Catering giant Compass Group's move to create its first UK executive chef role has been welcomed by food service industry figures.
Nick Vadis, currently executive chef for Compass division Eurest at British Airways, will take up the new position in August.
The move will also see the appointment of four executive chefs under Vadis at the group's four business divisions, the first of which has seen Jeremy Ford promoted from executive chef for Restaurant Associates Hospitality to overall executive chef for the RA group.
Compass said the move demonstrated "the central role culinary expertise takes" at the company. It follows some questions in the industry about the group's focus on food, following the appointment of executives from a number of non-catering backgrounds.
However, one source close to the company said the appointment was not linked to the management shake-up, instead suggesting the move showed the new leadership's commitment to quality food and a move away from brand building.
The move will also improve the "grassroots" aspects of Compass's business, according to another industry watcher, food service consultant Chris Stern.
"Compass produces some very high-quality food at certain contracts. But where it currently struggles is at its ‘bread-and-butter' sites, where there has been some de-skilling," Stern said.
"The appointment of a new chef team is a positive move as long as these guys can get stuck in at the grassroots of the business and affect change there, not just the top tier," he added.
Tim Cookson, chairman of food service consultancy the Litmus Partnership, added: "It's a great move and anything that helps rekindle a passion for food within the business has to be good for sector development."
• Compass secures Citigroup Deal
Compass Group's Restaurant Associates arm has successfully retained one of its largest and most prestigious contracts at investment bank Citigroup in London's Canary Wharf, Caterer has learnt. It is believed that the estimated £7m-a-year turnover contract, previously run under the Baxter & Platts brand, will now be run under the Restaurant Associates banner as part of the fine-dining division's restructuring announced earlier last month (Caterer, 31 May, page 7).
By Chris Druce
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