Meet the women behind Straight To The Source

This International Women’s Day, we get to know the talented women that make up the Straight To The Source team

Straight To The Source is a team of powerful, inspiring women with a wealth of knowledge and experience behind them. A collective of thought leaders and food experts, our team knows a thing or two about making it as a woman in the foodservice industry.

This International Women’s Day, we get to know the talented women that make up the Straight To The Source team: (clockwise from top left) Tawnya Bahr; Lucy Allon; Amy Colli; Elena Duggan; Diana Williams; Josette Frost; and Anita Connors.

What has been your career highlight (so far)?

Lucy: I can’t pick just one! A proud moment would be being invited to present a dinner showcasing Australian food at James Beard House in New York in 2001. Career highlights are co-founding and building up Appetite for Excellence, Australia’s most prestigious awards for young chefs, waiters and restaurateurs; and owning and operating three highly awarded restaurants and managing an incredible team of people, many of whom have gone on to establish their own successful food and hospitality businesses. And, of course, I’m incredibly proud of what we have built with Straight To The Source, the work that we do and the amazing team we have. It is a privilege to work with them each and every day. 

Anita: Founding the Women In Foodservice Awards in 2017 while working as the editor of foodservice magazine. The awards program ran for several years, and celebrated the impressive achievements and diverse talents of women in Australia’s foodservice and hospitality industries, who have often been overlooked for recognition.

Tawnya: I have had many highlights throughout my 25 years in the industry: developing a condiment product range from concept to market, setting up a warehouse and owning a distribution company and then selling it; and being the recipient of the 2017 Innovation and Entrepreneurship award was also very cool. Straight To The Source is a big highlight too. Honestly, I’m just so grateful to work with extraordinary people and in an industry I love. To me, that’s a highlight that happens over and over.

Diana: Outside the food and hospitality sector, but my proudest career moment was working with Jimmy and Jane Barnes on ‘Home of Hope’ with Channel Seven and the Flinders Medical Centre in November 2006. We built and fitted out a home close to the hospital as part of a fundraiser for the NeoNatal unit. The cause was close to Jimmy and Jane’s hearts having two premature babies. With close to $300k being raised after the sale of the home that could purchase four new NeoNatal cribs and upgrade existing equipment, I know that day we created a future for so many premature babies and the equipment still operates today.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Josette: Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage - Brene Brown.

Amy: Listen actively, and only give advice if asked for it.

Elena: Find common ground, we all can connect on some level, and work with others' strengths! 

Diana: It’s not the mistake that matters, it’s how you recover that counts. Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.

What makes you feel empowered?

Josette: Swimming in the bay in winter and my family.

Tawnya: My personal relationships with family and close friends. These feed my soul.

Elena: Knowledge, skills, positive impact, community and other women!

Diana: Belief that my passion and knowledge delivers the best customer experience some people have ever known. That buzz empowers me when I see what comes naturally to me have such a huge impact, it’s something I’d like to bottle.

What’s your favourite way to relax?

Lucy: Ocean swimming.

Tawnya: Candle-making, and going to a farmers market and then cooking with the fresh ingredients at home for my family.

Amy: Cooking, and stand-up paddle boarding

Diana: Sipping champagne or working in the garden (both on a great day!)

If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Lucy: Does artisan and farmhouse cheeses and red wine count as a dish?!

Josette: Apple tarte tatin with really really good cream and caramel pushed right to the edge; or a prawn baguette with marie rose sauce.

Anita: Laksa in all its rich and spicy forms.

Elena: Some version of whole crispy fish with sweet chili, or chili crab - ideally with a fresh and vibrant salad. Or Nasi Goreng!

Who is a woman that inspires you?

Josette: My granny who is 98 and still has a great chat with me about rugby and cricket.

Anita: Jill Dupleix. The woman is a powerhouse of ideas, passion and charm. Her support for the Australian food and beverage industry is as boundless and impressive as her body of work as a writer, cookbook author and tv presenter. A true inspiration.

Tawnya: I have so many women that inspire me each and every day. My mum was a huge inspiration throughout my life; my girlfriends, and my daughter Ellen inspire me beyond belief. As a female business owner and chef I’ve always admired chefs Dominic Crenn and Gabrielle Hamilton in America, and Alla Wolf Tasker here in Australia.  

Amy: There are two women that inspire me, and I am lucky enough to now be working with them! Lucy Allon and Tawnya Bahr inspire me by the way that they live life with integrity, professionalism, warmth and determination to raise the profile and success of our agri- and foodservice community. 

Can you recall a time you’ve had to overcome a bias or challenge in your career? What did you learn from the experience? 

Lucy: I worked for one hospitality business that was very male-led. Women weren’t generally considered for management positions, it was assumed that it was not a career path for women. I had to work twice as hard to be acknowledged and considered. What I learnt is my answer to the next question…  

Anita: I have changed direction and focus several times over my career. Each time it has been the right decision, however it hasn’t been without difficulty and moments of discouragement. This process has helped me trust my gut and work hard for new opportunities.

Tawnya: It’s not always easy being the only female in the kitchen. When you’re a bit older, it can be even more challenging. I started my first business when I was 29 years old and, being female and having an American accent, let’s just say it was at times very challenging and a disadvantage. I always say if someone has a bias or is unreasonably difficult, I’ll just pick up my bucket and spade and move to another sandbox. Life’s short, diversity is key and I don’t tolerate that type of attitude.

Elena: I've been told several times, I'm too emotional or too sensitive, very rarely by women or those under my leadership and guidance. I choose to use my emotional intelligence and being vulnerable with others as a superpower.  Sharing your vulnerabilities is powerful!

What would you say to the next generation of women coming up in the foodservice industry?

Lucy: Be bold, speak up, be seen; don’t be afraid of communicating what you need from your employer to be supported and successful in your role.

Josette: If you love it, it will be a wonderful journey and you will meet and work with all types of people and it’s a great industry. 

Anita: Know and trust your worth. Never stop learning. And don’t underestimate the value of a good mentor.

Amy: Trust your unique qualities – women can be warm and caring but also bold and confident in our abilities and in our opinions. It's time to trust yourself and your voice! 

Elena: Be absolutely yourself, be kind to yourself and others, respect your ingredients and their source, make delicious food that you would love to eat!

Diana: Learn, refine and strive to always improve what makes you unique and nurture those qualities. Be yourself in a world where so many others swim with the tide… Be the one that stands out swimming upstream, with confidence but not arrogance.

Read more about each team members background and experience here:

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