Mary Ann Gilchrist started her professional life in medicine, beginning her training to be a nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary in 1969. This job, however, was not for her and in 1972 she resigned, taking on a variety of different jobs while she worked out her true calling. Whilst running a small electrical shop on St. Michael Street in Oxford, she was approached by a woman who was overseeing the opening of nearby restaurant Jeanie’s and offered the job of wine bar manager. Accepting with enthusiasm, she was soon working at the busy venue, one of the earliest pizza and wine bars outside London. When the chef walked out one day, Mary Ann Gilchrist was left to take over the kitchen, signalling the beginning of a lifetime career as a chef. When asked if she saw this lack of formal training as a deficit, she told The Guardian: “Kids who’ve gone down that route don’t seem to experiment the way I do.”
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