A celebration of talented women at Pt. Leo Estate


As a guest, the world of hospitality is often an escape.  A culinary experience where place, plate and cellar pairings are curated to deliver something unique that most of us cannot achieve at home. This comes from the collective experts back and front of house, working together to provide a seamless and memorable occasion.

Today we celebrate some of the women who lead our teams here at Pt. Leo Estate and Laura Restaurant, innovating in their own speciality areas to make us who we are. 

We asked Pt. Leo Estate Restaurant Manager, Madeleine Morgan, Head Sommelier, Amy Oliver, Head of Pastry, Marie Sanderson and Service Standards Business Manager, Amy Lubbock to reflect on their careers and what insights they would share with younger generations looking to find roles in the industry.

For Madeleine Morgan, as a seventeen-year-old, she fell in love immediately with the dynamism, remembering with a wistful smile, “I went to Rosatti on Flinders Lane Melbourne. I was thrilled by the fabulousness, sophistication, and atmosphere. I knew I wanted to be in that environment forever. I love being with people when they are on their leisure clock… it’s joyous for all.”

Comparatively for Head Sommelier Amy Oliver, a working holiday in UK fostered a new appreciation for the world of European wines served in the places she was working.  Like many of us, travelling opened her eyes to more, eating and drinking an integral measure of the new places she adventured through over four years. A keen passion was established but after returning to Australia, she stepped out of the industry only to be drawn back.

Amy explains, “Once you get bitten by the wine bug it’s hard to shake.  Perspective is also a good thing, sometimes you need to do something else to realise what it is you love, and the type of people you enjoy working with.” 

Amy reflects “Becoming a sommelier in a reputable venue was a real process, and there was often a line of people that wanted to get onto the wine team.  I aspired to be like the Senior Sommeliers that I worked with at that time. I spent time as a Section Waiter who was fortunate enough to get a seat at the (wine) tasting table in the venue where I (eventually) got my first real sommelier gig.” 

For Head of Pastry, Marie Sanderson, her passion was born of family traditions, the authentic connections enabled through family sharing a meal. Marie reflects, “Growing up in Copenhagen I always had a passion for good food and cooking. I would go to the harbour with my Dad on a Saturday morning to pick the fish we were going to cook for dinner then go by the bakery and choose pastries for our breakfast on the way home.  Food was always something that brought us together as a family. My Gran had an amazing garden with beautiful fruit trees, berry bushes, veggies and a million beautiful flowers. She showed us how to dig up the potatoes and pick the lettuces for salads. I loved getting lost in her garden. As I grew older and had to decide on a career path there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to become a chef.”

Looking back at her career to date, Marie explains, “Being a woman in a male dominated industry I felt that I always had to prove myself and work that little bit harder to make sure I was good enough. I was the only female in the kitchen when I started 23 years ago. Luckily the industry has changed so much since then and are embracing woman. As a young woman and chef in Copenhagen I got the opportunity to work at the three Michelin starred Restaurant ‘The Fat Duck’ in Berkshire UK. They taught me that it is possible to run a restaurant at the highest level while treating everyone with dignity and respect. The language barrier was a huge hurdle for me and made it quite difficult in the beginning but everyone I worked with were so encouraging and helpful.”

Ainslie Lubbock, Service Standard Business Manager, shares with a laugh, “I am the classic Uni role turned career.” The draw of team dynamics, creative individuals and aesthetically inspiring spaces left her degree of public policy wanting. Fortunate to have worked with excellent industry professionals inspired her to pursue restaurants wholeheartedly.

After twenty-six years in the business, Ainslie credits a friend as shaping an essential early career learning. Pippa James was the first female restaurant manager at Pied a Terre restaurant in London and at Cutler and Co.

“Pip demonstrated to me that hospitality can be ethical, and that kindness and intelligence are synonymous with good leadership.”  

Reflecting on challenges in her veteran career, Ainslie explains, “One of the biggest hurdles for me was the shift from good small restaurants to larger scale venues with serious structures, intensity and demands.  These environments were very tough at first and it took time and some real challenges to my self-belief to feel I was up to the mark!”

Four women with very different career journeys all offer salient advice to those entering the industry.

Ainslie recommends, “Always ask for growth opportunities, have the confidence to believe you can deliver excellence, and if a sommelier offers you a taste of wine always say yes!”

For Madeleine,” I would encourage any young person entering this industry to become multi-skilled. This provides flexibility and longevity. I would also advise them to mentor the next generation, so that we are constantly encouraging people to love our industry, the way we do.”

Regardless of gender the advice Amy would give is the same.  “Work hard and you will be rewarded. Wine is a fascinating and endless topic!  I remember as a new sommelier I wanted to know everything all at once, but wine just doesn’t work like that.  It’s something that takes time, each step builds on the last.  Master the basics, be prepared to do a lot of reading, surround yourself with great wine people, never be afraid to have an opinion, and most importantly drink widely and with an open mind.” 

For Marie, “Go for it! Believe in yourself, cook with your heart and always be open to adapt and evolve. Never be afraid to make mistakes, move on and learn from them.”