People on the move: February 2024

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

The key new chef, restaurant and hospitality appointments in February 2024

Related tags Tommy Banks The Black Swan at Oldstead Fine dining Kol Alice Power Callum Leslie Rey Lopez Mark Derry ukhospitality

New appointments at top restaurants The Black Swan at Oldstead and KOL are among the big people moves this month.

Tommy Banks Group

Alice Power, former senior sous chef, has been named head chef at Tommy Banks Group’s The Black Swan at Oldstead with the restaurant’s former head chef Callum Leslie promoted to executive chef of the group’s The Black Swan at Oldstead and The Abbey Inn venues. Power joined the Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms in Oldstead in October 2021 as chef de partie, having undertaken a series of stages with Banks and team since graduating from Leiths School of Food and Wine in 2019. Prior to moving to Oldstead, she spent time as chef de partie at Carousel in London. “I couldn’t have been more thrilled to join the restaurant back in 2021. It’s been the stand-out restaurant I’ve looked to since taking the step into kitchens – because of its dedication to constantly evolving and pushing our uses of what we can grow, forage and rear in this corner of north Yorkshire,” she says. Leslie was promoted to head chef at The Black Swan in 2021. In the new role, he will oversee all of the work across the farm and how the production and preservation drive the menus at both The Black Swan and The Abbey Inn, the 70-cover pub that launched just down the road in 2023. “I am delighted that Callum will be stepping into this new Exec role in our group,” says Banks. “Callum is a wonderfully creative chef but also has a 360 view on how to run restaurants and how to develop an incredible guest experience. We are totally aligned in our thinking and I am looking forward to working together more and pushing our restaurants to the next level, watch this space.”


Following the opening of a third site, Forza Wine at the National Theatre, Forza has made a number of hires to boost its management team. Adam Walford, who was previously head of retail and leisure at hospitality focused law firm lawyer Howard Kennedy, has been appointed chair with Claire Wright joining the group as operations manager. Wright previously held the role of operations director at Toklas in 2021 and prior to that worked at both Smokestak and Manteca. In a new role for the business, Anna Robinson has joined the group as head of digits. Joining the team from MJMK Restaurants, her latest position was marketing manager working with MJMK’s casual brands, with the most recent opening of Casa do Frango in Victoria last summer.



Rey Lopez has joined chef-patron Santiago Lastra and the team at KOL as the Mexican restaurant’s new head chef. Previously sous chef at Eleven Madison Park in New York, Lopez worked with Chef Daniel Humm from September 2019, helping the team evolve the restaurant to the vegan concept that opened in June 2021. “I’m delighted to join the team at KOL. Santiago’s perspective on celebrating Mexico through British ingredients is such a unique concept for the cuisine, and I’m looking forward to working with him,” he says.

Wright Brothers


Mark Derry has been appointed chairman of seafood specialist Wright Brothers. Derry, who is also Chairman of pub and brasserie group Heartwood Collection, will work with the seafood company, which operates three restaurants in London and an online fishmonger delivering fresh seafood nationwide to consumers, as well as two wholesale depots located in Brixham and Billingsgate.

The Sussex Ox


Toby Genee has been named head chef at Polegate-based gastropub The Sussex Ox. Genee has over a decade and a half of experience from his time spent ind kitchens around the world, including Plate in London, Merricote in Melbourne and most recently as head chef at Kindling in Brighton. He is joined by new sous chef Charlie Brookman, who has spent the past 10 years at The Chimney House in Brighton.



Allen Simpson has been appointed deputy chief executive of UKHospitality. He joins the trade body from London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s tourism, inward investment and city marketing agency, where he served as executive director and, in 2021, acting chief executive. In a new role, Simpson will provide strategic oversight across UKHospitality’s corporate social responsibility, policy and communications output. “I’m delighted to join UKHospitality as its first deputy chief executive and work with a sector that can be counted as one of the most integral and impactful in the country,” says Simpson. “I have seen first-hand in my career just how important hospitality, leisure and tourism is to the economy and our global competitiveness. It is a crucial provider of skilled careers across society, and I care deeply about it.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, adds: “Allen is a first-class addition to the UKHospitality team, bringing with him deep knowledge of the tourism sector and how to work across government and industry to deliver success. I know that he will be an invaluable member of the team and his appointment strengthens our ability to represent our members at a critical time.”

Umbel Restaurant Group

Mark McCabe has been named as the new head chef of Lake District restaurant Henrock by Simon Rogan. McCabe previously worked for four years as chef owner of The Ethicurean in Bristol and was part of the team at Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage in Dorset, after training in kitchens in Paris as well as Lancashire. He takes over from chef Cillian Hennessy, who is to become a development chef for Simon Rogan’s Aulis restaurant in Cartmel, which is attached to his three-Michelin-starred flagship L’Enclume.

Coaching Inn Group

RedCat Pub Company has announced that Kevin Charity, the founder and CEO of the Coaching Inn Group, will be retiring from his role at the end of March. He’ll be replaced by Richard Lewis, who will be taking on the role of CEO of RedCat Pub Company, comprising RedCat managed pubs, leased and tenanted pubs, as well as the Coaching Inn Group. Lewis joined RedCat in October last year having worked for Greene King as the MD of its local pubs division back in 2011, rising to become chief operating officer. “I would like to express my sincere thanks for all the help and support Kevin has given the team since RedCat acquired Coaching Inn Group [in 2021],” says Rooney Anand, founder and chairman of RedCat Pub Company. “Kevin has built an outstanding team and a compelling culture that delivers a customer service and experience second to none. Kevin's passion and entrepreneurial spirit have been instrumental in shaping the Coaching Inn Group into the thriving and winning business it is today. He leaves with our admiration, collective thanks, and sincere best wishes for the ‘next chapter’. I would also like to congratulate Richard on his appointment to the role of CEO of the group. He’s made a terrific impact since joining us and I know he will continue to drive momentum and success across Coaching Inn Group and RedCat.”


Asian-Inspired QSR brand Chopstix has appointed Rob King as its new finance director. King has previously worked in senior finance and commercial roles at Costa Coffee for 12 years, and most recently worked as the transformation director at Family First Day Nurseries. He replaces Jo Barrett who leaves Chopstix to join the family members’ club operator Little Houses Group. “We’re thrilled that Rob will be joining Chopstix. He has vast experience in this industry as a Finance Director and as a leader who has defined and driven the commercial strategy of many respected brands and businesses,” says Jon Lake, Chopstix managing director. “We have big ambitions for the brand, with our sights set on reaching over 300 sites across Europe by 2027 and Rob’s appointment is significant in ensuring we have the team in place to deliver this rapid growth.”

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