7 Prominent women share lessons the F&B industry has taught them

Real talk


By Amanda Fung

7 Prominent women share lessons the F&B industry has taught them

The food and beverage industry is unforgiving. Not one person’s experience in it is mirrored in another’s. While it may look like fun and cheer from the outside, it takes serious grit and tenacity to withstand the pressures and invisible tribulations that come with a job in this trade. While this is true for everyone who works or has worked in this field, it’s no secret that women have been known to face deeper and rougher waters when navigating their careers. Yet, the saying “tough times make tough people” rings true as our local F&B scene is now home to an army of admirable women we know and love.

In honour of Women’s History Month, we spoke to seven leading ladies about some lessons and observations their careers in the F&B landscape have shown them.



Head bartender | Three X Co (From April 2024 onwards)

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry
Photo: NZ Phang

“The first lesson I learnt is that this is a hospitality industry and not just a food and beverage industry. It is a combination of many different elements which culminates in the quality of the guest experience being the ultimate goal. While we may serve food and drinks, we are also of service to our guests and our team. Keeping that in mind will help you work a lot better with more people. Secondly, be like water. Bubble with energy when the place is busy, stay calm when the night gets rough, and turn ice cold when dealing with unwanted attention.”



Founder | LinLin Cake

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry

“Despite living in a generation where many believe that women have equal rights, there are still some who judge, disagree, and may not take me seriously just because I am a woman—especially with the way I look. Two lessons that taught me to overcome this are to be confident and to stand my ground on what I believe in. This is how people will treat you with respect. Honestly, just be you and do whatever you want—it’s 2024! I believe life is all about trial and error. As long as you keep moving, you will be higher than wherever you are now. This applies to everyone!”



Art director and stylist

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry
Photo: Studio Guai

“When I look back on how I started 10 years ago, it was really just pure love for photography and having that determination and drive to shoot my subjects in a way that was rarely shot in Malaysia. As cliche as it sounds, I believe working hard, walking the talk and constant learning are genderless. I’d like to think that my work speaks for itself!

“I often work with a team (who happen to be cis-males) and I have never felt more or less than them when on the job. The focus has always been on getting the best results for ourselves and our clients. I’m so grateful to have them as I know they always have my back and I do with them!”



Celebrity Chef and Owner | Ili Pot Steamboat and Grill

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry

Be resilient. Sometimes you will lose out as a talent—I myself have lost out to a lot of other chefs out there—but you just have to keep trying, know what you’re good at and know your worth. Put yourself out there! If anything, I’ve learnt that if I’m authentically myself, it will work out. As I tried to keep up with TikTokers and content creation, I realised that my engagement was the best when I was just being myself. Be unapologetically yourself and people will resonate with you.”



Restaurateur | Alta Pizza, Alta Café, and Studio Restaurant

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry

“After having been in the industry for 18 years, it is clear that—traditionally—women have not had the same job opportunities because of societal expectations and roles regardless of the industry. In 2007, when I started my first café, Food Foundry, the F&B scene as we know it now was still in its infancy, so it was quite difficult to develop any relationships in the industry. Now in 2024, I am happy to say that there are brilliant young women in F&B in all sorts of roles. I hope it continues to grow.”



Chef de Cuisine | Yellow Fin Horse

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry

“I truly do feel that in this current climate, our industry has set the benchmark for gender equality. If anything, what this industry has taught me is that regardless of gender, discipline, resilience, and solid, honest hard work is required for anyone to go the distance. There is a lot of inclination for us to lean into the feminist movement, but as someone in a (what used to be) male-dominated industry, we have truly come a long way. Let’s not forget that we all bleed when we get cuts, and to be truly equal, is to cut through the noise and give credit where credit is due, not because of our gender or other external factors.”



Co-founder | The Hungry Tapir and LaGula

BURO Malaysia Women share lessons from the F&B industry
Smeeton (front row right) and the LaGula team

“Gender differences aside, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and mess up. Showing vulnerability and owning it is the best way to grow in this industry. Having our first restaurant for four years now has really taught me this! We’re still not perfect and would still get a low review but the main thing is to dissect it, address it, and work on it with our team in order to keep growing stronger! And always look to hire more women—we really can do it all…and better, with more empathy!”


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