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Patrons’ Hall Of Fame

To mark the 25th anniversary of the National Restaurateurs’ Dinner in 2012, several leading lights of the industry were invited to become patrons in recognition of their support for the Academy of Food & Wine Service, The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and The Restaurant Association and their significant and generous contribution to the industry.

NRD Founder

Roy Ackerman CBE FHI FRSA Roy Ackerman

As most of you will know Roy Ackerman was a well-recognised face in the international world of hospitality and gastronomy as well as being a respected personality in the world of publishing, film and art.

Roy started his career with an apprenticeship training in the kitchen, and held many positions, posts and credentials for his considerable contributions to hospitality and the culinary arts. His career spanned more than 50 years and took him all over the world in pursuit of good food, good wine and good company.

In 1975 Roy opened his first restaurant, Quincy’s Bistro in Oxford, and then went on to form Kennedy Brookes with his then business partner, the late Michael Golder. From humble beginnings with five restaurants the group grew to over 130 restaurants and hotels.

His long-established consultancy, Tadema Studios, also gained prestige over the years with the corporate consultancy side offering a service to international and local hotel groups and provided links with restaurant owners and hoteliers with chefs and restaurateurs. The art division of Tadema Studios specialised in providing artwork for hotels, restaurants and private commissions. His studio worked with both internationally renowned artists such as Sir Peter Blake, as well as many emerging artists. Roy’s online TV food and drink review programme,, showcased leading chefs, sommeliers, restaurants and hotels in the UK and abroad. His audience reach exceeded two million.

Roy was Chairman, then President, of The Restaurant Association in the 80s when he started this fundraising dinner and he was at the time Chairman of the Hotel and Catering Training Board. His other honorary positions included amongst many others President of the Academy of Food and Wine Service, Chairman of the Governors of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Chancellor of The Wine Guild of the United Kingdom, where he succeeded the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

Roy was appointed OBE in 1990 for his contribution to tourism and training and he was later elevated to CBE in 2000 for his services to gastronomy. In 2010 he received the coveted Catey Lifetime Achievement Award for services to the hospitality industry.

Roy passed away in May 2017, following a series of strokes, just after the very successful 30th anniversary of the National Restaurateurs’ Dinner which he founded in 1987 and which thanks to his continued support had raised over £1.5 million pounds which has been reinvested, via the various associations of which he was so proud to support, back into training and education within his beloved Hospitality Industry.

Chairman, NRD Patrons

Brian J Turner CBE, FIH, FCGI

Brian Turner is said to be one of Britain’s most well-known chefs having trained at Simpson’s in the Strand, The Savoy, The Beau Rivage in Lausanne and Claridge’s.

In 1971 he opened the kitchens of The Capital Hotel with Richard Shepherd where they won a then rare Michelin star. In 1986 he opened his own restaurant Turner’s in Walton Street, Chelsea. After fifteen years of success he opened restaurants in Birmingham and Slough and in 2003 at The Millennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London. Then opening Turner’s in Butlins, Bognor Regis between 2010 – 2017.

Turner is the President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts which he has combined with a successful career as a TV personality. Ready Steady Cook which was such a successful programme for 14 years as well as many appearances on This Morning, Saturday Kitchen, Saturday Morning with James Martin etc and his own shows ‘A Taste of Britain’ and ‘My Life on a Plate’ with the BBC.

In June 2002 in the Queen’s birthday honours list Turner was awarded a CBE for his services to tourism and training in the catering industry. Since then Turner has been made an Honorary Professor of The University of West London, Honorary Fellow and Visiting Professor, University College Birmingham, a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute as well as receiving Honorary Doctorates of Science at Leeds Metropolitan and Sheffield Hallam Universities. Turner has received an Honorary Apprenticeship Award which he feels complements his work with the Adopt a School scheme and the Future chef competition which both encourage young people to come into the catering industry.

Brian plays an active role in campaigns to encourage British people to get back into the kitchen and enjoy cooking even more.

In the little spare time that Turner has he enjoys supporting England in all sports, occasional trips to the horse races and is very proud to have recently been made Honorary Vice President of Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band, brass band music being a great love of his.

Jane AsherJaneAsher-2 (2)

Jane Asher is an actress, author and businesswoman. She has worked in film, theatre and radio since she was 5 years old and has also written over a dozen books, including cookery books and three best-selling novels. She recently starred in An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre, London and is currently touring in Noel Coward’s ‘A Song at Twilight’ with Simon Callow at the Theatre Royal, Bath.

She ran her business, Jane Asher Party Cakes in Chelsea, for 25 years selling bespoke celebration cakes and everything needed for sugarcraft. Her instructional YouTube videos on cake decorating received over three million views.

Jane was the first celebration cake designer for Sainsbury’s. She collaborated with Debenhams and Matalan, designing successful ranges of cookware under her brand. She recently launched a successful new range of bakeware, houseware, cake mixes and other food items in Home Bargains’ 450+ stores.

Jane’s work in the charity sector, for which she has received two honorary doctorates, is well respected. She is President of Parkinson’s UK, of the National Autistic Society and of Versus Arthritis; Vice President of Autistica; Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust; Friend for Life, Terrence Higgins Trust and a Patron of many other organisations. She sits on the advisory panel for the US Association for Science in Autism Treatment. 

Jane is a judge each year in the pastry section of the Annual Awards of Excellence for the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and is delighted to be a Patron of the NRD.  

Geoff Booth FIHGeoff Booth

Geoff is a Director of The Skills Republic organisation, an advisor to the PACE network and the founder of the British Californian (BritCA) Food Development Foundation.

He now divides his time between London and Marseille, having established a Food and Wine training offer in the South of France and an expanding Apprenticeship training service in London.

He is currently collaborating on food-based projects with international schools in the USA, Mexico, Panama, Brazil and China.

He is leading a team in the introduction of British Apprenticeship training in China and in London.  he is advising companies on the Apprenticeship levy Tax, as well as working with them in the provision of Leadership and Management Training.

A Catey Award winner, for services to education and training and former Head at Westminster College in Vincent Square, he advises colleges and universities in developing collaborative commercial activities with hospitality employers.

Educated to Master’s Degree level, he is a member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a graduate of the Henley School of Management.

A trustee of the Forte Foundation, the Harrison Foundation and the Goring Hotel School, all dedicated to providing support and opportunities for new talent wishing to join the hospitality sector.

Karen Browne Karen photo

Karen is Non Executive Chairman of The Staff Canteen, a specialist media business including the UK’s largest community for professional and student chefs, boasting over 68,000 members and 400,000 social media followers.

She sold William Murray Communications, the UK’s leading food, drink and hospitality communications agency in 2017 having spent 19 years at the helm.  Before joining William Murray in 1998 as Managing Director, Karen worked in marketing positions under Unilever, Allied Lyons, Douwe Egberts and Brasilia UK Ltd.

Since 2008 Karen’s been listed in the ‘Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Leaders’ and in 2011 was voted as one of the top 100 most influential women in industry.

Whilst not working so many hours these days, her passion and enthusiasm for the industry remains.  She remains a supporter of Hospitality Action, the industry’s charity and is a Guardian member having previously been a patron for the charity.  She spent 10 years on the board of Arena, the hospitality networking association and was on The Craft Guild of Chefs’ steering committee.

Equal to her passion for food, Karen’s appetite to see young chefs develop their careers remains and she continues to give her time to help to raise the profile of both The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and The Craft Guild of Chef’s.

When not spending time with her family, you’ll find Karen riding and competing her horses and exploring new restaurants and food concepts.

Brian Clivaz FIHBrian Clivaz

Brian Clivaz is a well-known fuller figure in the hotel and restaurant world. His career began at The Dorchester Hotel working with Anton Mosimann. He trained in Paris at L’Hôtel Plaza Athénée and L’Hôtel Meurice. He was Duty Manager at the Mandarin Hyde Park Hotel and transferred to Dubai to help establish the Dubai International Hotel. He became MD of the Fourways Inn, Bermuda and then MD of Simpson’s-in-the-Strand. He was the founding Director of Home House private members’ club and MD of Scott’s Restaurant, Mayfair.

In 2005 he became MD of The Arts Club and oversaw its transformation into London’s most exclusive and fashionable private members’ club. In 2016 he opened Devonshire Club, a luxury private members’ club in the City of London.  He is Chairman of L’Escargot restaurant, Soho; London’s oldest French restaurant and Chairman of Boulestin in St James’ and Motcombs in Belgravia.  He is currently developing a new private members’ club in Belgravia.

Brian is a Freeman of the City of London, Liveryman – The Worshipful Company of Cooks.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, Fellow of the Institute of Tourism, Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the Linnean Society and former President of The Reunion des Gastronomes.  He has a Hon. MBA from the University of London. He has been advisor to a number of private members’ clubs including, 50 St. James’, the Café Royal, and Keeper’s House, Royal Academy, 10 Trinity Square and 1880 Singapore.

He loves gardening, smoking cigars and his beloved Bulldog Doris.

Michael Druitt 

For 60 years Michael Druitt has worked with the top restaurants and hotels in London and around the country. His career began as an apprentice in the cellars of Brown, Gore and Welch and then as a salesman for the company. In 1962 Michael moved as a Director to Mentzendorff and so began a long association with champagne. In 1975 he left Bollinger to set up his own wine company and soon acquired the UK agency for Perrier-Jouet Champagne, Berberana Rioja and Brown Brothers Australian wines. He has been on the judging panel of the Master Sommelier competition, and is a past Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. Until recently he was to be seen at many of the London on-trade tastings and events supporting the work of HallgartenDruitt & Novum Wines, but is now retired.

Ciarán Fahy FIH MI Ciaran Fahy small

Ciarán is Head of Hotels, Spartan Advisors Limited: Director of The Beaumont Hotel London since January 2019.  Spartan advise Spartan Investment Management, which manages capital, acquisition and investment for institutional investors and family offices, acquired The Beaumont Hotel London in September 2018. 

Chief Executive of the Hotels Division of Ellerman Investments Ltd and Director of The Ritz London from 2014 to 2018 and prior to that was Managing Director of The Cavendish London for seven years, owned and operated by Ellerman.

Ciarán graduated from Shannon College of Hotel Management in 1986 and was General Manager of several small country house hotels before joining Whitbread Hotel Company in 1990.  He spent twelve years with Whitbread Hotel Company holding four General Management positions, moved as General Manager of Cardiff Marriott in 2000 to manage the £21m investment project to convert the 400 room Swallow International Hotel and reopen as London Marriott Kensington in 2003.  Awarded Marriott International Global GM of The Year Award in 2005.

Ciarán is a member of the Executive Committee of Master Innholders and Fellow of The Institute of Hospitality, Honorary Fellow of Westminster Kingsway College for support of industry education.  Chairman of the Jermyn Street Association and The London Committee of the UK Hospitality Association, Board Member of the Heart of London Business Alliance sitting on the Finance and Governance Committee.

Ciarán is married to Catherine and has two sons Ieuan 12 and Paddy 10.

Roland Fasel

Roland Fasel was appointed Chief Operating Officer for Aman in 2017.  He oversees all facets of Aman’s intricate hotel and private residence operations and defines the future vision and strategy of the brand.

Formerly General Manager at The Dorchester and Regional Director for Dorchester Collection, Mr Fasel has over 25 years of experience within the hospitality industry.  Like many leaders in hospitality, his career began at Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland.  He later gained an MBA from the Golden Gate University San Francisco and has been awarded an Honorary Master’s Degree from the University of West London and a Professeur Honoraire de l’Ecole Hôtelière Lausanne.

His experience has seen him open, renovate and reposition hotels across three continents.  His career includes some of the most renowned hotels and brands including Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz, Four Seasons, Regent Hotels, Shangri-La and his eight year tenure with the Dorchester Collection where in his dual role he was instrumental in growing their business, overseeing new openings, residences, spa and the repositioning of the brand.

He has focused on Corporate Social Responsibility and has supported charities including the Honeypot Children’s Charity, Fashion for the Brave, several military related charities as well as supporting the English National Ballet.  He established the Tree Lighting Charity in St Moritz, Switzerland which now raises an average of Swiss Francs 200k every year for the Institute of Disability and Blind Ski School.

Roland splits his time between Switzerland and London and has two children who are at university.

Sir Rocco Forte FIH

Sir Rocco Forte is Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels.  Founded in 1996, the luxury hotel company operates 11 hotels in key European destinations such as London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Florence, Rome, Sicily, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. In February 2017 the company opened Assila Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and three further hotels will open in 2019, one in Rome, Puglia and Shanghai.

Sir Rocco was knighted in December 1994 for services to the UK tourism industry and received the highest Italian accolade, the Gran Croce dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, for his entrepreneurial merits and strong links with Italy in March 2005. From 1991-1996, he was President of the British Hospitality Association (the main trade body for the UK hotel and catering industry) and has also been an active member of the Executive Committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Born in Bournemouth on 18 January 1945, Sir Rocco was educated at Downside School in England and went on to read modern languages at Pembroke College, Oxford. After graduating, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1969, later becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1979. Sir Rocco is married to Lady (Aliai) Forte and has three children, Lydia, Irene and Charles.

A keen sportsman, Sir Rocco represented Britain at the World Triathlon Championships in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007. His other interests include shooting and golf.

Professor David Foskett MBE CMA FIH BED HONS David Foskett

Professor Foskett is Visiting Professor at several Universities and Colleges in the UK, Europe and Asia. Executive in Residence at Sheffield Hallam University and Fellow of Westminster Kingsway.  Chair of the International Hospitality Council.  Consultant on training and hospitality education to the International hospitality industry currently working on projects in Italy, Malta, Bangladesh, India and the Middle East.

Professor Foskett is a member of The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Craft Guild of Chefs and a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality.  Currently he is working with the Royal College of General Practitioners and The Tulane Medical School in New Orleans promoting Culinary Medicine. Work is ongoing to develop a Centre for Culinary Medicine at Westminster Kingsway; University College London will send Medical Students to Westminster Kingsway to learn Culinary Medicine alongside culinary students.

He is co-author of Practical Cookery Levels 1, 2 and 3, Theory of Hospitality and Catering, Food and Beverage Management, Hospitality Supervision These books have sold over 3 million copies and are used in 140 countries. He also co-developed dynamic learning technology. His last public lecture received over 3 million hits via Facebook.

He has won many awards over the past 40 years, including a Queens Anniversary Award for exemplary Hospitality Education.  British Hospitality Association Centenary Award for exemplary Hospitality Education. He has also been voted one of the most influential people in the hospitality public sector.  In 2005 he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen and in 2007 a Chevalier dans l’ordre du Merite Agricole from the President of France.  

Jeremy Goring MIHThe Goring Hotel

Soon after graduating from the Lausanne Hotel School in 1988, Jeremy Goring began his career working at the Four Seasons and The Lanesborough in London, followed by a stint of opening hotels for Rosewood in Mexico, the Caribbean and Indonesia. He then went on to manage the Observatory for Orient Express Hotels in Sydney, before returning to the UK in 2005 to join the family firm as Chief Executive. Jeremy is proud to continue striving for innovation and excellence on behalf of The Goring and his guests, an ethos upheld since its opening by Jeremy’s great grandfather O.R.Goring, in 1910.

Patrick Gwynn-Jones MBE  

Catering has always been Patrick Gwynn-Jones’ passion. After careers in the navy, as a photographer in the music and theatre business and as a specialist with the Hairlok/Texofoam Group he decided to enter the catering business.

Pomegranates Restaurant on Grosvenor Road opened in 1974 and offered an eclectic menu based on the dishes that Patrick had enjoyed during his travels, making it one of the first restaurants to offer a multi-cuisine menu.
Thanks to Patrick’s photography and show business connections, Pomegranates became a hot spot with a clientele of music, theatre, cinema and politics, including royalty. In 2000 Patrick was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his work for The Restaurant Association.

Julia Hands MBE

Julia is the Chairman and Chief Executive of Hand Picked Hotels Holdings (Guernsey) Ltd, a unique collection of 20 country house hotels across the UK and the Channel Islands.

Julia studied Classics and Law at King’s College Cambridge. She then passed Law Finals at The School of Law, Chancery Lane, London. She joined Linklaters & Paines as an articled clerk in 1984 and qualified as a solicitor in 1986. Julia remained with Linklaters until 1996.  In 2001 she took over the management of Hand Picked Hotels becoming the company’s CEO and Chairman.

Julia has acquired numerous accolades for herself and the hotel collection.  Hand Picked Hotels has twice won AA Hotel Group of the Year.  Julia was awarded an MBE for services to the Hospitality Industry in 2008.

Tim Jones 

Following the merger of CH&Co with HCM Group in May 2015, Tim became Chairman of the Board of Directors for the new company, CH&Co Group. However, his connection to the company goes back to 1991 when he established CH&Co with his late wife Robyn.

He originally trained as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse and was Financial Controller of Marvel Comics between 1986 and 1990. At the time CH&Co began in 1991, Tim was Financial Director of RWS, one of Europe’s largest technical translation companies, a role that he performed in parallel with that of guiding CH&Co’s finances, until he relinquished this position in 2000 to concentrate full-time on CH&Co.

Tim has always been actively involved in all aspects of the business, focusing principally on strategic direction, business planning and client relations. He played a pivotal role in acquiring Chester Boyd in 2007 and in establishing CH&Co’s public catering division. Tim’s financial acumen and business flair always complemented Robyn’s vision and drive.

Tim worked closely with Bill Toner to create the new CH&Co Group and the company has continued to grow both organically and through strategic partnerships.  In 2016 it merged with the Brookwood Partnership, significantly increasing its presence in the education catering market and in 2017 Harbour & Jones and Concerto Group joined the CH&Co family.  In May 2018 the business defined its place of strength in the highly-competitive market place with a new simplified structure and identity under the respected name, CH&CO.

Tim is a Trustee for the industry charities, Hospitality Action and the PM Trust, and is also actively involved in several other charities and organisations. 

Stephen Moss CBE, FIHStephen Moss

Stephen trained as a lawyer and took an MBA at the London Business School. In the 1980s Stephen ran Drakes Pond Place Restaurant; worked alongside Roy Ackerman, Richard Shepherd and Antony Worrall‑Thompson at 190 Queens Gate and was Michael Druitt’s partner at Michael Druitt Wines. Stephen then grew BCP into the country’s largest airport parking booking service until its sale in 2007 and his return to the hospitality sector.

Stephen’s roles since have included Chairmanship of Bibendum PLB Group until its sale in 2016.   Amongst his current portfolio of directorships, in the hospitality sector, he is Chairman of fast-growing Mr Lee’s Pure Foods and the senior non-executive Director at the AIM listed pan-European youth hostel group, Safestay PLC.

Stephen founded Springboard Charity, which helps young, disadvantaged and unemployed find life‑changing opportunities in hospitality.   He was the longest serving Trustee of the Hospitality Training Foundation and its successor, People 1st and remains a Vice President of The Restaurant Association.  He was awarded an MBE in 1992 and CBE in 2002.

Kevin OakesKevin Oakes

Kevin Oakes, Chairman of Royal Crown Derby, and previously Chief Executive of Steelite International, has over 40 years’ experience in the ceramic tableware industry. He is President of the British Ceramic Confederation, Chairman of the BPMF (British Pottery Manufacturers Federation) (Trustee) Ltd,  and is also a Board Member of The Clay Foundation.  Kevin was a previous winner of the EY Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year award and in 2013 was presented with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade Category.  Kevin was recognised with an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University in recognition of his distinguished career and his championing of the ceramics industry and UK manufacturing.

Royal Crown Derby was established in 1750 and is a world-leading manufacturer of fine bone china tableware and giftware, with all of its products made entirely in England.  The company became known as ‘Crown Derby’ after receiving its first of many Royal Warrants from King George III in 1775.  Queen Victoria bestowed the title ‘Royal’ in 1890 thus creating the company name of “Royal Crown Derby.”

Kevin acquired Royal Crown Derby in 2016, as a result of which the company is now focussed upon supplying the hospitality industry with high quality fine bone china tableware which is made exclusively in Derby, England.  Operating in over 50 countries, Royal Crown Derby’s distinguished clientele includes Core by Clare Smyth, The Dorchester, L’Oscar and the Cinnamon Club.

Ramon Pajares OBE, FIH

Ramon Pajares’ professional life – always in the hotel industry – has taken him to many countries, holding differing responsibilities in companies at the top end of the market including Regional Vice President for Four Seasons Europe and Chief Executive of the Savoy Group of Hotels and Restaurants.

Ramon’s tenure at the Savoy Group has been recognised throughout the industry as the most successful period of improvement for the company. Since retiring from the Savoy Group he participates very actively with a number of organisations in voluntarily helping the general improvement of the industry. He was awarded an OBE in 1999 in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list and is currently a member of the Master Innholders, the Board of Governors of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, the Institute of Hospitality and past Chairman of the Savoy Educational Trust.

Tracey Rogers Tracey Rogers portrait

Tracey was Managing Director of Unilever Food Solutions UK and Ireland, one of the world’s leading food companies, before retiring in 2017.  Previously she worked as Chairman of Unilever for Central Europe and Vice President of the European Personal Care business.

Her personal drive to see responsible business high on boardroom agendas saw Unilever Food Solutions and the wider industry make significant inroads into tackling waste and doing the right thing.

Tracey’s responsible business commitments extend to increasing opportunities for all within the industry. As a trustee for Hospitality Action she helped industry colleagues in need find their feet again. Tracey also mentored for Women 1st, where she helped women realise their career ambitions.

It’s this passion for making a difference that saw Tracey recognised in the Top 100 of the most influential women in hospitality and tourism in 2011.

In her own time, Tracey sits on the Fund Disbursement Committee for Genetic Disorders UK, working to improve the lives of those affected by genetic disorders. She has a BA in Politics from the University of Exeter and is on their business school advisory panel.

She’s a proud mum to her two children. When not spending time with her family, Tracey can be found fine dining, walking, or tending her rose garden with her husband Jon.

Richard Shepherd CBE, FIH  Richard Shepherd

Driven by an innate love of food and flair for cooking, Richard Shepherd’s career began as an apprentice in 1960 at the Mount Pleasant Hotel in Worcestershire.  After periods at The Savoy, The Grand Hotel, Cap Ferrat, France, followed by a couple of years at La Reserve de Beaulieu, being the first Englishman to be a Chef de Partie, he returned to London’s Dorchester, where he was offered the position of successor to Eugene Kauffler, but decided to take a position at The Capital Hotel, another first, being the first Englishman to gain a Michelin Star in London, 1974.  Richard decided to change direction and joined Langan’s in 1977, which went on to become one of London’s most iconic restaurants.

His concern for recruitment, education and the future of his profession motivates his tireless efforts to encourage aspiring young chefs. He is a member of the original chef’s Club Nine, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and,  from being an active member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts since 1980, he was offered the position of Chairman in 1986 and appointed Honorary President in 2004. In 2005 he received an Honorary Professorship from the University of West London. He was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours  2000 for services to the hospitality industry.

He retired five years ago and now lives in the South of France, where he believes he has found his soul.  He says “After 52 years, I was becoming a Dinosaur in London and didn’t understand what was happening.  I have now rekindled my love of real cooking”.   He considers one of his greatest achievements was to be given three Catey Awards, not one for cooking!

Alastair Storey OBE, FIHAlastair Storey

Founder, Chairman and CEO of WSH Ltd, the UK’s largest independent hospitality business and owner of BaxterStorey, Benugo, Searcys, Portico, Holroyd Howe and Caterlink.

Alastair was named the most influential person in hospitality in The Caterer’s 2012 Top 100 and again in 2018.  He is a fervent champion of the hospitality industry outside of his WSH activities.  In addition to being a patron of the Edge Hotel School, he co-founded and acts as chairman of the trustees of the front-of-house-focused Gold Service Scholarship.  In 2016 he was named president of the Institute of Hospitality and became the first food service operator to be inducted into the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame.  He is governor of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

In 2017 he was made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the hospitality industry.

He holds a BA in Hotel and Catering Management and has further qualifications from other institutions, including Harvard Business School. He is also one of the Hot 100 entrepreneurs ranked by Strathclyde University’s Essential alumni entrepreneurial network.

Mike Sunley Mike Sunley

Mike is Chief Executive of Lexington Catering.

Mike started his career at Compass in London as a graduate management trainee. After holding a number of senior management positions, he left to join High Table as an operations manager. Mike was appointed operations director three years later and was made board director in 1999 with responsibility for all operations in London and group responsibility for personnel and training.

Mike founded Lexington in 2002, having a desire to form a business that put food and people right back at the heart of the organisation. He has since steered the business to £40m turnover winning a Catey Award for Foodservice Caterer of the Year in 2013 along the way. In 2014 the business was acquired by Groupe Elior, Mike continues as CEO of Lexington and additionally sits on the Leadership Board of Elior UK.


Bill Toner FIH

Bill, who is a chef by trade, joined Gardner Merchant after a two-year stint in France and he rapidly rose through the ranks to become the UK & Ireland Managing Director of its £600m B&I catering business. Following its sale to Sodexo, in 2000 he joined global catering giant, ARAMARK, as CEO of its UK subsidiary growing the company from £150m to £400m turnover in just five years through a combination of major organic growth, acquisition and entrance to new markets.  Bill was at the forefront of developing joint venture relationships and initiatives with leading chefs and has worked closely with Gary Rhodes, Brain Turner, Gordon Ramsay and Giorgio Locatelli in the past.  He was awarded a Catey for Foodservice Caterer of the Year in 2002.

Following an IPO in 2005, Bill chose to retire early but was tempted back in 2010 when he became a shareholder and CEO of Host Management, a small catering company, but one with huge potential for growth. Bill’s stewardship saw growth outperform the industry norm and Host integrated four mergers and acquisitions, including the merger with Catermasters in 2014, to create the HCM Group, a £60m turnover national catering company.

Bill worked closely with Robyn and Tim Jones to pull together the merger of HCM and CH&Co in 2015 and to create CH&Co Group.  Under Bill’s leadership as CEO, CH&Co Group has grown significantly through organic growth and strategic partnerships into a diverse and exciting business.  In 2016 it merged with the Brookwood Partnership, significantly increasing its presence in the education catering marketing, and in 2017 Harbour & Jones and Concerto Group joined the CH&Co family.  In May 2018, the business defined its position of strength in the highly-competitive marketplace with a new, simplified structure and identity under the respected name, CH&CO.  Bill now leads CH&CO in the next stage of its evolution.

Ed Vokes 

As Director of Evolve Hospitality, Ed Vokes’ passion and  belief in uncompromising customer service and his insight into his clients’ needs, were the catalysts that led to the birth of the company in 2012, his mandate being to provide practical vetted staff to the industry.  This has allowed him to develop long standing relationships with major national UK contract caterers, hotels, bespoke event companies and stadia.

Back of house candidates are required to undertake a practical skills test during the registration process to ensure an accurate skills match to clients requirements and front of house candidates must attend an in-house induction and training day which is accredited by People 1st and Academy of Food & Wine.  Evolve consultants endorse Ed’s vision as they are all directly from the hospitality industry.

Ed’s persistent energy, care and true interest in the industry is evident in his involvement with the Craft Guild of Chefs, ACE as a Gold Member and National Chef of the Year where Evolve has been a co-sponsor for the last 5 years.  His continual contribution to the industry was acknowledged by the Craft Guild of Chefs in 2016 by awarding him ‘Ambassador to the Industry’.

Ed’s dedication and tireless hard work led to him being awarded Most Inspiring Recruitment Agency Leader at the 2018 Recruiter Investing in Talent Awards.  He was also winner of the Business Leader of the Year title at the 2017 IRP Awards where Evolve was also named the Best company to Work for (up to 50 employees).  Ed is a proud Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and works closely with their Adopt a School charity.