Q&A with Beer Awards Judge Clare Clouting

Dive into the world of beer with this Q&A with Perth Royal Beer Awards Judge, Clare Clouting! From her farm upbringing to judging at this prestigious event, Clare shares insights on challenges and opportunities for women in the food industry, along with the crucial role the awards play in supporting local talent.

What got you into the food scene, and what keeps you inspired?

I grew up on a farm that produced arable crops, livestock, and sugar beet. From a very early age, I understood where our food came from, particularly in terms of meat production. At 13 years old, I embarked on a decade-long vegetarian journey, which prompted me to start cooking for myself and take a deeper interest in food production and sourcing.

After high school, I discovered an excellent university course that specialised in food science and production, and I was immediately hooked. During my studies, we delved into various aspects of food production, from cheese-making to cider production to processing UHT orange juice. This hands-on experience fuelled my passion even more.

Even now, more than 20 years into my career, I still find joy in visiting food production facilities and farms. I never tire of understanding the origins of our food and how different practices and processes influence its flavours, quality, and sustainability. Every moment of my journey in the food industry has been immensely rewarding.

What’s your favourite part about being a judge for the Perth Royal Food Awards?

It’s a really fulfilling role, from many perspectives. It feels amazing to award producers with recognition for their hard work and creativity and on the flip side offer good quality feedback and insights to enable them to take their product to the next level. Oh, and on a personal level, getting to try so many different styles and hear my fellow judges’ thoughts and opinions is a real treat.

Any thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for women in the food industry today?

In many ways equality within the food industry has progressed a lot since I first entered the workplace. However, I often feel like it’s not progressed enough. I’ve been the only women manager in operations on more than one occasion, and whilst being surrounded by a large group of male managers doesn’t intimidate me personally, it’s always strikes me as sad and not to mention very off putting when it comes to attracting diverse talent.

I think for our industry to thrive and our brands to speak to everyone, there’s real strength in diversity and I’m not just referring to including women. There’s a lot we can do collectively to address these gaps, for example we can learn from the more diverse sectors within the food industry and other industries. Some of the quick and effective things businesses can do straight away can include:

  • Supporting female employees to join networking groups & organisations like NAWO. For our drinks industry the Pink Boots Society  and WOHO are great.
  • Encourage mentorship relationships, both internally and externally.
  • Engage the diversity among your current employees to review job ads, interview practices and more. Find out from their perspective what you could do to make working their more attractive or increase retention.
  • Be inclusive in your process design and infrastructure. Most of us have heard stories of how seatbelts, airbags and police protective vests were originally designed using the  “typical male” physique and it’s often not much different when it comes to equipment design, raw material package sizing and weights etc
  • Implement basic policies, a code of conduct, and relevant induction procedures to address diversity, inclusion, and non-conformance.

In your opinion, how does the Perth Royal Food Awards support and uplift food producers in Australia?

The Perth Royal Food Awards play a crucial role in showcasing and celebrating the exceptional work of our state’s food industry. WA really does have it all when it comes to food and drink. We have amazing high quality raw materials and super talented producers. I encourage West Australians to see the Perth Royal Food Award Results Catalogues as a directory of what to eat and how they can support our local industry.

Lastly, any advice for other ladies looking to make waves in the food world?

Yes, I do. Someone I’ve personally looked up to is ex-PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. She said “Whatever you do, throw yourself into it. Throw your head, heart, and hands into it.”

I couldn’t agree more. Believe in yourself, lift each other up, look out for one another and GO FOR IT!

Entries for the 2024 Perth Royal Beer Awards are now open! For more information, check out: Perth Royal Beer Awards.

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