Episode 117 Naomi Duncan
CEO Chefs in Schools charity

Surely schools are the place to improve knowledge on food, on what we should eat, to inspire a life long love for whole food and to understand the difference between real food and processed food.  To understand that food is essential for life, and that in the modern world nobody should be going hungry.  To try and fathom how on earth it is possible for the same areas struck be food poverty and lack of access to food to at the same time be suffering from diabetes and obesity due to the shocking quality of the food that may be available.  It’s just so bloody obvious.  How on earth have we allowed ourselves to have an education system that spends so little time on the one thing we put in our bodies every single day that nourishes us.  That gives us energy, that fuels our bodies and our minds.  We cannot achieve our potential either individually or as a collective unless we fuel ourselves efficiently.

Naomi Duncan and the charity Chefs in Schools are right at the beating heart of this debate and trailblazing some of the improvements that can be made.  They will soon be working with over 70 schools, predominantly in London, but with grand plans to work with, or inspire a transformation across thousands, if not tens of thousands of schools.

In this chat we dive into understanding what the problem with school food is, how have we ended up here, what should be done, what can be done and what is being done.  The impact that Naomi and the Chefs in Schools team are having is exceptional and very exciting.  Wether helping get fully trained restaurant style chefs into schools, or working with existing teams, they are focused not only on providing better food in canteens, but working with the curriculum in educating children and inspiring them around what good food can look like.  But whatever you do, don’t call the food healthy, since they have learnt the hard hard way, that can turn the average teenager off. 

I hope many of you listening will be inspired to speak to your local schools.  If you are a parent perhaps you can ask better questions of your kids school.  But if you work in the sector, why not reach out to your local school and see if you can help.  I’ve personally found working with my local primary school in inspiring and teaching children about real food and seasonality and presentation and the ethics of food has been hugely entertaining and exceptionally rewarding.  

Read about the School Food Plan and visit Chefs In Schools online or follow them on instagram or twitter  

Episode 116 Carly Trisk-Grove
B-Corp, OPOP & Cafe in the Park

I love Carly’s story and her energy and ethos and her general hospitality adventure.  As you will hear Carly went from a small wooden hut, to an expensive hobby, to raising 1/2 a million pounds and building a beautiful cafe in the park.  Along this journey Carly realised that people were the key to all that she was achieving.  Carly, her husband ‘Ian’ and their team won multiple awards for their cafe.  Particularly around employing disabled team members and looking after the local community, who treated the cafe as their own. 

But, Carly is only too aware of how tough a sector hospitality can be, and eventually sold her beloved cafe to start a new life deep in Devon.  But as is too often the case, the hospitality itch kept coming back, and Carly and Ian have been busy developing a new concept OPOP.  One price, one plate, with ethics and people and shared success deep rooted in it’s DNA.  Carly has even become a B-Leader, both for her own business, but also to tell others about the opportunity becoming a B-Corp presents.

I learnt a great deal talking to Carly, and really enjoyed her perspectives and positivity.  I can’t wait to continue to watch Carly’s hospitality adventure unfold in her new found corner of the country.  Our conversation talks about B- Corps, Carly’s journey, values and how they evolved, eating meat, pay what you can afford, fundraising and so much more.  I’m sure you’ll find some nuggets of wisdom in here and be inspired to continue to care about the type of business you operate, or the type of business you buy from.

Follow OPOP on instagram, or read about them on the website, or follow Carly on twitter

Episode 115 Dan Rose-Bristow
The Torridon Resort

Set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a magnificent sea loch, The Torridon has one of the most spectacular and idyllic locations in the country.

What Dan, his wife Rohaise and the team have created in the Torridon is awesome. So remote with the challenges of staffing and weather and access and much more, yet they have an incredible reputation.  As treasurer of the Master Innholders, Chairman of Pride of Britain Hotels and Director of Luxury Scotland Consortium Dan’s also got a pretty broad perspective and some great nuggets of wisdom for all in hospitality.  Not bad for a city trader with no desire to work anywhere near hospitality when he first set off on his career.

Dan and I touch on creative thinking when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff in such remote locations, sustainability and kitchen gardens, diversifying styles of accommodation, rapidly switching target markets, the visit from the BBC team and the subsequent incredible exposure, as well as setting up an outdoor pursuits business in a beautiful and remote part of the countryside.

I loved chatting with Dan and have a huge amount of respect for his business acumen and generally just being a great example of another awesome Human of Hospitality.  As so many of us do, Dan is working in the industry for the right reasons.  Yes, absolutely a good businessmen, but more than that a good human, with a desire to serve not only his guests, but the industry at large, whilst developing a team that can go off out into the broader world of hospitality.

Check out the Torridon on the BBC show via the Iplayer 

Learn more via the Torridon website, follow Dan himself on Twitter or see some beautiful photos via their instagram page. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter via the podcast website.

Episode 114 Zoe Wangler
Setting up an ecological farm

Zoe is from the ‘ecological land cooperative’ (ELC) – a ‘Not For Profit’ trying to solve some of the problems of excessively large farms, often mono-culture dominated and using too many chemicals, having a very detrimental impact on the land and ecosystem.

I speak to many people being inspired to enter the world of hospitality, not only to sell better quality more ethical food to the consumer, but also interested in how to grow this food and actually produce it in the first place.  If you’re interested in how to have a positive impact on the food you buy, or how it is grown, you will enjoy this weeks conversation.

The ELC want to see a living, working countryside where land is valued as a way to enhance the good of community, countryside and the natural world. Revitalising rural economies.  

They want to see low-impact, land-based livelihoods flourish. The stewardship of land to create healthful, wholesome and ecologically sound food and land-based products that benefit people and the biosphere.

And they do this in a number of ways, that starts with buying land and finding stewards who want to set up their own business.  They help spread the cost of this land over a number of years and help the new stewards with planning to actually be allowed to live on the land whilst they regenerate and farm it.

I think ELC is great NFP.  Not only does it have great aspirations, but it already has a number of successful farms up and running and actually making a difference.  But it is early days and so much more can be done.  I hope some of you listening to this conversation will be inspired to want to set up your own small scale business on a piece of land.  But many of you will want to support the incredible work this charity does.  And even more of you will think about where you are buying your food and where you can support a local veg box scheme.

For further inspiration check out the movie ‘the biggest little farm‘ or ‘kiss the ground‘.  

Read more about the ELC on the web.  And here are a couple of other great sources of info that crops up in our chat:

Rocco Bova

Episode 113 Rocco Bova
GM Chablé Yucatán – Mexico

Rocco Bova is living quite the hospitality adventure.  I wanted to catch up with him for a few reasons.

Firstly he’s running a health resort in Mexico, a fascinating country.  Sometimes a reputation for drug cartels, kidnapping and more recently a catastrophic impact of COVID-19.  But Rocco loves Mexico, and he’s lived in enough countries to be able to make an objective decision.

Secondly, with people maybe questioning why they work in hospitality and wondering what the future might hold, Rocco demonstrates just what an exciting and varied career it can provide.  He’s worked in all the corners of the globe, really getting to know local cultures and people as he lives in, rather than travels through, so many different countries.  It’s one of the great opportunities a career in hospitality can provide.  But I wanted to chat realistically about the pros and cons.  Is a family life still possible, is managing different cultures a challenge, does he miss the comforts of a regular home life.  I won’t spoil the conversation, but safe to say Rocco absolutely LOVES hospitality and all the adventurous opportunities it has created for him.

Finally Rocco runs a wellness resort, and has some strong views on the vortex of negative thinking and what we should all be doing, both mentally and physically to maintain a positive outlook and make the most of our limited time on earth.

We also chat through some practical tips on social media management, how to make guests feel like they are staying with their mother for their vacations, how excited he is that his kids are following in his footsteps and studying hospitality and the global human values of respect love and trust and so much more.

Find out more about Chable resorts on the website or follow Rocco himself on instagram or linkedIn