Sponsored by Oliver Kay
As the battle between foodservice operators and the high street continues to rage, Green & Fortune's chef director Jason Wild is on the frontline in central London.
It's been 10 years since the company began offering its blend of events and retail in Kings Place, and over that time the surrounding area has been drastically rejuvenated. The old King's Cross station gave way to the new in 2012, and developments along the Regent's Canal have seen the launch of a range of casual dining and elite restaurants surfing on a wave of the latest culinary trends.
The full launch of the neighbouring Coal Drops Yard – which brought in hospitality leading lights Pip Lacey, Alain Ducasse and Anthony Demetre – coincided with Green & Fortune's 10th anniversary. The company decided to celebrate with a £1.5m refurbishment of all of its spaces in Kings Place.
The rejuvenation of its food offering was spearheaded by Wild, who has pulled together an offering as engaging as the scene emerging around the building. The kitchen of Rotunda, Green & Fortune's principal venue, was moved from the building's lower level to the heart of the restaurant, creating a dynamic, open operation, with new equipment including a Big Green Egg charcoal barbecue cooker and a robata grill. This was accompanied by a refreshed reverence for ingredients and a reframing of the restaurant to emphasise the relationship between the company and its own Corneyside Farm – a farm-led menu and a meat-ageing cabinet were introduced.
Breathing new life into the building called for new growth from its staff. Wild, a consummate trainer, began a two-month education programme to make staff feel comfortable with their new surroundings and help front and back of house work in their new territory.
His approach brought a 19% growth boost in the first six months after Rotunda reopened. Meanwhile, his refurbishment of the Green & Fortune café saw a new kitchen added and a chef on-site at all times. The boosted menu offering has grab-and-go options, and there are new local supplier relationships, including one with Fergus Henderson's St John group, which supplies bread and bagels.
On top of all the grand strategies, Wild's ability to engage with staff and spot talent has been notable. As hands-on in a culinary setting as in the corporate world, he personally trains each chef who works under him, developing camaraderie and enfranchising them while gaining a full overview of their skills. It is from here that he has allowed staff to grow and develop, promoting two kitchen porters to commis chef positions over the past year and working on the recruitment and mentoring of Phil Kendall as executive chef of the company's second site, Sea Containers in central London. The business's operations director Emma Williams puts Wild's success with staff simply: "People want to work with Jason."
What the judges said
"A worthy winner who unanimously rose to the top of a strong set of entries. He clearly goes above and beyond in all the areas that matter."
Chris Stern, director, Stern Consultancy
"Jason has achieved a lot in his current role and been instrumental in the relaunch of Kings Place."
Simon Houston, co-founder, Houston & Hawkes
Scott Dineen BaxterStorey
Jason Wild Green & Fortune
Daniel Wilson ISS Food Services
Adam Thomason Restaurant Associates
Dennis Mwakulua Restaurant Associates
Steve Land Gather & Gather
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