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A Catholic Independent Day & Boarding School for Girls years 7 - 12

Shelagh Ryan

London Restaurateur and Author

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Shelagh Ryan graduated from Stuartholme in 1990 and is a successful Restaurateur with three Melbourne inspired cafes located in Central London. Shelagh is also Author of Café Kitchen – Relaxed Food for Friends from the Lantana Café, released in September 2014.

Shelagh opened her first café called Lantana in Fitzrovia in 2008. Lantana was voted Time Out London’s ‘Best New Café’ in 2009, ‘Best Café’ in 2010 and included in its 2011 wrap-up of London’s best breakfasts and brunches.

Read Shelagh’s Transcript


Why did you decide to come to London?

I was living in Melbourne working in Media and Film Policy when I had my food epiphany. Melbourne is such a food obsessed city with wonderful restaurants. It’s a really inspiring, multicultural, exciting place to live and I decided then that I wanted to have a change and to do something in food as my career. But Melbourne was completely saturated with fantastic places to eat. My sister and brother were living in London at the time and they kept saying there is nothing in London, in terms of the café culture we love in Australia. They encouraged me to come to London and give it a go. I worked for other restaurants when I first arrived, trying to understand the market, and to get some experience in London. The experience was really invaluable. I opened Lantana in 2008 and the rest is history.

What did you do following graduation?

I graduated from Stuartholme and went to the University of Queensland (UQ) and did an Arts Law Degree. I didn’t really want to practise as a Lawyer so I completed a Graduate Programme in Canberra for the Public Service. I worked for the Department of Communications in the Arts for two years. I didn’t really like Canberra so moved to Melbourne and worked in the Public Service on Media, Broadcasting Policy. I worked in Melbourne for nearly ten years and loved it.

Do you think your time at Stuartholme helped in your career?

Stuartholme gave me a really solid foundation. It’s hard to quantify exactly what Stuartholme gives you, but I think its confidence. It’s a belief in yourself, it’s the knowledge that you really can do anything. The School really does teach you how to be an independent self-starter.

What do you feel is special about Stuartholme?

I think what’s special about Stuartholme is the network that you feel a part of. I had such a great group of friends that I still keep in contact with.

There were also really wonderful teachers who were really inspiring and motivating.

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