Megan Sullivan, General Manager, Hotel Centennial, Woollahra and Susan Sullivan, co-owner Boronia Kitchen, Gladesville

One of the most important lessons that Merivale restaurant manager Megan Sullivan learned from her mother, hospitality industry stalwart Susan, is to look after the people who are the core of the business. “Mum taught me that staff, guests and suppliers are the three pillars; nourish those relationships and success will follow.”

Despite having two parents working in the industry Megan, 26, didn’t think she was destined for a career in hospitality. “I was always convinced I would be a fashion designer. When I was 15, my interest in food, wine and hospitality sparked something that I couldn’t ignore and I have never looked back.”

Image: Hotel Centennial, Woollahra

For Megan, Mother’s Day is special because it’s a chance to celebrate the incredible love that is shared between a mother and her child. “It’s a day to show gratitude to your mum and to make her feel special.”

It’s something she understood from an early age. Susan recalls a time, when Megan was seven, when she set up a restaurant in their home. “They invited Peter and me to dinner, had set up a table for two with the full tablecloth, folded serviettes and flowers, and a handwritten Mother’s Day menu.” Megan was the waiter, and siblings Luke and Emma were in the kitchen. “Their gift to me was their very own restaurant.”

Megan and Susan usually plan their own celebration for the Monday after Mother’s Day as both are generally working on the day, one of the busiest in the Australian dining calendar.

Image: Boronia Kitchen, Hunters Hill

Hospitality is tough and demanding, says Susan, and the hours are a huge challenge, especially for women. “It takes a lot out of you and then to go home and give time and attention to your family is never easy. The hours that everyone works in hospitality are huge and they are unkind to family life so women have to support each other as much as possible.”

Are there good things about being part of a restaurant family too? Definitely, they agree. “It’s provided us with some amazing experiences, but it hasn't been easy,” says Susan. “It either tears you apart or brings you closer together and makes you a stronger family unit; luckily I feel we are in the latter category.”

For Megan, the biggest advantage is sharing a passion for hospitality, food and wine with the people she loves the most. “And having mentors who I trust, that support, guide and inspire me.”