The Great British Roast Competition: Alex Hole, MD of Perch on Landing Beach

The  Staff Canteen

Alex Hole is the managing director of Perch on Lancing Beach, the winner of Knorr's vegetarian Great British Roast competition 2021.

Alex Hole said he and his team were “slightly shocked” to have won the award for the best vegetarian roast in the country, especially because they put so much effort into developing the perfect plant-based Sunday lunch. 

“I’m delighted, genuinely our whole team has taken a huge lift from it," he said, "and I’m delighted that they’ve been recognised.” 

Biography:

Originally from an accountancy background, Alex got involved in the hospitality industry when, with the help of ZEDfactory Architects, they began designing and building a zero-carbon building on Lancing Beach.

During the design process, it was clear that the building would work well as a restaurant, so it was decided that they would go down that route.

In August 2015, the Perch opened with just 11 team members. It has since grown to have over 40 staff, who, Alex said, have always been a great focus for the Perch restaurant. “In hospitality, the staff are everything about what you do. If we can find and recruit great people then we can move forward with them and make sure people have more consistent enjoyable experiences with us.”

Competition Criteria

Launched in 2011, the Great British Roast Competition is open to all businesses that serve roasts.

Upon application, a panel of judges will review the entries, visiting shortlisted restaurants anonymously to reach a final decision on which two roasts - one including meat, one vegetarian or vegan - are the best in the country for the year. 

The Roast

Perch won the title in the vegetarian category with its ‘ultimate sharing roast.' a cumin-spiced roasted squash & lentil Wellington, served with roast potatoes, Sussex charmer cauliflower cheese, market vegetables, homemade Yorkshire puddings, stuffing and gravy. 

The restaurant's roasts are a little bit different, in that they are served between 4pm and 7pm on Sundays, straddling the usual lunch and dinner time slots.

They are served family-style, to let guests enjoy it as they would at home.

"Initially, seeing staff come back with different plates, everyone would want different elements of the roast, so the sharing platform seemed to work very well,” Alex explained.

Although always more of a creative challenge, he said that the restaurant has nonetheless always pushed to develop a broad range of great vegetarian dishes.

"We’ve adapted [our menu] year-on-year," he said, adding that "we've got to this position where it’s a continual evolution of it and trying not to rely on typical things such as nut roasts.”

Alex and the team at Perch believe that vegetarian food can be more experimental compared to more traditional meat dishes, in that it is free from constraint and guests tend to be more open-minded when eating it.

"That’s the bit we were quite excited about in a strange way," he said, "because it’s an area that we’ve probably worked the hardest on in terms of continuing to change the offer to it.”

“[I am] shocked by how much our vegetarian products make up as a percentage of our sales now. It’s a lot more diverse in terms of menu allocation,” he said, "We sell at about a 2 to 1 ratio at the moment, so about a third of all sales for [breakfast] is vegetarian."

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th December 2021

The Great British Roast Competition: Alex Hole, MD of Perch on Landing Beach