Mary was born and brought up in Perth, Scotland, and went to Edinburgh University to read Geography, where she aced a First and a Masters in Volcanos and Glaciers. Whenever we have a query in the Fire and Ice department, Mary is our natural go-to resource.
After uni Mary set off to explore the world, and was for a time a High Adventure Chief in North Carolina, which is what Americans call 'a climbing instructor'. Australia and New Zealand followed, and such is the way of things, she ended up working in a pub on her return to Albion, pondering the route ahead.
She didn't ponder long, and soon entered the Whitbread Graduate Training Scheme, her career climb following an inexorably upward incline with posts as Area Manager, Ops Manager and Ops Director, finally summiting as Managing Director of Slug and Lettuce. Mary subsequently poured her DNA into the deep end of the B&P gene pool in the spring of 2014, when she took over the reins as Managing Director. So there you have it: a career path littered with mixed metaphors.
On a more personal note, as a wee thing Mary appeared on the Antiques Roadshow and Songs of Praise (we would so like to see a tape of that), and her grandfather was a Battle of Britain pilot. She plays the flute and curiously her ears don't match, so in a stiff breeze she has a tendency to gently rotate, in the manner of a rotary washing line hung with a bath towel on one side and a tea towel on the other.
Mary loves baking and regularly brings her trophies into the office, and by way of balance, is a fitness hound in her local gym and has completed two half-marathons. She is married to Paul and has two step-children, Alice and Jess, and her favourite cheese is Gorgonzola.
Operations Director (South)
After eight successful years with the Malmaison/Hotel Du Vin group working as General Manager in the beautiful city of Edinburgh Tom decided to sacrifice the rooms side of things and focus on his love for food and beverage joining pub life in 2010 coming on board as Operations Manager. Six fuzzy years later he now finds himself in the lofty position of Operations Director shepherding 30+ pubs and 3 operations managers in the South – it’s a tough job but somebodies got to do it! Originally from the Midlands Tom’s local watering hole was the Fox; he trained as a chef at University College Birmingham where he graduated with a Diploma and Degree (with none other than James Killick one of our other Southern Ops Managers) and spent 18 months sunning himself (and cheffing apparently) in South Carolina. He’s worked all over the country, from Birmingham to Glasgow, Hampshire to Surrey and everywhere in-between finally settling down with wife Claire, son Oscar, two cats and three fish in the rolling hills of Shropshire. He loves to cook, but all other hobbies have gone out the window with a 3 year old!
Starting out many years ago in the company as a chef, it was apparent Sal was passionate from day one. Apart from cooking, Sal's favourite pastime is travelling, spending a lot of time in Africa and Europe. He is a real fanatic of motorsport especially the Formula 1 variety, and spends most of his spare time with his wife Lara and two children Jake and Ava. After all this, any spare time goes towards Sal consuming grapes.....out of the bottle.
Ian has huge experience in all aspects of the pub world: since 1999 he has managed a wide variety of venues and some seriously busy pubs. He is a confirmed wine buff and a is a qualified wine educator for the Wines and Spirits Education Trust, as well as being a self confessed foodie with a love of cooking. He is a family man with two children, and enjoys gardening, walking and a bit of DIY.
Helen first joined us as manager of the Refectory before leaving to become an area operations manager for Peach pubs. The good news is we poached her back. Helen is very up-beat and positive, and has an vibrant 'can do' attitude to all things. She is an adventurous soul with a love for travel, having skydived over the Great Barrier Reef, climbed Kilamanjaro, walked the Great Wall of China, and trekked the Camino De Santiago no less than three times. It's all too exhausting for the rest of us.
Florence is now considered a part of the fixtures and fittings, having been mining away in accounts for over 25 years, where she started shortly after her arrival from Sri Lanka. She loves cooking and going out, her favourite dish being curry and rice. She would like to go on lots of holidays but Lorna won't let her.
Fidelis knows his way around his books, having worked for The Restaurant Group for over 20 years. He enjoys all sorts of sports including golf, squash and hockey, and is no stranger to a sport-related black eye. He was the youngest player to represent his town in the National Hockey League, but he has a lot to live up too - his wife's uncle played hockey for Kenya in four Olympic games!
Agnes joined us from Deep Pan Pizza and has been working here since 2006. She likes to tuck into king prawns and a nice bit of sea bass, and swims to make up for it. She enjoys nothing better on a sunny day than sitting in the garden with a good book, in the company of her three cats, Daisy, Billy and Gizmo.
Leila's real name is Neda, but somehow it became transmuted over the years. She hails from exotic Persia and has been with The Restaurant Group since 2001 where she started to work after completing her studies. She enjoys reading a good book, and shopping. Her favourite dish is a nice steak and chips washed down with a cold carrot juice.
Deputy Personnel Manager
After studying both Recreation Management and HR at University Rachel is a fully qualified HR Manager (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) with experience in the hospitality industry in both a front of house management position and in an HR capacity, so she really knows her stuff. Having recently relocated with her family to Farnham from London and returning from maternity leave, Rachel is looking forward to getting back into all things HR and joining the HR team. With a particular love of swimming, travel, cocktails and the outdoors, she also confesses that for her, there's nothing better than steak, red wine and a cheese board!
Recruitment and Training Manager
There are many characters around and about who have been involved for decades, and Andrea is one of them. Andrea is the Mrs Beeton of Home Counties - she's a dab hand at vinegars, chutneys, jams and baking, and enjoys nothing as much as 'batch cooking', which basically means food production in industrial quantities. Interestingly, she has been rendered concussed on two occasions, once by a boat, and once by a fridge freezer.
Recruitment Administration Assistant
At uni Laura made a pact with her Argentinian friend that they would never marry a “foreigner” or a chef and she ended up marrying a Canadian Chef! “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” – so they say, it seems that this works on Recruitment Administrators too as her husband gave it a go with her and now he's said to have her wrapped around his little finger! Laura's perfect meal includes steak, cheese and copious amounts of delicious wine, paired with brilliant company. She has two boys (Jack and Alex) and a very active working cocker (George) Sometimes she confesses to missing the Italian sun and way of life, but her love of the English countryside makes up for it.
Billy first started as a chef at the tender age of fourteen, and toiled at the coal face for eighteen years. During that time he was Sous chef at Gravetye Manor for four years when it first gained its Michelin star. He became Head chef at Amberley Castle before returning to Gravetye as Head chef for another four years, successfully retaining its Michelin star. Billy then progressed to being the Exec chef for an Italian food group before joining us in 2011. His hobbies are fly-fishing and photography, particularly food photography.
Deputy Executive Chef
James started at the beginning of May 2009 after a nine month golf sabbatical that took him all over the world. When he's not on the stove he seems to find plenty of other work to keep him occupied (his handicap has suffered) or if time allows, his head will be under the bonnet of one of a myriad of large Mercedes he drives, although his pride and joy is a maroon Ford Ka. There's no accounting for taste.