Jamie’s Italian & Las Iguanas CEOs join Commercial Kitchen Keynote line-up

Jon Knight, chief executive of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, and Mos Shamel, CEO of Las Iguanas, are among the first big name Keynote speakers to be confirmed for Commercial Kitchen – the UK’s leading kitchen equipment, services and design show, taking place on 4-5 June at the NEC Birmingham.

Executive chefs from wagamama, Loungers, The Alchemist, and The Restaurant Group have also been announced today.

Visitors can head to the Keynote Theatre at 2.15pm on Tuesday 4 June to grab a front row seat and hear from a man whose ‘passion and enthusiasm for success and developing others that is second to none’ (according to Glenn Evans, head of food development at Las Iguanas). Last month, the company was ranked #26 on the ‘Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for List’.

From being close to bankruptcy in late 2017 to winning ‘Best Family Dining Experience’ at the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards last month, the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group is never far from the headlines. It’s been a busy few years for CEO Jon Knight (pictured), who is looking forward to sharing his news on the brand’s refresh – or, in his words: “how we are fighting back” – at this year’s Commercial Kitchen show.

A candid keynote speaker and interviewee, he’ll be giving plenty of food for thought – delving into difficult times and discussing his approach to ‘rediscovering the potential of the Brand’. Arrive early for this must attend session, starting at 2.15pm on Wednesday 5 June.

Commercial Kitchen is “informative, industry relevant” and “network driven,” he says. “It gives us a great insight into how technologies are keeping abreast of trends and how to optimise business efficiencies and ways of working.”

CEO of Las Iguanas, Mos Shamel’s exclusive Keynote interview will prove a popular draw for many. Known throughout the industry for his inspirational approach to leadership and team development, he’s been integral to the growth of this authentic Latin American casual dining brand for over 15 years. First as operations director from 2004 (when there were just six sites) and then as CEO from 2015. He now heads up 55 sites nationwide.

Commercial Kitchen show is “incredibly important” to the sector it serves, said Shamel, who is looking forward to taking part in a ‘fun’ and informative interview there.

“Our industry is great at sharing,” he continued, “I intend to share some success stories that are relevant and also to warn others of pitfalls that I have encountered. We are constantly innovating to stay ahead and feel new and exciting to consumers. It’s tougher than ever to stay attractive and relevant.”

Commercial Kitchen’s panel sessions – focusing on specific types of kitchens and featuring the leading exec chefs, food chiefs and industry influencers working within them – were a popular hit last year. That format’s back for 2019, plus with an extra show theatre, even more big names are lining up to take part.

Recently confirmed speakers this year include Seamus O’Donnell, executive chef at The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants, talking about their latest kitchen plans in the ‘Pub panel’. He said, “I pride myself in having quality equipment, which matches our customer and staff expectations. Commercial Kitchen enables me to identify the products we need that are on the market.”

Alun Sperring, chef/owner of The Chilli Pickle and recent winner of Best Independent Restaurant at Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards, is the first addition to the new ‘Indian Restaurant Kitchens panel’. The session will be chaired by chef and food consultant Jay Morjaria, an investment winner on the BBC’s My Million Pound Menu last year for his innovative East Asian restaurant concept ‘Dynasty’.

Plus, Simon Xavier, executive chef at The Restaurant Group (Chiquito), Antony Bennett, head of food at Loungers, and Steven Mangleshot, executive chef at wagamama, will be sharing their expertise in the ‘Multisite kitchen panel’.

“I look forward to seeing all the amazing new kitchen innovations and speaking at our industry show,” said wagamama’s Steven Mangleshot.

“If you value innovation in your kitchens then Commercial Kitchen should be your favourite show of the year,” added Loungers’ Antony Bennett.