Louise O’Keeffe and Gemma Ferguson first met in 2007 whilst working at the iconic Theatre Royal Plymouth, where Louise held the position of Head Chef and Gemma later joined the team as Chef de Partie.
Both chefs trained locally at City College Plymouth which led them to embark on European work placements in Sweden. Excelling at their studies, the young chefs went on to win awards for their achievements. Gemma was awarded Young Apprentice of the Year and Louise Plymouth’s Young Woman of Achievement.
Louise was born into a family of entrepreneurs who are passionate about food. From an early age, Louise worked mornings before school and at weekends in her mother’s business, the Hot Potato. She knew the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and was determined to become a professional chef. Louise has gained a lot of experience in a variety of esteemed kitchens including Tanners, Boringdon Park Golf Club and London’s famous Wolseley restaurant.
Louise’s passions aren’t confined to the kitchen, she has delivered live cookery demonstrations at the South West’s largest food and drink festival, Plymouth Flavour Fest. Louise feels local education is vital to the industry and has been a hospitality ambassador, visiting schools around Devon and Cornwall, running workshops and helping passionate school leavers to join the industry.
Gemma’s first taster of the hospitality industry began as a teenager working evenings and weekends in a busy local pub in her hometown, Ivybridge. Gemma knew she wanted to be part of this fast paced environment and her passion to become a chef started at Saltram House, where she became the first catering apprentice to gain employment within the National Trust.
Gemma has always been ambitious and focused on building her career. She has worked hard in the positions she has held in Plymouth hotels and restaurants. Her most recent achievement was competing at the annual Elior awards of excellence culinary competition, where she made the national finals in London and was awarded for showing innovation with local ingredients.
After their first stint working together, Louise and Gemma decided to fulfill their first joint ambition by spending a year backpacking on a round the world trip. The pair worked as chefs along the way learning about unfamiliar foods and different cultures. Whist on their travels, the seed was planted and they became focused on their next joint dream; to put their skills together and start up their own business.
They waited several years for the right opportunity to arise and when The Tudor Rose Tearooms became available on the Barbican in Plymouth, they jumped at the chance!