Culinary Director - Levy Restaurants UK, Arena | Compass Group

Culinary Director - B&I

  • Ryan Holmes

    I grew up cooking with my nan in Devon. When I was 15 years old, I realised I wasn’t going to be a professional footballer, so I told my career advisor that I wanted to be a chef. She scoffed and asked me if I’d consider banking, or becoming an accountant instead – a culinary career was practically frowned upon at the school I went to, but I wanted to cook. I always have. I completed a diploma in Hospitality Management at Plymouth College, studied classical cuisine in France, and started my culinary career working at high-end hotels and restaurants in France and England. After that, I sort of fell into contract catering and worked for a competitor. I joined Compass in 2015 as Executive Development Chef for Aviation, and became Culinary Director for Compass Group Ireland a year later. In 2019 I returned to the UK as Culinary Director for B&I.

    Are you proud to see our culinary apprentices rise through the ranks?

    Absolutely. We won’t succeed without the next generation of chefs. I take great pride in seeing young chefs excel. I’m an “arm-around” chef - I don’t go in for bellowing or shouting. I don’t think it achieves anything. If you make a mistake in my kitchen, I’ll stand by you, guide you through it, and make sure you don’t make that mistake again. Young people in this industry don’t want to be shouted at. No one wants to work in an aggressive environment - it dampens creativity and development. I want to be able to walk into a kitchen and see smiles!

  • What do you enjoy most about working for Compass?

    You can go anywhere and do anything at Compass. We’re a huge company, and the opportunities for me, and for young people, are enormous. If you decide you want to move to Australia or America, or anywhere else in the world, you can. I have been fortunate to work with some incredible Michelin starred chefs, create food with amazing fresh produce and overall given the opportunity to flourish with Compass -  what’s not to like!

  • I’m most proud of achieving the career of my dreams, especially having done it with great people along the way. I’ve always strived to accomplish my goals – I’ve even cooked for royalty and celebrities! Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to bring other chefs up with me through the ranks. I’ve always made sure that, when I move to my next role, another chef is ready to take my place – it’s important to leave a good ship behind.

  • I’ve always loved food and ingredients, and I wouldn’t be able to work a regular 9-5 office job. The best part about this industry is that it’s always changing. If you’re not in touch with what’s going on in the culinary world, you fall behind.

  • I’m a proud lad from the Westcountry, so it has to be Cornish lamb. The gentle rolling hills, warmer climate and granite pasture which is not too rich, provide the perfect environment for the lambs to flourish. It reminds me of home and compared to Welsh lamb its far superior, you can’t beat a slow cooked shoulder of Cornish lamb.

  • Definitely slow-cooked blade of beef. Slow cooking really maximizes flavour, and it’s a great way to create something delicious from a cheap cut of meat. At a previous job, my budget for food was halved overnight, but I still had to get a decent hospitality menu together for a huge event. I put together a slow-cooked beef blade dish, and it was a huge hit. The juices from the blade create a sauce with beautiful flavour, and the dish goes well with a caramelised potato terrine, garlic puree and some seasonal wilted greens.

  • Our amazing courgettes & flowers are almost ready to use. Love our very local #Irish produce!

  • Go to Eurest