Episode 101 Adam Handling
Restauranteur & Chef, The Frog

You have to be impressed with today’s guests energy levels. Adam Handling works hard, has achieved a lot and is not short of an opinion or two that he’s quite happy to share. Adam joined me just 48 hours after re-opening The Frog, his flagship restaurant in Covent Garden. He’d been through a particularly traumatic closure period where he’d lost four of his venues and learnt a great deal about the business side of running restaurants.

Adam speaks openly and honestly about the financial, physical and mental aspects of what he has been through, but he’s kept a huge number of his team, despite 57% payroll costs on re-opening, and he’s keen to find another venue before the year is out to accommodate his talented crew and try and ensure they keep their jobs.

He’s working hard, is thinking about michelin stars and is one of the most driven people I’ve chatted to. His enthusiasm for all things sustainable and what he learnt through his now closed restaurants the Ugly Butterfly and Bean and Wheat is very infectious. Personally I wish Adam the very best for the future, and like many of us, he may well end up with a much stronger business as a result of all he has learnt in the past few months.

Follow Adam on instagram or twitter and order some dinner from HAME

Episode 100 Robin Hutson
CEO Limewood and Home Grown Hotels

For my 100th episode I really wanted to get a bit of an industry super star in my eyes.  Robin Hutson has been on my list of people I’ve wanted to chat to since day one of launch.  

I live within a pretty easy cycle of two of Robin’s PIG hotels – Pig on the Beach in Studland and Pig in the Forest in Brockenhurst.  I LOVE what Robin has created.  

I’ve seen Robin talk at a couple of hotel events and in essence he just knows his stuff.  He oozes common sense and his attention to detail is exemplary.  His venues have plenty of open grounds, an awesome kitchen garden supplying the kitchen with exceptional seasonal produce, relaxed ambience and surroundings, good food and wonderfully designed venues, but not pretentious.  It really is just a great business and his occupancy figures and margins are the envy of many a competitor.

They say never meet your heroes, and I was worried having finally organised a meeting I’d be disappointed.  But Robin was generous with his time, enthusiastic with his stories and I felt privileged to get to poke and prod at one of our hospitality greats in his own venue.  

So there could not really be a more fitting person for my 100th show.  A genuine human of hospitality.

Follow Robin on twitter

Follow the Pig on instagram

Or check out their website

Episode 99 Robin Sheppard
Chairman Bespoke Hotels

Robin Shephard is the Chairman and co-founder of Bespoke Hotels.  Bespoke look after over 5000 hotel rooms, 6000 team members and £500 million pounds worth of assets.  But they particularly interested me, because many of you will know I love the independent hospitality sector. 

Bespoke are fascinating, because although they’ve become a significant player, they keep their personal brand and business very much behind the scenes.  Most of their venues are independently owned, and bespoke simply provide some of the benefit of brand, with consistency of service, some centralised professional team members and some of the benefits that come at scale.  But at the same time none of the venues are forced into a one size fits all box.  They are genuinely venues that have a hospitality soul, and many of the venues you would know in their own right, purposely having no idea that bespoke are involved. 

Robin has a wealth of experience pre-bespoke, from GM positions throughout some fine establishments, to launching a British Bottled water brand and even writing a book about his time being bed bound and paralysed.  Robin is well known in the hospitality sector and I’m sure you will enjoy hearing his views.

Robin does not hold back on his political appraisals, we touch on the impact of OTA’s and turning them from foe to friend, Brexit crops up, who the VAT cut is for, which venues have re-opened and why, how that’s going and Robin’s predictions for the future.

Follow Robin on Twitter

Find out more about Bespoke Hotels

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Episode 98 Danny Pecorelli
MD Exclusive Collection

Exclusive is a superb example of what can be achieved in the genuine world of hospitality when not dominated by venture capitalists or short term city demands.  Exclusive is family owned.  They take a long term view, are not hugely leveraged and as you’ll hear in this conversation Danny is a genuine human with a sincere love of the hospitality sector.

Danny has also been very helpful in helping England win the Rugby Wold cup, but I’ll let him tell that story.

We touch on Danny’s role as the Chair of Master Innholders and what that has meant to him, UK Hospitality comes up again and we get into the details of the operational changes Exclusive have made in re-opening after Pandemic lockdown.  The customer and team response to those changes has been positive, but Danny and I also chew the fat on our expectations of trade as we flip from leisure to business in autumn.  Even Christmas comes up in this wide ranging and enjoyable conversation with one of the good eggs.

Follow Danny on Instagram or Twitter

Find out more about Exclusive Collection here 

Episode 97 Tim Maddams
Chef, Teacher, Presenter

This episode was recorded just before COVID lockdown, so is not referred to in the episode, but it’s a great chat, so I wanted to finally get round to releasing it.  Thanks.

By the time Tim Maddams had reached the end of his first year as a professional chef, working in a restaurant kitchen, he came to a crazy realisation:  he had cooked more meals in those 12 months than most people prepare in an entire life time.  

For a while, working hard with luminaries like Alastair Little and Marco Pierre White and appearing on TV with Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall, gave Tim a constant buzz. But after one family holiday, he realised that if he continued on that 70-houraweek path, he would find himself in a destructive spiral of doom 

That is why, in 2012, he turned himself into what he calls a ‘free-range foodie’, offering a variety of services which draw on his life-long love of foraging, game and field sports, as well as his considerable culinary experience.  

I’m fascinated by the plethora of jobs and opportunities linked loosely under the ‘hospitality’ genre.  I’ve employed hundreds of chefs over the last 17 years and seen many look for a career change, when the reality of working every weekend starts to have an impact on family life.  So, when the opportunity to interview Tim cropped up, looking at just how diverse his income streams are, I was excited to find out more.  

This edition gives you a snapshot of what it’s like to have a varied freelance career, from running a Chef’s Shed, created from old telegraph poles and palettes, to organising ethical, small-bag foodie shoot days and more.  Incidentally, these small days are supporting  a much bigger movement: helping to feed 600,000 people in the last 4 years, through Tim’s work with The Country Food Trust