‘How the loss of my mother inspired me to start my own business’

‘How the loss of my mother inspired me to start my own business’

The story behind award-winning restaurant Bouche on Bridge.

BY Emma Darrouzet, September 18, 2017
 

Premium member Emma Darrouzet has spent the last 10 years dedicating her time to teaching and helping communities both in Australia and overseas. It wasn’t until the tragic loss of her mother that she took the leap into the tough, but ultimately rewarding food industry. This is her story.

There are things that you notice when you arrive at a restaurant. The sommelier topping up glasses of wine, the laughter of groups sharing a meal, the staff straightening chairs as they glide past tables, the lights on a shared table that remind you of hushed libraries and university days. But then there are other stories that don’t come out until you talk to the people. Like the tragic but inspiring turn of events that inspired me to open up Bouche on Bridge.

While owning a restaurant is on the opposite sphere of my teaching and community work, I have always been a passionate businesswoman.

At Sydney Children’s Hospital School I developed and implemented the Art Program and brought art to the patients both in the hospital school and on the wards. I also started the Art Program in the secure mental health unit, providing Art Therapy and art as an escape to the mentally ill adolescent patients. It was so rewarding. When I started at the hospital there was barely an Art Program, and I took it from one to five different programs (which are still running to this day). I am still an Honorary Arts Educator at the hospital and heavily involved on a voluntary basis.

It was the tragic and unexpected loss of my mother through suicide that inspired me to open my own business.

My mother loved food. She taught me how to cook and how to appreciate food and ingredients, and my whole life all my friends and family would say, “you should open a restaurant; you should go on Masterchef”.

As a result of Mum’s death, I came into some money, and I really wanted to do something with it – a project that would honour her memory but also fulfill some of my own dreams. It has been the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I have had to learn (the hard way) many things about business that I never thought I would have to learn or do, and I have grown and been scared and been overwhelmed and happy all at the same time.

bouche on bridge

The thing I’m most proud of is that I haven’t given up.

If you can think of a challenge, I have faced it. I’ve had staff steal from me. I have had multiple different people and parties lie to me, try and make us fail, and not follow through on promises. I have had significant cash flow issues due to the current market. I have had significant push back from some of the other restaurant owners around town that want to see me fail. I have faced LOTS of sexism, from landlords telling me, ‘you would look nice dancing on a pole,’ to other men asking me, ‘when are you free for dinner?’ during meetings.

Hospitality is a man’s world and they haven’t liked a curly-haired blonde entering that world. It has been a rocky ride and I would say I have had more challenges than I have had good moments, but I have tried to problem solve and do it with a positive attitude and a smile on my face. I am also proud of how far I have come as a business chick. I have had to learn on the spot and that hasn’t been easy, but I am proud of myself for sticking it out.

Nothing gets done by sitting around complaining or wallowing.

You need to get up, dust yourself off, be ruthless and get the job done! I have also put my money where my mouth is, done my research, and made sure I am prepared and knowledgeable and never taken no for an answer.

What I love most about what I do now is being around people everyday and bringing people happiness.

People are happy when they are eating nice food and drinking nice wine. I love making people happy, and what better environment to do it in than a restaurant!

For me, Bouche on Bridge is a spot where you can drink and dine for an hour, or five, and experience delicious and sustainable dining in a casual environment with zero pretentiousness. I think my story can help other Business Chicks realise that a change of career is possible. It is never too late, and if you can dream it, you can do it.

Since opening in September last year, Bouche on Bridge took out the two major awards at Taste of Sydney for their delicious and locally sourced and sustainable produce from Aussie farmers. Bouche on Bridge has become our go-to for Premium member dinners in Sydney. They’re also the official restaurant of First Dates Australia. If you’re looking for a new spot for a business lunch or after work wind down (or first date maybe?), Emma has kindly offered Business Chicks Premium members a 10% discount – just let them know at the time of booking. 

Images: supplied. 

If you this has brought up any issues or are experiencing a personal crisis, you can contact:

Lifeline 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

BeyondBlue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au