Viajante with Nuno Mendes at Town Hall Hotel, A Taste of Noma at Claridge’s, Fera with Simon Rogan at Claridge’s and most recently Kerridge’s Bar & Grill with Tom Kerridge at Corinthia Hotel London; Benjamin Hofer is the common denominator in the success of all these ventures and now he’s turning his hand to the new Nobu Hotel London Portman Square as Director of Food & Drink.
Originally from Austria, Ben landed in London in 2007 and dove straight into the luxury hotel and restaurant world where he has spent the last 12 years building his reputation as one of the industry’s best Food & Drink Directors.
Tasked with finding the industry’s best to join their Executive Team, Rachael Bolton, Director of People and Culture, tells us that “finding an F&B Director who was not only obsessive about their specialism and respected in the industry, but also an innovative leader with a genuine passion for people was fundamental and in Ben we have found that.”
We caught up with him to understand why he has made the move to Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, and what it is that has made him so successful to date.
When I was 14 I started to attend hospitality school in Austria, and during that time I realised that I enjoyed the energy and vibrancy that restaurants and bars can have. Later, I developed a passion for service – for giving people a fabulous experience. I did international events catering with Formula 1, worked on cruise ships in Russia, before working in my first 5-star hotel with Rocco Forte Hotels in Cardiff. After that, I moved to London where I learned a lot whilst working for The Berkeley and Claridge’s for six years.
The thing I am most proud of is seeing people that have worked with me progressing to become great managers and leaders of the industry themselves. Of course, there are also the incredible chefs I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with, such as Pierre Koffmann and Nuno Mendes, opening restaurants with Simon Rogan and Tom Kerridge, as well as doing pop-ups with Noma, Massimo Bottura and El Celler de Can Roca. They’re all certainly highlights of my career.
I’m also very proud of the startup I have with my friend Robert back in Austria – it’s called XO Beef and we source, age and sell old Austrian dairy cows to high-end restaurants. It’s doing incredibly well!
Besides this being my first full hotel opening, and Nobu and L + R (London & Regional) being very attractive companies to work for with very ambitious plans, it’s really the people I have met so far that made me want to work there. There is a sincere focus on creating a great hotel culture that centres around being part of the Nobu family. It’s essentially about respect – about taking the wellbeing and work-life balance of the team very seriously, which is extremely rare and refreshing in our industry.
The most important thing is to have a natural passion for what you do. Always stay humble and maintain a very positive attitude. Forming a great team is also about finding the right culture fit – skills are a lot easier to train and develop, compared to the personality of a person. You need a good mix of different characters, it’s all about variety and balance, which is constantly changing as people are evolving, so it never gets boring!
Well, I like good banter so I tend to smile a lot anyway. I love smart ideas and a great interaction. Plus learning something new also makes me happy.
There is never just one overall favourite, but there is probably a favourite neigbourhood, fine dining, Japanese or Vietnamese restaurant, etc.
I love Brawn on Columbia Road. I go to The Sea, the Sea a lot where my friend Leo cooks and it’s very unique. Also, The Laughing Heart on Hackney Road – Tom Anglesea’s cooking is great fun there. I must also mention my new local spot in Crouch End called Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar that has recently opened and looks very promising.
Nobu Hotel London Portman Square is due to open right in the heart of Marylebone in spring 2020.
The hotel will start recruiting from February 2020. For further information please email [email protected]
Nobu Hotel London, Portman Square, 22 Portman Square, London, W1H 7BG United Kingdom