Chef-restaurateur Arthur Potts Dawson is the co-founder and executive head chef/director of London's first eco-friendly training restaurants, the 66-seat, two-AA-rosette Acorn House and the 64-seat Water House.
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They represent a collaboration between Potts Dawson's Bliss Restaurant Consultancy, the Shoreditch Trust (a charitable regeneration agency) and HIV and sexual awareness organisation the Terence Higgins Trust.
Arthur Potts Dawson and his partner in both ventures, restaurateur Jamie Grainger-Smith, were both instrumental in launching Jamie Oliver's first, London-based Fifteen restaurant which trains disadvantaged youngsters.
The London-born, 36-year-old nephew of rock icon Mick Jagger has enjoyed a busy and distinguished career that began in 1987 at the age of 16 with a three-year apprenticeship with the Michelin-starred Roux Brothers, working at Gavvers, Les Trois Plats, Le Poulbot, and Boucherie La Martine. He followed this up with stints at the seminal 1990s brasserie Kensington Place restaurant and, in 1993, at London's three-Michelin-star La Tante Claire.
After four years honing his skills in France, Australia and New Zealand, Potts Dawson returned to the UK in 1997 as sous chef of London's River Café (the launchpad for Jamie Oliver's career) where he remained for three years.
At the turn of the Millennium, Arthur Potts Dawson then fronted Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood's Harrington Club as executive chef, launched the Terra Sana restaurant chain in Spain, and relaunched Cecconi's (one of London's oldest Italian restaurants) before taking on the role of executive head chef at Oliver's Fifteen in 2002. He was charged with making the venture profitable alongside restaurant manager, former River Café colleague and partner-to-be Grainger-Smith.
The two hatched their plans for a sustainable and ethical restaurant concept in 2005, which they married to the charitable organisations' desire to set up a training restaurant for the local community.
Acorn House opened in Swinton Street during November 2006 on the site of the Terence Higgins Trust's new headquarters at King's Cross with Potts Dawson as executive chef. The Water House in Orsman Road followed in February 2008 on the banks of a canal in Hoxton.
"Our food is centred around the key elements of health, training, community and environment. We hope that Acorn House will be a pioneering force in new restaurant management, which will benefit both the local population and those further afield," Potts Dawson says of the venture. "By sharing our beliefs with a young, local workforce, we are hoping to spread that message far and wide."
The restaurants aim to fully train 10 young adults each year from the local community by means of internal and external placements, college, work experience and scholarships.
The restaurants use recycled and organic materials, purify their own water on-site, recycle all kitchen and packaging waste and maximise the use of natural light so electric illumination is needed only in the evenings.
The Water House goes a step further by using a heat-transference system in the canal to provide hot and cold water and air conditioning, while the electric kitchen incorporates water-based fridges that make use of hydroelectricity.
Bliss Restaurant Consultancy, which Potts Dawson set up in 2005, is currently working on the Dirt Café project which taps into the 'slow food' concept.
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