Episode 136 Thomas Gent
Gentle Farming

I so loved my first research chat with Thomas about Regenerative Farming & Carbon Credits that when the opportunity came up to record a podcast I took the chance to travel across the country and meet him face to face.  I adore Thomas’s idea and the knowledge he has gained as a fourth generational farmer in Cambridgeshire . 

In a nutshell Thomas spent a bit of downtime in lockdown pondering how to solve a global problem.  But he did that looking out of his window in a very real, local and achievable way, that could have almost instant and measurable results.  

As is all too often the case it’s the simple ideas that look like they have the greatest opportunity.  If any of you listening have seen the ‘kissing the ground documentary’ on netflix then this is the deep dive podcast equivalent of one way to help with the challenge of what is happening to our soil.  If any of you have listened to my podcast with Guy Singh Watson about organic farming, where we also touch on how many harvests are left in our soil, then this will be a great follow on episode. 

For any of you simply interested in offsetting your carbon in your business, Thomas is now providing a measurable, British solution.  A solution where you can potentially visit the farm that is saving the carbon and see what they are doing, why they are doing it and the difference it is making.  And not only will you be saving carbon, you will be helping that farmer on a transition from intensive to regenerative.  Perhaps helping the farmer fall back in love with ecology, and biology and being custodians of the land for a short, but oh so important period of time.

And if you are a restauranteur or work in hospitality in general, perhaps just asking questions, and caring more and more about where your food is coming from and who is growing it, is a great start point building momentum to support farmers who really want to be part of a positive movement.

I’m utterly confident that Thomas and his Gentle Farming business and carbon credits are going to do well.  I’ll be looking into buying some myself and offering support, and I hope you will too.

Chat with Thomas on Linked in or follow Gentle Farming on Instagram or Twitter.

Episode 135 Adam Phelps
Cellar Society

We are off to the world of events.  Something I’d perhaps inadvertently neglected in my conversations around the world of hospitality.  Certainly a part of the sector that todays guest Adam Phelps feels like the government has forgotten when it comes to recognition of the pandemics impact and financial support.  Adam has been working at the top end of prestigious events for 22 years.  Chatting through some of the choreography and planning required to deliver for clients who expect perfection, and are happy to pay for it was inspiring.  100 meals delivered to the table in perfect synchronisation by 50 model looking FOH members, immaculately presented is just one that creates a vivid picture in my mind.

Adam has looked after famous rock stars, the best jewellery and fashion brands and big festivals, but more recently has had to be exceptionally creative to find a way to navigate the impact of COVID.  Losses have racked up, but Cellar Society are working hard to keep their team employed and ensure their loyal customer base does eventually come back to them when permitted to do so. 

 It feels fitting to be releasing this episode on the day that the government are once again pushing back full opening from the 21st June and the night club sector and large event companies must not be forgotten.  Restaurant and pub garden trade is currently strong, but many in our sector continue to struggle.  But this is not a covid specific episode and I think you’ll enjoy the conversation.  Much of the story is about Adam and his teams adventures and business journey so far.

Episode 134 Nathan Outlaw
Chef, Author, Restauranteur

Many of your will know today’s guest Nathan Outlaw from his various TV appearances, Michelin stars, all round love of hospitality and the author of 5 well regarded books.  Chatting to Nathan you can see why he’s such a popular hospitality human.  Relaxed, positive, knowledgeable, with no pretentiousness and happy to chat about the challenges, lows and highs of his hospitality adventure.

Nathan was generous with his time in this conversation, where we touch on just how tough an impact the pandemic had with Nathan having to close his restaurants in London, but how it created a positive opportunity for him to revaluate his business and his lifestyle.  Nathan is now super excited to be 100% focused on his two restaurants in Port Isaac in Cornwall.  

And as you’ll hear during this chat Nathan has really worked hard to simplify the business and revaluate  the importance of looking after the customer and keeping his chefs creative, with sustainability high on the agenda, rather than worrying about Michelin stars.  With decades of experience behind him and a far greater understanding of the business element of restaurants compared to his early years, Nathan now gets to create a set menu at a set price for a set number of covers booked out 90 days in advance.  It’s a genius model that really gives him and his team the freedom to enjoy simply creating incredible seasonal dishes that vary depending on what has been caught or farmed locally. 

A real tale of learning, closing restaurants, opening restaurants and all the time loving the produce and the team around him, I really hope you enjoy this weeks conversation.

Check out his business here, find him on instagram, or the business on twitter

Episode 133 Stefan Leser
CEO Langham Hotels & Resorts

Stefan Leser is a bit different to my normal guests on this podcast since he is based in Hong Kong and rather than being a little local independent Langham Hospitality has some big backers and a number of properties spread throughout the globe.  It is that global perspective that I was really keen to explore with Stefan.  There are some really interesting things we can learn from people like Stefan and Langham Hotels, who are operating across countries and across borders.  

I wanted to understand how different markets across the globe are performing and wether that performance is due to governments taking a different approach on how to manage Covid.  We recorded this show a few weeks ago, but at the time Stefan’s hotels across China, Australia and New Zealand were trading pretty well, whilst London obviously was closed.  Where his hotels were doing ok, they were aimed at the domestic market only. 

Many of these countries closed their borders fully very early on in the pandemic.  As a result they seem to have kept variants at bay.  Whilst being sympathetic to airlines and those in the international market I get the sense from many people that I am speaking with that a summer of domestic trade only would be way better than heading into another lockdown.  Certainly with the so called Indian variant now hitting the news, what should we be learning by looking at other countries and seeing how they are managing the situation.  Stefan may help broaden our perspectives with his views.

And then there is also how the product of hospitality is evolving and changing globally, as well as the customer and their expectation.  What does it look like when your customer changes from international to national in city hotels and what do you need to change?

We explore all of this and much more as we join Stefan very high up in a Hong Kong high rise.  Much as I miss recording these conversations face to face, the ability to hop across the globe in just a few seconds is pretty cool.

You can find Stefan on LinkedIn and Langham Hotels and Resorts website here or Instagram.

Episode 132 Dan Austin
MD Lake District Farmers

I think you are going to fall in love with Dan Austin, today’s guest, and the Lake District Farmers, for a whole heap of reasons.  Firstly the Lake District is just an utterly stunning part of the world, so anything we can do to support it, and the way of life that has been going on there for hundreds of years, I personally think is important.  Traditional farming, where animals can roam free on the fells for me is a big part of this.  Not only does it protect a way of life, and lead to happy animals a million miles away from modern intensive production techniques, but clearly it creates nicer animals for the food system too.  Lake District Farmers supply most of the best chefs and best restaurants in the country, as you are about to discover.

But more than that this is also a tale of perseverance, of business acumen, of learning and making things up as you go, of responding to business catastrophe and adapting fast to keep the business running.  Dan and his team’s perseverance and commitment comes across in so many of the stories he tells.  Wether that’s being found half clothed having slept in the delivery van before meeting an important potential customer, or relocating the entire business over a weekend following a fire or simply realising that if you have a 1 in 100 chance of making something happen, you’ve just got to repeat it 100 times.  

We also touch on the ethics of meat consumption, and the carbon impact of our diets so plenty in here for everyone.

Find them via the website and make sure you check out the INCREDIBLE videos.  Follow them on instagram