People on the move in hospitality: April 2021

By BigHospitality

- Last updated on GMT

 Chef  Luke Thomas joins Sessions Market operator of Brighton’s Shelter Hall

Related tags: People, Craft guild of chefs, Chef

New appointments for Sessions Market, Crockers Henley and the Craft Guild of Chefs are among the big people moves of the past few weeks.

Sessions Market
Sessions Market, operator of Brighton’s Shelter Hall, is continuing to build its senior leadership team, ahead of an ambitious year of growth. Luke Thomas – who was dubbed ‘the UK’s youngest head chef’ when he took charge of Luke’s Dining Room at Sanctum on the Green back in 2012, aged 18 – has joined the group as creative culinary director, using his experience from launching award-winning restaurants and leading on the culinary creative for restaurants such as Blacks Club, Café Habana, Retro Feasts and Fast Fine Restaurant Group. Elsewhere, Abby Hughes, who has previously worked with both Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr., has been named as the head of special projects for Sessions Market; Ben O’Brien has been appointed COO, following his position as CEO of healthy deli and dining brand Market; and Ian Banks, previously of Soho House, has been appointed CFO. The hires come as the business plans the roll-out out of its community-focused food halls. The second site is scheduled to open by the end of 2021, and there are further plans for hospitality pop-ups and concepts throughout the year.

Andrew Steel Jamieson
Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa has appointed Andrew Steel Jamieson as its new general manager. Jamieson has held senior management positions including at the Galgorm Resort & Spa, and Crewe Hall Hotel and was also managing director at the Royal Demeure Hotel Group in Italy.

Leon Thompson
UKHospitality has announced that Leon Thompson has been appointed UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director, succeeding Willie Macleod who is stepping down from the role after nearly 10 years. Thompson, a highly regarded and influential senior political communications specialist, joins UKHospitality from VisitScotland. Thompson has led VisitScotland’s policy agenda since 2013 and has helped build influential networks among Ministers, MSPs, Cabinet Secretaries and key industry stakeholders. He has been instrumental in positioning the body as one of Scotland’s premier tourism and hospitality advocates. He will take up the role effective 4 ​May.



Alex Payne
Alex Payne has been named as the new head chef at restaurant with rooms Crockers Henley. The chef joins the Henley-on-Thames restaurant having worked at venues including the Michelin-starred The Latymer at Pennyhill Park, Heston Blumenthal’s Hind's Head in Bray, and at The Savoy Grill - Gordon Ramsay. Payne will head up Crocker’s 16-seater chef’s communal dining table, The Thames Chef’s Table.


Lewis Spencer
Lewis Spencer has returned to Shoreditch-based barbecue restaurant HotBox as executive head chef. The London-born chef played a key role in the development of the HotBox brand from its street food roots back in 2012 and his return signals a shift in focus towards HotBox all-fire cooking roots. Lewis is joining ahead of refurbishments taking place on the restaurant’s interior, as well as an update to the much-loved menu. His return will also bring ‘a renewed focus on provenance and quality’. 



Matt Owens
Matt Owens, development chef at Alliance Group, has been appointed chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs chair with Mark Reynolds, executive head chef of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, appointed to the position of vice chairman. Owens takes over the role from Andrew Bennett MBE, who stepped down in November 2020 due to ill health. Owens, who has previously held positions in some of London’s top five-star hotels such as The Four Seasons Park Lane and The Waldorf Hotel, joined Alliance Group as development chef in August 2021 and will continue his role there in parallel with the chairmanship.


Robert Richardson
The Institute of Hospitality (IoH) has appointed Robert Richardson as its new chief executive. Richardson, who takes over from Peter Ducker, was previously general manager of the Cave Hotel in Kent and, before that, general manager of The Grand in Folkestone. Working closely with IoH Chair Kellie Rixon, Richardson is tasked with leading and shaping the role of the institute as it seeks to adapt to a post-pandemic world and aspires to chartered status.


Strahan Wilson
Competitive socialising brand State of Play Hospitality has appointed Strahan Wilson as its new chief financial officer. Wilson joins from Cote Restaurants and has held a number of high-profile board level roles within the sector including a six-year stint at Yum! Brands.

Related topics: Chef, People, Restaurant

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