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Women in Food: Foodbuy UK's Leanne Turk on Building Culinary Careers

Women in Food: Foodbuy UK's Leanne Turk on Building Culinary Careers

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 Co-cChair of Compass Group UK & Ireland's Women in Food network, Leanne Turk.

How did you discover you enjoyed cooking?

I grew up in a pub and was always helping in the kitchen and soon realised it was an environment I wanted to work in. The buzz of hospitality in general and providing great food and service is what I thrive on!

What was your first job in hospitality?

Gordon Ramsay at the Boxwood Café, London.

Tell us about your current role

As Head of Culinary Development in Foodbuy UK (Compass’ procurement business), I sit with the culinary solutions team, across all the clients and members. My role includes development of culinary concepts for specific clients, working closely with supply chain and the ingredients team on all aspects of product and recipe development.

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

My favourite technique I have learnt this year is building a good fire and cooking openly on it. It’s amazing the flavour you infuse into food using this style and even better if you’re in the great outdoors!

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

Compass is a great inclusive place to work, where you can be your whole self and feel part of a community. We have a great diverse workforce with the same shared passion and values about great food and great service. I have spent 9 and a half years with the company and have progressed in my career into leadership across our business operations, so it really is a brilliant place to realise your potential and foster career progression and learning.

Tell us about Women in Food.

Women in Food includes the senior talent to our frontline operations – so all roles across the business. We have seen growth in the community to attract diversity, nurture our pipeline of talent and be ambassadors for equity and inclusion. Our community have contributed to the creation of the Menopause policy, Domestic abuse policy and supporting learning and development on sexual harassment. We work together, to break bias and stigma on issues and build key relationships between our culinary and non-culinary members to drive our values.

Which female chefs in the industry inspire you?

Angela Hartnett and Clare Smyth.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to still be mentoring the apprentice chefs coming into our business and sitting in a leadership team where I’m empowered to make our food and culinary decisions.

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

I think they are important to push our chefs out of their comfort zones and think on their feet. It’s a very rewarding process to grow ideas and confidence, and you see that spark in chefs - where they are hungry to achieve more!

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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