Male and female chef preparing food

When your white jacket is on, nothing else matters, you are respected

Published on : 8/1/19
  • I started cooking from when I was 15 when I answered a cookery competition. I dropped out of 3rd level education and instead pursued a 2 year college course in professional cookery.

    This blog was first published on the Sodexo UK & Ireland blog.

    I went on to work in 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants in Ireland for the first 10 years of my career. 

    After this joined Sodexo at the Bord Bia - the Irish Food Board contract. In this role I was involved in lots of trade shows and high profile culinary events across Ireland including working with Derry Clarke, our Michelin star ambassador. 

    After 10 years at Board Bia I moved to my current role. During the last 5 years I have had the opportunity to be involved with a huge range of events and initiatives such as; Ballymaloe Litfest, cooking master classes, Inspirefest, the Quality of Life conference, Global Chef, judging at Salon Culinaire UK & Ireland, organising Salon Culinaire Ireland and the training and development of chefs.

    While I’ve been working for Sodexo I’ve been able to study for and complete a Bachelor of Science in Education & training as well as a Master’s of Science in Health & Safety. I have also always been heavily involved with the National Craft Forum. 

    As well as the opportunity to further my education, working for Sodexo has given me more regularity of working hours, compared to my time working in the hotel and restaurant industry. This regularity has enabled me to balance my work, study and family life. 

    I’ve also had the opportunity to get involved with lots of great things, been able to progress in my career and experience my roles changing and evolving over time. 

    I’m often asked about being a female executive chef, in 2016 the Hotel and Catering review named me as one of the only two female Executive Craft Chef’s in Ireland. But for me, when your white jacket is on, nothing else matters, you are respected. 

    People, who want to be chefs, whether they are male or female, are very driven but making certain choices about your career along the way will help you to reach higher levels of seniority. The best piece of advice I can give to those starting out in the industry is to get your hours in, hone your craft and find a culinary mentor who inspires you and builds your confidence as these elements are valuable assets in helping shape your career.

    When you are working in contract catering, the career opportunities available to you are dependent on the diversity of activities within the company you work for. My current role is incredibly different from my previous role and I know Sodexo has the scope for there to be progression to another role which is completely different again.
    For me Sodexo has given me the balance I needed, enabling me to study, advance my career and spend time with my family. 

    Find out more about a career with Sodexo and our Food Services

    Chef Julianne Forrestal is the Craft Development Chef for Sodexo Ireland. Her current role focuses on the development of culinary skills within our business and she strives to elevate the offer in everything she does by incorporating quality locally sourced produce cooked simply and with care. She is a passionate advocate of local and sustainably sourced Irish produce handled with care. This is translated in her mission to integrate the Origin Green Charter across our sites. Origin Green is Ireland’s national sustainability program which links government, suppliers and food companies in a mission to drive sustainability. It recognizes that our future and food are inextricably linked and is now fully embedded in to our organisation. Chef Forrestal is currently driving verification by setting measurable achievements in key areas pertaining to reducing environmental impact, serving local communities and contributing to the protection of Ireland’s rich natural resources.

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