Inn Collection promotes food champion to tackle national chef shortage

Leading northern hospitality operator The Inn Collection Group is carving out a fresh way to counter a national shortage of chefs in the trade by growing talent from within.

The pubco has appointed Richard Moore as group development chef following the culinary exponent’s promotion from his role as head chef at the operator’s £4.5m The Commissioners Quay Inn in Blyth, Northumberland.

Having worked in some of London’s leading hotel kitchens and headed up the brigade in Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Theatre Royal for 11-years, where he cooked for royalty including Prince Charles as well as some of the biggest names in UK acting, Moore has set his sights on nurturing new and existing talent in kitchens across the group’s 10-strong and growing estate.

Moore (pictured front, with L to R Ben Robinson, Dan Smith and Jack Taylor) also plans to set up a chef’s training programme as the group continues its growth journey to more than double its portfolio by 2022.

Believing the key to maintaining quality and focus across the award-winning hospitality group, is to foster home-grown culinary talent from within, Moore said, “It’s no secret that there is a chronic shortage of chefs nationally. Long working hours and often unrealistic expectations has seen a dip in young people moving into the hospitality sector.

“The future of the hospitality industry and businesses like The Inn Collection Group lies in the hands of young people coming through. If you have the right environment, training and atmosphere, then people will want to get into the hospitality sector and, more importantly, feel valued and want to stay.

“Years ago young people, myself included, viewed going into a professional kitchen as a fantastic achievement. We need to revitalise that spirit, to open young people’s eyes to the genuine opportunities available within the industry and to encourage them to see a career as a chef as one worthy of their time and energy.

'I am extremely excited about taking on the challenge of building on our already strong creative team and nurturing our existing and future young talent.”

Moore added, “There can be a certain snobbishness about going to work for a pub group, but The Inn Collection Group was named the Best Pub Employer up to 500 employees in the national Publican Awards and were finalists in several categories of The Great British Pub Awards.”

Moore is already in talks with Northumberland College in Ashington to set up a new chef training programme for The Inn Collection Group and to introduce kitchen apprenticeships to the company, which currently employs 370 staff across its ten-strong sites.

Around 70 more jobs are set to be created with the opening of The Ambleside Inn in Ambleside in December and The Coniston Inn in Coniston in Spring 2020, both in the Lake District.

The Inn Collection Group’s managing director Sean Donkin believes employing and investing in local staff is paramount to the success of its venues.

Donkin said, “We tend to find that local people care more and also understand what it is our customers want and need, whether that be general advice on the area or recommendations on where to go for a day out.

“Richard is the ideal person to ensure we can continue to find, train and retain local people within the business. He is very good at imparting his own passion and care on to others.

“Food is massively important for us, and we pride ourselves on the consistently high standard we offer across all our pubs. We make no bones about the fact that we are not about fine dining. We are middle market offering good, honest food freshly prepared, cooked and eaten in intimate and relaxing surroundings.

“Our sales and growth back up this approach, and it’s an approach we are very firm about as we grow.”

The Alchemy-backed group will continue to seek out new development opportunities in the Lake District and Yorkshire as well as within its north east England heartland where the group has inns in Northumberland and County Durham.

The Inn Collection Group has a proven track record in delivering purpose-built inns, operating on a model that provides value-for-money accommodation, quality beverages and home-made pub fare served all day, 365 days a year.