McKellar, who with wife and business partner Pamela owns four restaurants and pubs in and around Brighton, will work with Chartwells to 'bring a local flavour' to the menus at the university's nine cafes and restaurants while ensuring there are options to suit all tastes and budgets.
He said: "I am hugely passionate about creating great food using fresh, local produce and this relationship with the University of Sussex and Chartwells is a brilliant opportunity to educate people about all the fantastic produce we have available in Sussex. It will also give the university a real taste and flair for Brighton's local food scene, keeping it up-to-date with the highly-creative food movement which we enjoy here in the city.”
Chartwells, part of Compass Group, has run the cafe at the University's Innovation Centre for the last nine years, but has just been awarded a new 10-year contract worth £43m to run all dining operations from this September, serving 13,000 students and 2,000 members of staff.
As well as shaking up menus, the caterer plans to invest £1m over the next five years in refurbishments of the cafes and in providing extended opening hours for students.The new contract will also see the creation of another 35 jobs and the creation of work placement opportunities to students.
Chartwells managing director Robin Mills said: “We have great plans to really enhance the dining experience for students and staff; this starts with the menus and we are really excited to be working with Ben McKellar on these.
“Students today want a range of options that deliver great value for money while also meeting their ethical expectations. Our offer will rival the very best of the high street while supporting local, sustainable and Fairtrade suppliers to provide fresh, tasty food with clear provenance for customers.”
John Duffy, registrar and secretary of the University of Sussex, said the university was 'confident' it had made the right choice of catering partner.
"They have demonstrated that they have the right approach, systems, processes, technology, training and management to make a real difference to the services at Sussex,” he said.
McKellar, also known at The Ginger Chef, opened The Gingerman Restaurant at Brighton's Norfolk Square in 1998. His first pub, The Ginger Pig, opened in 2006 and he went on to open The Ginger Fox in Hassocks in 2008 before opening The Ginger Dog in Kemptown in 2010.