Karen Westfield, Chief Operating Officer
The Sam Prince Hospitality Group - Mejico, Indu and Kid Kyoto, NSW
1. How did you get into hospitality?
I started my career in HR and recruitment and quickly realised it wasn't for me. Then in my mid-20's decided to bite the bullet and do something I'd always dreamed of. I went from being the Recruitment Manager at a large consultancy to pulling pints in a London pub - and loved every second. I guess I must have been quite good, I was an AM within 6 months and a GM within a year. The pub was actually an All Bar One which at the time was at the forefront of the gastro pub revolution in the UK. The rest is history and I've never regretted my decision.
2. What do you love about the restaurant industry?
The people I get to work with and the friends I have made along the way. More recently the fact that I am lucky enough to be working in a company that is completely open to food trends and ideas, in one of the cities that has probably the best resources, most exciting International food culture and passion for food. The restaurant industry has changed massively over the years I have been in it, and when I first made the move people asked me when I was going to go back and get a "proper" job. Now, friends and people I meet are generally fascinated and intrigued. That's pretty cool
3. Can you tell us a bit about the SPHG restaurants?
Three very different personalities, cuisines and direction, at different eras in the life cycle. Mejico is a vibrant, fun and party atmosphere, non-traditional Mexican, or rather non-Tex Mex. We have a light, fresh approach to the menu, and dare I say it’s healthy (if you forget about the tequila and margaritas !).
INDU, my personal favourite, modern Sri Lankan, again with a twist, using great Australian produce and a village feel to the food we create. The basement vibe gives you a feeling of escapism, and many of our corporate guests love INDU for the hidden gem that it is. Don't expect heavy curries and Indian food, the focus is again on light and fresh with lots of seafood, herbs and fresh spices, and a killer gin list.
Kid Kyoto, our newest addition which I think changes the face of Japanese dining in Sydney. A real feeling of being in a Tokyo izakaya with a great bar selection and a menu that introduces Asian recipes with Australian native ingredients. It's cool, it's different, it's fun !
4. What is one of your most memorable dining experiences?
My first visit to Sepia in about 2015 just blew me away not just for the food, but the service and the "special" treats. Other than that I would probably have to pick some of the backstreet experiences through Indonesia or Thailand in the 90's where I ate things I definitely wouldn't now!
5. What restaurant is on your must-visit list this year?
6. What is your 'old favourite' restaurant that you often revisit?
Chophouse - first went in 2011 and last time a month ago. It NEVER disappoints.
7. What do you love about this restaurant?
Consistency and quality - plus I used to know a lot of the team so that always makes it special. The wine list is also incredible.
8. What is your favourite dish at this restaurant?
Last time, we had a huge Tomahawk between us which was perfectly cooked. But I always have to save room for the Chophouse chocolate blocks!
9. What is your favourite dish at one of your SPHG restaurants?
Oh dear how can I choose - possibly the Great Lamb Raan at INDU, or the Pork Hock at Kid Kyoto. Both firm favourites that I will never take off the menu.
10. Can you share an “Insider Tip” for dining at one of the SPHG restaurants?
Get the team at Kid Kyoto to talk you through a sake flight and listen to their recommendations for food matching. I've never met such a passionate team of sake experts ! But actually saying that the guys at Mejico and their tequila knowledge is next level - ask for Julian or Max and let them take you on a journey through our 280 tequilas. At INDU, get your friends together and book one of our semi-private dining rooms and indulge in the INDU feast, with the Lamb Raan.