Women in Hospitality- Karena Armstrong

Karena Armstrong, The Salopian Inn

Karena Armstrong, Managing Director of Culinary Delights
The Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale

Photo Credit: Andre Castellucci


1. How did you get into hospitality?

I was working FOH and the chef commented that as a country girl I should be able to cook, so could I help out in the kitchen. I loved it, the chaos was perfect for me.


2. What do you love about the restaurant industry?

I think our ability to constantly grow, innovate and create is valuable. Creativity and your own vision is what makes or breaks you, so when you have moments of getting it right with your team, they are really special.


3. Can you tell us a bit about your restaurant?

Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale, is a regional garden to table restaurant, serving ethically sourced meat and seafood, loads of gin and a comprehensive local and international cellar.


4. What is one of your most memorable dining experiences?

It is still French Laundry many years ago. It has just stayed with me, that beautiful farmhouse and exquisite food that was beyond perfect. I can recall very clearly what I ate and it is over 20years ago.


5. What restaurant is on your must-visit list this year?

Restaurant Orana, I always go at least once a year. It is such a good dining experience and there is always a new ingredient or flavour. Jock always takes you on a journey.


6. What is your 'old favourite' restaurant that you often revisit?

Fino most definitely, for me David Swaine is such a beautiful and thoughtful cook. I always feel so nourished in a decadant way eating his food.


7. What do you love about this restaurant?

Sharon Romeo has created a culture of great service, your wine glass is never empty!


8. What is your favourite dish at this restaurant?

David served chicken livers for breakfast at Fino Willunga, what a way to start a day!


9. What is your favourite dish at your restaurant?

So simple but I love really good salads, where the leaves all have their own flavour profile and the rocket has the heat of horseradish. Its such a small detail on the menu but I always thinks it speaks volumes about the cooks in the kitchen.


10. Can you share an “Insider Tip” for dining at your restaurant?

Book, really please book! Bring a group of friends, do a gin tasting and then sit on Table 10 and take the time to have a long lunch.



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