Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers, Wahaca

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers, Wahaca

Overall ranking: 80 (NEW ENTRY)Restaurateur ranking: 22 (NEW ENTRY)

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers - Snapshot

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers are the business partners behind the fast-growing Wahaca restaurant group. Since opening their first Wahaca in London's Covent Garden in 2007, Selby and Miers have taken their Mexican street food concept across the capital and have opened an average of two restaurants a year, one of which is a temporary structure on London's Southbank. They also operate a street food van which tours festivals and street food parties.

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers - Career guide

Both Selby and Miers have taken unconventional routes into the hospitality industry, but have accrued valuable experience in entrepreneurial activities and financial management along the way.

Mark Selby's working life encompassed Merrill Lynch, Easy Car and developing restaurant models with the Capricorn Group before he decided to open his own affordable Mexican restaurant in London and teamed up with Thomasina Miers.

Miers was winner of BBC 2's MasterChef in 2005. Her background had been in VAT consultancy, digital strategy and marketing before studying at the Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland in 2001. She opened a large cocktail bar in Mexico City in 2003, and then spent nearly a year in Mexico, learning about Mexican food. In 2005, following her MasterChef win, she spent six months at the Petersham Nurseries Café, working for head chef Skye Gyngell.

In August 2007, Miers and Selby jointly opened Wahaca, a restaurant serving fresh food inspired by the food markets of Mexico, using free-range meat, sustainable fish and committed to recycling.

They have accrued plenty of accolades for Wahaca, including the SRA's Sustainable Restaurant Group of the Year award in 2012, and have won various other awards for the sustainability of the business, the quality of the food and its value.

Wahaca has been rated as one of the top 10 fastest profitable growing restaurant businesses in this year's Zolfo Cooper Profit Tracker Report (April 2012 ).

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers - What we think

By building on a wealth of previous experience outside and around the industry, Miers and Selby have been able to grow the Wahaca brand, and Selby has stated his ambition to have a larger estate by 2015.

The brand has pushed out further with marketing innovations such as the bottled chilli sauce - A Dash of Wahaca - sold in the delicatessen area of the Charlotte Street restaurant and supermarkets.

Selby and Miers have also been helped pioneer the sustainability agenda by taking brave innovations such as putting Wahaca up for external third party sustainability assessments on restaurant builds (pioneered with Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors), recycling 90% of their waste (as certified by the Building Research Environmental Assessment Method) and educating customers on sustainable practices and encouraging customers to grow and cook at home (it has given away 10 million packets of chilli seeds to customers).

They are also unofficial promoters of Mexican culture and this year worked with the Mexican Embassy to stage a traditional Day of the Dead festival in the Old Vic Tunnels.

Selby and Miers are at the forefront of using social media to connect with their customers through initiatives such as online competitions, being a chilli guru and voting for dishes to be included on the menus of the main restaurants.

Miers who is also a food columnist, television personality and author of two books on Mexican food, looks set to have an even higher profile in 2013 when Wahaca takes up her Pig Idea campaign to lift restrictions on pigs being fed food waste from supermarkets and restaurants.

The Caterer and Hotelkeeper interview: Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby >>Mark Selby a minute on the clock >>

Wahaca to open recycled temporary restaurant on London's Southbank >>

MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers to launch second Wahaca >>

Wahaca unveils details of new Charlotte Street restaurant >>

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