a brilliant time at Restaurant Associates. They provided so much support throughout my time with them. The investment in opportunities for chefs at RA is unlike anything I have ever seen and they really nurture an environment for culinary development.

“The move from RA was only ever about returning to restaurants and being back in a commercial business where I could cook for customers – not just specifically for my client in a contracted environment.”

Sabrina made the choice to leave Restaurant Associates after being contacted about a new restaurant opening and being invited to meet the owners.

She said: “Once I met the owners I was excited by the project and the opportunity to be involved in the opening of a new neighbourhood restaurant.”

Most of Sabrina’s professional cooking has been modern European with a classic French undertone, but when cooking at home she gravitates towards Italian cooking and says she is looking forward to cooking the food she loves to eat.

She said: “I’m looking forward to cooking some really delicious, accessible food at Bernardi’s. The menus will change often and really lend themselves to providing something for any time of the day, from small plate snacking (perfect for your cocktails) to more substantial dishes perfect for sharing.

“I am looking forward to Bernardi’s being known as a brilliant neighbourhood restaurant, with a menu people really want to return to.”

For the near future Sabrina’s plans are to start growing Bernardi’s with her new team. She said: “I am excited about Bernardi’s and cooking with my new brigade- I’m sure this will keep me busy!

“I look forward to continuing my culinary travels and meeting some of our amazing suppliers next year.”

By Sam Wright 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd September 2015

10 minutes with: Sabrina Gidda