Episode 24 – Gareth Banner, The Ned

When hospitality is your calling, you can’t help but be drawn to it. This is something Gareth has learned since the day his love for hotels and looking after other humans began. He now has 252 bedrooms, 10 restaurants, a members’ club and three floors of health, fitness, beauty and spa facilities, inside his gorgeous building – The Ned.

Episode 24 Gareth Banner
The Ned (Soho House / Sydell)

There has never, ever, been anything quite like The Ned in the UK before. Created from the former headquarters of the Midland Bank, in the heart of the City Of London, the Grade I listed building is now home to 10 restaurants, 250 bedrooms, 6 private event spaces, a spa, a gym and a club with over 3000 members…  

In any given week, 30,000 meals are served on the ground floor alone.  As its managing director, Gareth Banner, says modestly, for a single address there are a lot of moving parts….’  

Just three years ago, when he was looking through the dust and the scaffolding at what was the final phase of five years of renovation, he knew it would be special.  As you’ll hear, his career – which takes in stints with global brand The Marriott as well as iconic boutique hotel, The Hempel – is also impressive. It went some way to prepare him for this amazing project.  But actually, as you’ll hear, the biggest learning has happened since The Ned opened its doors to the public two years ago. 

Episode 23 – Emily Davies, Dorset Blue

The famous Dorset Blue Vinny didn’t start off perfect, you know. There was a time that Dorset Blue was made in nearly farmhouse, before dying out for 300 years… Only to be resurrected by Emily’s father during a time of milk glut and butter mountains. Eventually, Dorset Blue became not only an award winning, protected food name product – but also a range of delicious soups, chutneys and a name that stands for local produce and supporting the independent hospitality industry.

Episode 23 Emily Davis
Blue Vinny Cheese

‘Unique’ is often misused as a word, but this week you’ll hear about a delicious food product that really is one of a kind.  In the early 1980s, dairy farmer Michael Davies resurrected a 300 year-old recipe for Dorset Blue Vinny – a subtly veined cheese which is much more delicate than Stilton, its nearest relative.   

Nowadays, Michael’s daughter Emily is in charge of production – overseeing the only farm in the world that has the legal right to produce this type of blue cheese. 

Today you’ll hear how the patient Davies family had to put up with blue mould on their cornflakes, in the early days of Michael’s cheese experiments…and why Emily describes beta versions as ‘nuclear’! 

You’ll also discover how a disappointing trip to a farmers’ market led to a whole new branch of the Blue Vinny business…and why wonky cucumbers and misshapen cheese off-cuts have a special place in Emily’s heart… 

Enjoy the conversation… 

Episode 22 – Jonathan Downey, Street Feast

From his first beer at 19 to his ‘G&T’ moment in Hong Kong… Jonathan Downey is a hospitality legend who went from building a bar whilst being a lawyer – to opening the famous Street Feast in and around London. Match Bar, Sosho, Milk and Honey, Street Feasts, 2 million visitors a year, Dinerama, Giant Robot, Hawker House…hold on tight…it’s quite the adventure!