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Masters of more than one trade

27 August 2010 by
Masters of more than one trade

It seems everybody is at nowadays. Diversifying, I mean.

In this week's Caterer we http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/08/26/334828/Calcot-Manor-diversifies-into-outside-catering.htm" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">catch up with chef Jason Atherton ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/08/26/334788/jason-atherton-gets-ready-for-solo-opening.html)to find out why he parted company with Gordon Ramsay Holdings, but more importantly what he has in store at his first solo venture, Pollen Street Social Jason Atherton, which is due to open in January.

But not only is Atherton opening his own impressive, pioneering concept, encompassing London's first dessert bar, private dining and a chef's table, in addition to the 60-cover dining area, but he's also launching his restaurant group with a consultancy in Shanghai and a partnership with Restaurant Associates, the fine-dining arm of Compass.

Anyone with any business nous will tell you that running a fine-dining restaurant is far from a licence to print money and although Atherton's London outpost will no doubt be a success, he has sensibly spread the risk of this new and costly opening with some well-thought-out partnerships that complement Pollen Street Social.

Which is something that hotelier Richard Ball has been doing for some time at Calcot Manor. Since 1998, alongside the country house hotel's world-renowned spa and, arguably, one of Britain's most successful gastropubs, the Gumstool Inn, [Ball has operated an outside catering operationwhich is due to contribute £1.6m next year.

Crucially, he started small. Set-up costs, including an extension, storage area and van, were £100,000. But the main breakthrough came six years into its operation, when Ball bought his local competitor, William's Kitchen. The business has just blossomed since then.

And then there's the family-run Milsom Hotels & Restaurants which many of you will know started as a tea room in 1952 and now comprises four hotels, including Le Talbooth, and its spin-off, Talbooth Catering.

While the hospitality industry sees itself as very fragmented at times, the above's core skills - of offering a blend of bespoke hospitality with great food - can sit neatly in any sector. Spreading that load gives them an extremely secure vantage point during these challenging times.

Amanda Afiya, Web Editor, Caterersearch.com

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