International Women’s Day – Our Female Leaders

Here at Sauce, we only have to look at our founders, Jo Barnes & Nicky Hancock, and our MD Tess Willmott to feel inspired by the power of strong women. Their wealth of knowledge and experience has driven Sauce forward to become the successful business that it is today, and reminds us all to push ourselves every day. This year, the theme for International womens day is #ChoosetoChallenge, a campaign set up to encourage everyone to call out and challenge gender bias and inequality when they observe it in their daily lives. So in celebration of International Women’s Day this year, we’re showcasing just some of the incredible women we’re lucky enough to work alongside, who are behind the brands and restaurants that we represent. They all continue to challenge themselves, the status quo, and the industries they operate in every day, and we’re proud to tell you a little more about them below.


Hayman’s and Merser: Miranda Hayman is co-owner of both Hayman’s Gin and Merser Rum, and is a champion of women in distilling.  Miranda took over the running of Hayman’s, a fifth-generation family business, alongside brother James, before the duo embarked on a new venture, creating Merser Golden Rum.  Merser captures the best rums from the Caribbean and blends them in London’s only rum blending house: Merser & Co.



Mirabeau: Jeany Cronk is the co-founder of Mirabeau, the multi-award-winning rosé wine and gin brand established by the family who moved from England to the South of France to live their dream of making the best Provence rosé wine.



Sipful: Emily Darwell is co-founder of Sipful canned cocktails with flavours such as Blood Orange Mimosa and Peach Bellini, made using only 100% natural fruit and flavours. She saw an opportunity to create sustainably packaged craft cocktails, that aren’t packed with sugar, for like-minded adventurers to easily transport.



Little Dish: Hillary Graves established Little Dish in 2006 from her kitchen table, frustrated by the lack of healthy fresh food products for toddlers in supermarkets. Little Dish provides award-winning, nutritionist-approved and convenient meals for 1 to 5 year olds, and is stocked by all major UK food retailers.



MexGrocer:  Katya Torres de La Rocha is owner and CEO of online Mexican produce retailer, MexGrocer – the one-stop-shop for Mexican ingredients in the UK. A Mexican herself, Katya was frustrated by the lack of Mexican produce and the fair price Mexican suppliers were being offered for their artisan products so decided to build a model to rectify this. Based on the ethos of fairly paid, traceable produce, MexGrocer is used by some of the best restaurants in the country: from Annabel’s Mayfair to Ella Canta and Breddos Tacos, to small taquerias like La Chingada. As more of us turn to online food shopping, it’s become popular with home cooks, selling its tortilla presses, variety of hot sauces, and specialist ingredients like ancho chillies, maize flour, cactus leaves and more.



Sauce Shop:  Pam Digva is the co-founder of Sauce Shop, craft condiment producer based in Nottingham, founded in 2014.  Sauce Shop offers a range of award-winning sauces using fresh ingredients, and was founded after Fran and her family felt disappointed with the range of sauces available to them in supermarkets. Having previously worked for large food manufacturing businesses, including Adelie Group, Hain Daniels (New Covent Garden Soup) and Kerry Foods, Pam is used to working in operations-led chilled food businesses with a focus on turning innovation around quickly. With a background in new product development, innovation and food trends, Pam is always looking for the next big thing when it comes to sauce and this year, they launched a completely unsweetened ketchup and a range of cook-in sauces designed for the busy cook.



Nutshell: Saudi Arabian Marwa Alkhalaf is the Chef Patron of Iranian restaurant, Nutshell in Covent Garden, which opened in 2019. Having trained as an engineer, she met her husband and fell in love with his Iranian culture and cuisine, before deciding to retrain at Le Cordean Blue as a chef and open her own restaurant. Marwa has designed an ever-changing special menu full of the very best of her favourite plates from the fragrant and floral North to southernmost tip of Iran.



Restaurant Jöro: Stacey Sherwood-French, Director – Wife and business partner of celebrated chef, Luke French, Stacey runs everything from operations and front of house to partnerships at their Sheffield based restaurant, Jöro. The successful husband and wife team are steadily changing the culinary landscape of their hometown, with their successful restaurant, and two other sister projects, with much more coming in Spring 2021.



Marianne Lumb (Finish and Feast): Hailing from Lancashire, chef Marianne shot to fame through appearances on both MasterChef and Great British Menu. She then set up her eponymous and hugely popular restaurant, Restaurant Marianne, a 14-cover fine dining haunt in Notting Hill. Marianne’s meal kits are now available on Finish and Feast, the UK’s fine dining delivery platform, who are proud to work closely alongside her to bring culinary masterpieces to people all around the UK.



Rick Stein Group: Jill Stein – Co-founder of the Rick Stein restaurants, including the 1975 Seafood Restaurant, Jill Stein is a leading woman in hospitality; shooting to success at a time when the world of restaurants was incredibly male-dominated. She is a hugely successful interior designer, and is Director of Design across the restaurants, rooms and portfolio of self-catering properties. She lives in Padstow and oversees the creation of her Porthdune homeware range, in addition to her role as Director of the company.



Cornerstone: Francesca Acorn Operations manager at Cornerstone in Hackney, Francesca works in all aspects of back and front of house operations, including opening Cornerstone, accountancy, partnerships, reservations, charity involvement and events. Tom Brown says of Francesca’s value within the Cornerstone team: ‘Francesca is the glue that keeps Cornerstone what it is, as I’ve said many times: there would be no restaurant without her’.



Cornerstone: Kelly Cullen – Pastry Chef Kelly Cullen has been an invaluable Cornerstone team member since the beginning and has won a loyal following thanks to her showstopping and ever-evolving deserts. Regarded by many as one of the most accomplished pastry chefs in the country, Kelly has already achieved well beyond her 24 years.



Pennyhill Park: Sarah Frankland – Head Pastry Chef and Chocolatier at Exclusive Collection’s Pennyhill Park, Sarah Frankland oversees the hotel’s award-winning afternoon tea. The last few years have seen her become a finalist on Bake Off: The Professionals and recognised as Pastry Chef of the Year at the Craft Guild of Chefs. When not working on new sweet creations, Sarah is mentoring the next era of pastry chefs, helping them develop their own skills and techniques and giving them the confidence to take on the culinary world.