Meet some of our family

Matt Thomas

Managing Director of Restaurant Associates Group

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

I learnt from an early age that providing people with great food and drink made people happy. It was inevitable thereafter that I choose to work in the hospitality sector.

Favourite drink?

Champagne, whilst part of the Cotes deux Champagne fraternity, it is well documented that I am also a proud supporter of English Sparkling wines.

Sara Senior

Sales Director

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

My love of hospitality is personal. My father was a chef, my uncle a hotelier, and I was literally born into it…. right before service, in a hotel in Salisbury. From a very early age I loved the excitement of creating a magical atmosphere through the sharing of food and drink and that for me, has never changed.

Favourite drink?

The Botanist Gin with elderflower tonic (splash of St Germain) & lime.

Shaun Fitzgibbon

Business Director of Restaurant Associates

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

I have worked in hospitality all my life and the tight knit network of great people and personalities and the outgoing culture is what I love most about the industry.

Favourite drink?

A crisp chilled glass of Alsace or Riesling in the sunshine with some tapas is my dream combination.

Steve Chandler

Managing Director of Restaurant Associates Venues

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

It is all about people and creating memorable moments.

Favourite drink?

Old fashioned.

Dirk Talsma

Managing Director of Rapport

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

Hospitality allows me to work with a team of like-minded individuals, to create memorable experiences through personal connections. The satisfaction that comes from surprising and delighting your guest, or to ‘un-ruin’ someone’s day, is not one that can be found in many other industries.

Favourite drink?

I think it is all about the setting. I can really enjoy a glass of English sparkling wine on a warm summer’s day and at the same time love an aged Rum (Ron Zacapa Solera 23 preferably) after a great meal with friends and family.

Victoria Marshall

Head of People and Culture

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

Like many of us working in the Hospitality Industry, it was the people that first attracted me. Prior to joining Restaurant Associates, I had been in retail since I was 16, possibly for the same initial reason. However, I noticed through my travels and dining experiences, that there is something special about the impact that the experience of great food, coffee and service can have on us as individuals. Coffee and food are incredible vehicles to connect people and to build communities and I feel immensely proud to work for an organisation that has people and product at its heart. I am proud to play a part in helping to facilitate those experiences through the work my People Team do with our business and the opportunities we can help to create.

Favourite food?

Chilli Pepper.

Gavin Gooddy

Marketing Director

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

The hospitality industry is an incredibly dynamic and innovative sector that appreciates peoples from all walks of life. I love how it embraces diversity and modernity and is often at the forefront of social trends in adapting to peoples ever changing lifestyles and tastes.

Favourite food

Is anything from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and Falasti cookbooks.

Craig Straughton

Head of Finance

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

I enjoy working in hospitality as it feels like a tangible industry to me. Whether at work or not we experience hospitality daily, visiting restaurants, cafés, bakeries or even supermarkets. All these areas can provide ideas and inspiration which are also interchangeable, taking recipes home from work to share with family or talking about positive experiences in work. The opportunity to taste and make fantastic food is a bonus! 

Favourite food: 

Bread in all its varieties. I am currently trying to perfect sourdough recipe.

Sonia Carvalho

Head of Coffee and Community

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

I love that I get to work with people everyday who also do what they love. The passion and commitment we all share is infectious. Food and drink are often the social glue that brings people together and when you work in the industry, you get to be a part of that.

Favourite Drink

Delicious single origin coffee brewed via chemex, slightly cooled.

Ben Harman

Head of Culinary

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

In an ever-changing hospitality industry two things that we strive to keep consistent are great food and great people. Now more than ever we need to have our people at the heart of everything we do, whether that’s meeting our farmers who grow or rear incredible British produce or enabling our talented chefs to create brilliant culinary experiences for our guests. Our industry is dynamic, fast-paced and full of opportunity, what is not to love?!

Favourite food 

Pasta in particular pappardelle. I could eat a decent bowl of pasta every day when it is fresh and packed full of flavour. It is hearty, comforting and versatile.

Nick Bracken

Head of Health and Safety

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

Hospitality, food and good service for me is the something in life that can bring all walks of people together. You can have a group of guests seated together around a table ranging from CEO’s in the finance sector to farmers, artists and everything in between all getting excited about one thing - the food in front of them, and when it is good the place is filled with joy.

Hospitality has no social barriers, it can bring joy to a room even with just a simple meal, and that is what got me into it.

Favourite food?

Nothing beats a fresh loaf that is still warm and loads of butter. Or, for a bit more of a niche topping ‘dripping and Bovril’ - inherited that from the Yorkshire part of my family! It is so good.

Luxey Dayanandan

Head of Wellness and Nutrition

I love how no two days are the same, one day I could be nutritionally analysing our menus and the next be at one of our venues presenting our amazing food offer alongside our culinary team. I love how the hospitality industry is always changing! And for me, being able to work with great people to inject creativity into the everyday is what it is all about.

Favourite food?

I absolutely love street food and being able to get a flavour of different cultures through the power of food, my favourite would be Kothu Roti a very popular Sri Lankan street food dish. It consists of diced roti, mixed with chicken and vegetables and lots of aromatic spices.

Carolyn Ball

Director for Delivery of Net Zero

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

It is an industry full of talented people, capable of turning the tables on some of our greatest environmental and social challenges. 

Favourite food?

Anything my mum makes. She is a master. 

Stephanie Robertson

Head of Customer Engagement

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

It gives me the chance to meet new people, surprise them, make them smile and make their day. It is constantly changing and evolving, consistently giving me the ability to seize new opportunities and keeps me hungry for knowledge.

Favourite Drink?

Hattingley NV Blanc de Noir.

Steve Groves

Executive Chef at Glyndebourne

What I most love about the hospitality industry ?

The thing I love most about the hospitality industry is the diverse group of people that I have the privilege of working with. I love to share knowledge and skills with others and likewise look to learn as much as possible from those around me. 

What is your favourite food?

My favourite food is fish and chips, from a proper chippy.

Louise Cole

Business Excellence Manager

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

I love this industry, and the people in it, always striving to be better and being the best for our clients, no two days are the same.

Favourite drink?

I love Prosecco, I’m so Essex.

Ian Human

Group Chef for Venues

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

Food brings people together, nurtures a sense of community, feeds the body and the soul.

Favourite food

Isle of Wight tomatoes with English mozzarella and lovage pesto.

John Evans

Operations Director

What do you most love about the hospitality industry?

I love the feeling of achievement in delivering complex events in unique, memorable and exciting locations. It’s amazing to be part of a team where everyone from the sales team, operational managers and the frontline superstars pull together to put on special events with amazing food.

What is your favourite food or drink?

Favourite food is Italian enjoyed with and ice cold bottle of Peroni!

Pete Meager

Operations Director

What do you most love about the hospitality industry?

Ultimately, what I love about our industry is the way in which we connect with people, and are able to provide great food and outstanding service. It is within my blood to work in the service industry and I love to create memorable moments that last for longer than just that moment in time - food certainly does this day in, day out in what I do, I would not want any other job!

What is your favourite food or drink?

When it comes to my favourite food, my number one will always be the tradition that was my grandmother’s cooking – her traditional style of food takes me back to memories of home-cooked dishes that were perfected over many years has to always be my no.1. No one can cook like her! If I am out and about on the town, then I love to pick at this and that, and hence Street Food markets, they tend to get me really excited. I love the ability to mix it up without having to go too far!

Ming Lai

Operations Director

What do you most love about the hospitality industry?

The appeal and ability to meet individuals from all walks of life was something that always attracted me to working in Hospitality. Individuals who all want the same thing; to deliver an unforgettable experience at every point of interaction and delivered in a genuine and honest manner. I love the sense of satisfaction we achieve when we know we have done everything possible to go above and beyond. I also love the fact that we can enable and activate the social glue through great food, drink and coffee. I am extremely proud of the people I work with and for, and knowing that I am part of a very unique group of individuals making a difference.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Anything to do with Japanese cuisine but cant go wrong with some good fresh Sashimi and some sake!

Megan Caulkett

Head of Operations

Why do you love the hospitality industry?

Most importantly for me, I love working with so many different types of people, from all walks of life and in so many different environments, no two days are the same. P.s the food has something to do with it too…. oh the food!

Favourite food: 

I love nothing more than a homemade meal and a glass of red. Although, I get to try so many amazing cuisines from our talented culinary teams, I couldn’t possibly pinpoint one favourite…

Paula Dempsey

Operations Director

JC Romignac

Operations Director

We rely on our people to deliver great service to our clients and guests, so it is important that they are well-trained and well looked after.

Our strategy aims to create a workforce that represents the rich diversity of the guests and clients we serve, as well as society as a whole, enabling everyone in our business to be themselves and have an equal opportunity to progress their career.  

Want to join our family of associates?

We pull out all the stops to ensure our training and benefits are unbeatable. That way, we get to attract and retain the best of the best.

This means enormous scope for career development through our Specialist Training Labs, Chef Apprentices, SHINE customer engagement training and Careers programme.

Take a look around to see what we’re all about, and if you are up for a career in the buzzing hospitality industry we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch

Our guest experience training programme which is embedded in our culture is called – ‘SHINE’.
This holistic programme has evolved from our award-winning Impressions scheme, to not only deliver first class service for our guests, but to provide a clear framework for continuous learning as well as reward and recognition of our team members.

Our focus is building an unforgettable guest experience for every one of our customers. We do this through a suite of Standard Operating Procedures focused on the different departments. Within this framework there is a set of SHINE training sessions focusing on:

• Guest Journey
• Guest Experience
• Make it Right

Diversity and Inclusion

Our associates are key to creating an inclusive environment and we have several dedicated networks, run by colleagues for colleagues which promote, celebrate, and raise awareness of key topics and issues, to enhance inclusivity including:

Embracing Inclusion

Our Within Network aims to promote cultural diversity in our work environment and inspires others to do the same. The community is made up of employees from a range of cultural backgrounds and representative of different areas of our business.

The aim of the network is to design and develop plans, solutions and ideas on how to further improve our diversity within Compass Group UK & Ireland and be a voice for all our colleagues. The network group focusses on four main objectives:

  • Listen
  • Take a Stand
  • Attract
  • Progress
Pride in food

Supporting and celebrating our LGBTQ+ community, Pride in Food strives to create an inclusive and diverse environment where everyone can freely be themselves and maximise their potential with an emphasis on Respect, Equality, Teamwork and Growth.

We work closely with our supply chains, partners and customers to share best practice around supporting the LGBTQ+ community. We have also been a key partner with Pride London by delivering large parts of the hospitality for several years and hope to continue and expand our work together in the future.

Women in food

Women make up two-thirds of our people and we’re always looking to attract, retain and develop our female talent, as well as ensure appropriate representation at every level of our organisation. This work includes female specific mentoring, and talent programmes ranging from a partnership with Corndel and Mumsnet, to support new mother’s returning from maternity leave into leadership positions and our Women in Leadership programme.

Having originally launched Women in Food in 2016, to focus on culinary talent, we are now expanding our community to support all job roles both food and non-food related.


Empower was launched to provide a platform for women in leadership and business to discuss topical issues and raise awareness in general of the challenges faced by women, with the overall goal to challenge bias and champion success.

EmbRace You

Our EmbRace You network aims to create a safe space where associates from any ethnicity and background is included and treated equally.

We have opportunities for Ambassadors and Clients to educate themselves through different activities, initiatives, and events to promote a truly diverse and inclusive workplace that positively impacts the wider community

Be the Change

Be the Change Network aims to increase awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability within Rapport and to our clients through different initiatives, education platforms and sharing best practices. Our mission is to match our passion for service with our care for the planet and our community.

Our partners

To help us enhance an inclusive and diverse working environment, we work closely with our partners.