Episode 52 Cemal Ezel – Founder Change Please

Is it possible to change the world, simply by changing where you buy your coffee?

This was just one of many questions discussed at Alex Chisnall’s Entrepreneurs’ Summit in Bournemouth. It brought together a group of inspirational speakers, including Cemal Ezel, founder of the award-winning social enterprise, Change Please.

If you’ve not yet come across Change Please coffee, you soon will. It’s stocked in Sainsbury’s nationwide and it is Virgin Trains’ beverage of choice. If you live in London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester or Edinburgh, you might have spotted its distinctive grey carts with a bright yellow circle on the side.

What you might not know is that all the baristas at Change Please have experienced periods of homelessness – but with the right training and support, they’re able to make sleeping rough a thing of the past.

Perhaps the most inspirational aspect to Cemal’s work, is his conviction that businesses with a genuine social conscience will be leading the way, commercially and morally, over the next few years. It’s a point he makes powerfully, first in his presentation, and then in the conversation I had with him afterwards, on stage.

Episode 51 Tom Barton and Philip Eeles – Co Founders of Honest Burgers

There’s a feeling in hospitality that when an independent restaurant is successful and starts replicating itself, it’s in danger of losing its soul – especially when it reaches 20 sites.

That’s why I was keen to chat to this weeks guests, the co-founders of Honest Burgers, Tom Barton and Philip Eeles. I’d heard a few times that they are living proof that this doesn’t have to be the case.

Regular listeners will know that I am passionate about the little guy, and the humans, rather than the brands of hospitality. So with 36 venues and a team of 777, Honest Burgers are – in terms of numbers – a chain. But I wanted to find out how they absolutely, and genuinely, don’t act like one. Have they found the eutopia of the benefits, rather than disbenefits of scale.

What was apparent from our very wide ranging conversation is that they are obsessive about the details and refuse to compromise. They still make all their own chips, and wouldn’t give a frozen version the time of day.

They also have their own butchery which produces chopped – not minced – beef, to deliver the satisfying texture that fine medium-rare burgers deserve. And they encourage the managers of each venue to go out and discover independent food and drink producers to collaborate with.

As you listen, you’ll hear many more examples of how to grow a company and remain true to your principles.

Episode 50 Steve Groves – Head Chef Roux at Parliament Square

We’re diving deep into the wonderful world of restaurant kitchens this week.  Watching this chef’s career take off has been an inspiring experience for me, not least because Steve Groves started his culinary life working by the sea in Dorset, where we shared a town, and even a seafront some time ago.   

If Steve’s name doesn’t ring an immediate bell, maybe the fact that he was a winner of ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’, will nudge your memory.  It also gives you an idea of the exacting standards he works to, and why Michel Roux Jr snapped him up as a sous-chef, to join the team at The Roux at Parliament Square.  

For the last six years Steve has been Head Chef at this prestigious restaurant, giving its French classical heritage a modern twist and impressing yet more judges, most recently at The Craft Guild’s National Chef of the Year competition, that Steve impressively won.  

But as you’ll hear, Steve is not one for blowing his own trumpet. He’s more interested in developing the talent of his colleagues, making sure the whole team gels, and that they get to see their families at the weekends.  Yes, every weekend. 

And as it’s nearly Christmas, he reveals what’s replacing the traditional turkey on his  festive dinner table. 

Episode 49 Rob Wilson
CEO Toast Ale – bread into beer!

Imagine buying a fresh loaf of bread, cutting it in two and immediately throwing half of it in the bin.  You eat what’s left and then you buy another loaf the next day and do exactly the same thing again.  

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it – and not something any of us would do deliberately.  But, across the world, that is what the human race is doing.  

OK, it’s not quite half. It’s actually 44%, which is still an eye-watering proportion.  44% of all the bread we produce is not eaten, at all.   

That is why Toast Ale was born. Set up in 2016, it sells delicious, award-winning beer using surplus bread and its open-source recipe has inspired brewers from South Africa and Iceland to Brazil and New York. Its BHAG – its Big Hairy Audacious Goal – is to convert the whole of the UK’s brewing industry to its way of thinking in the next 15 years. So, whenever we raise our glass, we’ll all be helping to save the planet.  

Rob Wilson is Toast Ale’s CEO. Before he joined the Toast team, he’d already got a serious track record in social entrepreneurship. This includes spending his ‘mega-moon-honey-moon’ in Africa, gathering stories about other inspirational entrepreneurs with his wife.   

Get ready for a life-enhancing conversation, which encourages us all to have fun as we help build a better future for planet earth. 

Episode 48 James Mansfield
Field and Flower – grass fed meat by post

James Mansfield, is a master at learning on the job. When he and James Flower, a friend from agricultural college, decided to set up their meat box business, both of them had to perfect the art of butchery from a standing start. They also had to scale up their culinary skills very rapidly, so they could serve mouth-watering dishes to 2,000 VIP guests at Richard Branson’s V Festival.  

I was excited to chat to James since with alot of press recently about eating less meat for the sake of planet earth, I was intrigued to explore some issues around what good and bad practise looks like.  Is it a case of eating no meat, or eating better meat.  Caring more about animal welfare and recognising that how the animals we eat are cared for, what they eat and what drugs they take must surely be part of the informed conversation.  These could be tricky things to ask a butcher, but as expected James was engaging, knowledgeable and happy to educate. 

This willingness to jump in at the deep end and learn on the go partly explains why ‘field&flower’  is so successful today. It’s also because they’ve stuck to their principles: only supplying traditionally reared grass-fed beef, along with free range poultry, pork and lamb. It won’t surprise you to know that they’ve designed their own box packaging too, which is more environmentally friendly than the traditional poly box.  

As you’ll hear now, James’ hospitality career began in the same ‘nought-to-sixty’ vein, front of house at one of London’s most famous restaurants.