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03 Jan 2024

Women in Food: Compass Group's Gemma Evans on her industry inspirations and the importance of culinary competitions

Women in Food: Compass Group's Gemma Evans on her industry inspirations and the importance of culinary competitions

In 2022, Compass launched ‘Our Social Promise’ – a commitment to support a million people with opportunities and change their lives through job creation, education, training, community and charitable engagement by 2030. The D&I agenda plays a critical role in this target, to create an environment where everyone can thrive. As part of this work, Compass has a number of networks, run by colleagues for colleagues.

Here we hear from the Chair of Compass Group UK & Ireland's Women in Food network and Culinary Lead - Projects Gemma Evans.  

How did you discover you enjoyed cooking?

I grew up with my mum being an exceptional cook, so this is where my love for food came from - the home stove. I then experienced working on prestigious film sets when I was quite young and I got a taster of hospitality and fell in love with great food and fast-paced service!

What was your first job in hospitality?

Zilli Fish Restaurant, Aldo Zilli, Piccadilly London.

Tell us about your current role.

I’m responsible for developing new concepts and menus, which can be found in the workplaces of almost 200 UK businesses. My day-to-day responsibilities include recipe and concept development, working with suppliers in partnership, mentoring chefs, while shifting cultural behaviours in the workplace. Part of my role is to create strategies to reduce food waste and find great local suppliers to support our Climate Net Zero ambitions.

Do you have a favourite ingredient, technique, or dish that you could tell us about?

Recently I have been experimenting with fermenting and the creation of zero waste through utilising all the ingredients or an animal carcass. The dehydrator has become my go to for everything!

What do you enjoy about being part of Compass Group UK & I?

Compass is a great inclusive place to work, where people are at the heart of the business. You can bring your authentic self to work and feel part of a community on a global stage. We have a diverse workforce with the same shared passion and values about great food and great service. I have spent 13 years with the company and have progressed in my career into a leadership role and worked in some very prestigious venues. I am currently doing my level 5 operational management, alongside my day-to-day role and I am very proud to be part of the Global Culinary Forum.

Tell us about Women in Food.

Women in Food is run for colleagues by colleagues, to support the women in our business in all roles. It is fuelled by Passion, People and Purpose. The community has a strong commitment to innovation and excellence, enriching the environment for professionals to thrive and grow. Our community allows employees to be a part of a dynamic team that values diversity, fosters creativity, and encourages continuous learning. Discovering unparalleled opportunities for career development at all levels and make an impact on a global scale. I am really proud of my role in Women in Food and hope we are inspiring the next generation of talent.

Which female chefs in the industry inspire you?

Clare Smyth and Monica Galetti.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself working in a global position, still mentoring, and implementing projects. Working with our culinarians and teams globally, carving out a future for the next generation and still leading from the front with D&I initiatives.

Why are culinary competitions important and what do you enjoy about them?

Having competed in many competitions throughout the years myself, it is inspiring when you win! I think Culinary competitions offer a thrilling arena for passionate chefs to showcase their creativity, and skills. These events serve as a catalyst for culinary innovation, pushing boundaries elevating the standards of the industry. Beyond the thrill of the competition, these events provide a platform for networking, learning, and sharing best practices, contributing to the overall growth and development of the culinary community.

International Salon Culinaire is open for entries until 23 February. Find out more about all the competitions taking place as part of this year's event and more details on how to enter at


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