International Women's Day: 9 restaurant leaders in Edmonton to celebrate

Mar 8 2022, 10:38 pm

Edmonton has many impressive women working in the tough but highly rewarding restaurant industry.

There needs to be a passion for it, and if that passion, talent, and knowledge are there, the opportunity should be too.

In what was once a male-dominated industry regarding management roles, Edmonton now has an impressive group of womenĀ leading the change in the restaurant business.

Behind the bar, in management, in the kitchen, on the dining room floor, in the office, or otherwise, it’s important to recognize the hard work it takes and the accomplishments because of it.

Here are just a few of the female restaurant leaders we aim to shed light on and celebrate here inĀ Edmonton.


Maya Richmond, Co-owner

Maya Richmond/Padmanadi

Maya Richmond moved to Canada when she was 15 and started working at her family’s restaurant. Initially, there was no staff, and she and her family ran the entire operation.

Padmanadi was successful, and the family soon opened a second location — an achievement Richmond considers her greatest accomplishment.

Having built a customer base over the last 20 years to the point where we felt the demand to expand across the city brings a lot of pride in what we do every day,” Richmond told Dished in an email.

The Workshop Eatery

Sandra St.George, Manager
Jamie Ede, Chef de Cuisine


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Sandra St.George has been in the industry since she was 18, and she feels “very lucky and grateful” for her experiences.

I have ended up working with wonderful groups of men, women, and people who have respected me, mentored me, and [who have] been happy to guide me through my career,” St.George told Dished.

Even though her experience has been positive, she still sees the other side and the flaws in the system.

I still notice more male representation at the highest levels of the industry,” she said.

“I feel like this is probably caused by a variety of institutionalized sexist stereotypes that created the illusion that women are unfit for corporate leadership roles.”

Jamie Edi feels the challenges of being a woman in this industry constantly.

Every day is spent constantly proving that I deserve the position that I have,” said Edi.

“Almost my entire career, I have worked with more males than females, I have watched countless males be in forms of power, but I have also watched females hold their own in their respective position.”

Edi says that social media has played a major role in an industry shift for women in a restaurant role.

Social media has really helped facilitate this shift in the industry by allowing us to present ourselves and to be seen on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

“Promoting ourselves to the world based not only on appearance but our knowledge.”

Woodshed Burgers

Melissa Gaudry-Keen, Manager


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Woodshop Burgers is only a couple of years old, and Melissa Gaudry-Keen has already gone from server to manager. She’s been in the restaurant industry for 20 years and definitely noticed a glass ceiling for women, but she sees the tide turning.

“You must be confident in your ability and know your worth,” she said to Dished in an email.

“Luckily, I feel the tide turning from when I was just a young girl in the dish pit to today. Experience is a virtue, and it’s a breath of fresh air to be heard.”

RGE RD Restaurant and The Butchery by RGE RD

Caitlin Fulton, Co-owner and Director of Operations


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Caitlin Fulton’s first real restaurant job was as a busier, and now she has her own restaurant and place within the industry. Along the way, there were times she was a lone woman making her own way.

“I started at a time when sexual harassment was really normalized and laughed off in restaurants, Fulton told Dished in an email.

“As a young server, I was on the receiving end from co-workers and customers alike. Looking back, it seems crazy what we put up with, what was passed off as part of the job.”

“I know that this behaviour is pervasive in all kinds of industries, but those in service fields are particularly vulnerable. The nature of the job — to be in service of others — doesn’t often allow individuals to have much of a voice when there is indiscretion or blatant mistreatment,” she added.

Fulton is seeing a change in the industry for the better but hopes to see that reality reflected everywhere.

“The students entering culinary arts programs are young women, but the majority of TV chefs and personalities are middle-aged men,” Fulton said.

“I think media representation needs to catch up with the industry and can be more reflective of reality.”

OEB Breakfast Co

Kelly Ramsey, Head Chef at Kelly Ramsey
Kyla Jackson, General Manager at 124 Street

Seeing the challenges women face led Ramsey to find motivation within herself to get to where she is now.

“Being competitive and believing in what you can do and having people around that believe in you are great factors to help you succeed,” she told Dished.

This spirit made her the first woman to be a head chef at OEB.

Kyla Jackson, a GM at a different OEB location, knows that women have traditionally only been in serving and bartending roles. She hopes that’s changing, and for her, it’s led to major career accomplishments, especially through the pandemic.

“I needed to hire and train pretty much a whole new team, going into our busiest time of year,” Jackson told us.

“We were able to set new sales records, grow our space and have a really successful summer.”

The Greenhouse

Weronika Kundera, Director of Operations

Weronika Kundera/The Greenhouse

Because Weronika Kundera’s mom and aunt founded three trendy spots on Whyte Ave during its heyday, she has been in the restaurant industry for as long as she can remember. There were not necessarily challenges for Kundera to find success, but there were for others in the industry to accept it.

She sees a shift in the restaurant industry, but with a grain of salt. “I do believe there is a shift happening simply due to raising awareness,” said Kundera. “However, I still feel that there is a shock value in seeing a woman in leadership.”

Buco Pizzeria and Vino Bar

Jessica Rivers, General Manager

Like so many people in the restaurant industry, Jessica Rivers started at a young age. In the beginning, she didn’t recognize gender inequality.

As I began to work my way up, I discovered I would sometimes get treated differently because I was a woman,” Rivers told Dished in an email.

“There have been times I haven’t gotten jobs because of this and have people comment that I got the position because of looks and not my qualifications.”Ā 

Rivers is seeing more strong leaders than ever before, and now, she is one of them doing work she can be proud of.

It is about the small daily wins that help me grow into a better manager and a better person,” she said.

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