From the new chef’s table being installed at Brigade, to Beyond Food’s supper clubs, being able to interact with people in cosier settings is something I really enjoy. It brings new connections too, and I love to see where that leads.
Getting out there, applying skills and using food in a positive way to help people are all particularly important to me. Giving back to the community and spreading social innovation in new ways really can drive change.
Supper clubs have been a trend for a number of years now, but for me, they’re about more than following a foodie trend. As well as giving our guests a one-of-a-kind opportunity to taste the food of well-known chefs, supper clubs are inspiring for our apprentices, help fund our charitable work and create connections among like-minded people.
Going on Dragon’s Den in 2008 was a turning point for me – and I didn’t even get any funding from the dragons! It made me realise the value of partnerships and collaborating with the right people to push an idea forward, so a concept can be the very best it can be.
Chefs reach their profession in many different ways, from people who have been passionate cooks from a young age, to those who have pushed to improve their lives by gaining skills in hospitality. We should celebrate the diversity of ways people get into their careers and support everyone who has an idea. We don’t know what difference people can make within themselves and to others until we give them a chance.
Many of my experiences recently have shown me how mainstream education needs an overhaul. Using experiential learning and developing education around communities rather than classrooms, we should be inspiring people in multiple ways.
Recently I’ve spent a fair bit of time judging other people’s work at awards and competitions. After turning 46 last week, I’m starting to realise I do have some experience to share, but it’s still a strange position to be in. What it has made me realise is the myriad ways chefs contribute to society through their craft.
I believe we should inspire young people to take their futures into their own hands, whatever their starting point in life. There are so many ways this can be done and often it’s the smallest and simplest interventions that have the furthest reaching impact.
The work we do is so much more powerful when we connect, collaborate and share our knowledge with others. This is something I feel strongly about, so I get out and about as much as I can to make new connections.
Challenging yourself and doing something you wouldn’t normally do can be a revelation. It creates inspiration and gives a breath of fresh air – I’ve witnessed how getting outside your comfort zone can change lives.
Social enterprises and charities are spending too much time fighting over funds instead of fighting for people. The House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Group invited me to share my experiences about this last week, and it struck me just how much they rely on our sector to solve the big social problems of our times.
Innovation in the hospitality sector is about more than Michelin starred restaurant food. It’s about developing interesting ingredients and creating entirely new products across the whole industry, as well as the industry being more open-minded when it comes to career opportunities and encouraging young people to enter this exciting and fast moving world of hospitality.
It's hard to escape all the apps and services delivering takeaways and food from almost any brand these days. But I can't help thinking this trend is taking us away from fresh produce and the social rituals that come from cooking.
I didn't really excel at school, so I never imagined I'd become a social entrepreneur who helped homeless people get back into work. In itself, that's an important lesson for people I come across through the Beyond Food Foundation and Brigade restaurant.