In 2010, Fiona Gale was sitting in her kitchen, cooking a chicken.
The 59-year-old divorcee had forfeited her share in a successful catering business, Artus & Gale, to look after her two young children.
Now they were grown up, she was considering what to do next.
“The catering business was great,” she recalls. “From hosting celebrity parties in Paris to a European Royal wedding — business was busy.
“But my children were young. I was missing bedtime and school runs. I wanted to be there for them.”
As the scent of roast chicken filled her Highgate kitchen, she hatched the idea of launching a “chicken” restaurant.
“It was the perfect way to get back into the food business,” she says.
“I was sitting there and realised there’s nowhere in London to get good chicken. It’s a huge gap in the market.”
Gale spent four months cooking, tasting and marketing the concept before securing a close on £1million investment — from 10 investors — for her Whyte & Brown restaurant in Carnaby Street.
She adds: “It’s always a risk setting up a business in the food industry, but I knew it was a good concept with a strong team of investors. Without a good team, the idea won’t go far.
“It’s a tough industry and finding an available property, without a ridiculous premium in central London, was the biggest challenge. It was very difficult, but we’re here now and the restaurant is doing a lot better than expected.
“We have really exciting plans to expand in cities with big universities across the UK — including Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol.”
From its interior design to marketing plan, Gale has built the business. But her passion stems from “feeding people,” she says. “I just love it. I have every Jewish mother’s dream job.”