Young, female, and the boss: a look at three London, Ont., entrepreneurs

International Women’s Day March 8 is a good time to look at the inspiring women around the world, and what better place to start than right here in London, Ont.

Global News spoke to three female entrepreneurs in the Forest City who are paving their own paths.

Angela Murphy, 34 – Grace Restaurant

“I Just wanted to create a space more in line with my food philosophy, my social ethics, my community-minded spirit, and a great place for talented young chefs to come and work,” Angela Murphy said.

Murphy, 34, is the owner and executive chef of Grace Restaurant on Dundas Street in downtown London.

The restaurant opened its doors nine months ago, serving modern Canadian cuisine utilizing the farm-to-table approach, relying on locally-sourced ingredients.

“We are working with local produce, whole products — not stuff out of a box,” she said. “Everything we do is made from scratch … we also do a good amount of stuff in-house — like we make our own ricotta and cure our own fish.”

Having worked in the food industry for many years, she talked about the importance of moving away from the ‘machismo culture’ of running a kitchen.

“Everyone should have a chance to contribute something, and develop and grow,” Murphy said. “This is an art form, it’s not a factory, so let’s not treat our staff like they are pumping out food for someone else’s benefit.”

Working with a team of 18, part of the supportive environment she tries to foster includes making sure everyone, including service staff, is paid above regular minimum wage. The majority of her staff are also employed full time.

“They feel like their ideas are heard. We’re interested in taking a few risks outside of the typical London menu,” she said. “We are willing to do other stuff, and I think it’s really catching on and that draws in a certain set of talent.”

The name Grace comes from Murphy’s grandmother, whose ‘ethics’ and ‘perspective’ are at the heart of the restaurant, Murphy says.

Murphy admits that starting a restaurant was not something she thought she would ever have the resources to do.

“The whole process was stressful, exhausting, very hard, not what I imagined, and no matter what you think you’re ready for, you’re not.”

“I wrote a business plan, I found investors, I had some of my own capital, and I made it work.”

Looking to the future, Murphy is encouraged by the number of people leaving Toronto for more affordable places to live, adding people don’t have to sacrifice culture, art, and cuisine in moving to London.

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