Meet The Gingerman Group
Ben McKellar, known as The Ginger Chef, along with his business partner and wife, Pamela McKellar, founded the renowned Gingerman Group in 1998. Their flagship establishment, The Gingerman, based along Brighton’s seafront, quickly gained recognition as one of Brighton’s premier dining destinations. Today, their portfolio includes four Ginger-branded sites, including Ginger Man, Ginger Fox, and Ginger Pig and their luxury guest accommodations listed among The Sunday Times’ top 100 British Hotels. In this interview, we catch up with this inspiring husband and wife duo, delving into their journey and getting an insider view of the competitive food industry.
1. What inspired you to start your own restaurant chain?
As with most things we didn’t set out to create a chain of restaurants. We started with the Gingerman in 1998 and grew organically from there, learning from mistakes along the way.
2. How does your husband and wife dynamic contribute to your success? How do you collaborate on key business decisions?
Mostly good touch wood. We have very different roles in the business and manage to dove tail well. It is not without challenges and we try to communicate with each other as much as possible.
3. In the competitive restaurant industry, staying innovative is crucial. Could you share some of the ideas and strategies that have contributed to the popularity of your businesses?
I think it is important to stay current and to keep up with new trends and styles. Having London so close is also a great help, allowing us to eat out regularly and see what other respected brands are doing. We are also always looking to improve what we do.
4. Your business encompasses a diverse range of culinary endeavours from restaurant chains, to consultancy to private dining experiences. How do you balance these various aspects whilst ensuring that they contribute to your overall success and brand identity?
I see my job as fundamentally trying to keep the plates spinning. Each aspect of our business has a talented team in place to manage the day to day. This frees us up to manage any problems that arise more quickly and efficiently.
5. What are some of the key challenges you faced when scaling your business and how did you overcome them?
I think the hardest thing was going from one business to two businesses. Being able to delegate is something I found very difficult in the beginning and yet it is probably the most important thing. Restaurants are all about the team and doing an awful lot of little things well. Once you realise you cannot do everything yourself you relax a bit and delegate.
6. Entrepreneurship often involves adapting to changing market trends. How do you stay attuned to evolving customer preferences and have there been any instances where you have adjusted your business model in response to shifts in the market?
I think COVID threw up the biggest challenge to the hospitality industry in several generations. We needed to adapt our business model almost daily from only being able to open outside in the beginning to social distancing and increased sanitation and cleanliness. In the end we have to remember that as with every business the customer is king and making sure they are happy is the number one priority. If you lose sight of this fact you are doomed.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring food industry entrepreneurs?
Expect to make mistakes but make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.
8. Please could you share a Gingerman recipe with our readers?
Of course, please see our recipe for Cucumber Gazpacho.
- 2 cucumber;
- 1 avocado;
- 2 spring onions;
- 180g coconut yoghurt;
- 20g basil leaves;
- 10g parsley leaves;
- 5g mint leaves;
- 1 lemon juice;
- 1 clove garlic;
- 20g white balsamic vinegar;
- 20g EVOO; and
- Salt, pepper, water to taste.
- Blitz everything hard, but not for too long as you will lose the colour; then
- Pass, refrigerate.
Learn more about The Gingerman Group by visiting their website.