Meet Daniel Wade from Table Talk Foundation
Introducing Daniel Wade, one of the co-founders of the Table Talk Foundation and Table Talk Business Club. In his role as Relationship Director, Dan shares insights into his career journey and the driving forces behind the establishment of the Table Talk Foundation.
A whistle-stop tour of Dan’s career?
I left school and went to Sussex Downs College in Eastbourne to train to become a chef. I then worked at the Long Room in Lewes and whilst there, I was fortunate enough to stage with chefs like Angela Hartnett and Jean Christope-Novelli.
I stopped cooking so I could play rugby again (you don’t get your weekends as a chef!) and became an estate agent before getting into financial services. This led me to buying a franchise with WPA Healthcare in 2009 who are a health insurance provider and I still run this to this day.
How did the Table Talk Foundation come about?
As my business got more established, I looked at ways in which I could support the hospitality sector post Covid as it’s a sector I love and I saw how hard it was hit in the pandemic. I am fortunate enough to have a good network of business owners in Sussex and the one thing that most of them enjoy is good food and drink!
We set up Table Talk Business Club initially which is our monthly members group that meets in the best independent hospitality venues across Sussex. This was set up as a community interest company (CIC) so proceeds from this have to go to a charity so we decided to set up our own,Table Talk Foundation.
What is the vision for Table Talk Foundation and how does it support hospitality?
Initially we want to be known as the hospitality charity for Sussex. We have made a great start on this and we currently work with some amazing places who are our ‘Industry Partners’.
These places will add a discretionary amount to a customer’s bill which comes to our charity. 100% of this is then re-invested back into the sector.
Using this money, we run a monthly training programme for industry leaders which is free of charge for them to attend. We are on a mission to up-skill leaders and make hospitality a viable career choice. Our sessions will vary but we cover topics like mental health awareness and leadership skills. It’s a great place to learn and network!
Where do you visit for brunch, dinner and drinks?
Brunch – Oeuf cafe in Hove.
They do a filthy dish called Hashinator which is hash browns, sausage patty and egg in a bun with a tomato relish. Its so tasty!!
Dinner – tough one as there are so many amazing places but I love Wild Flor in Hove. The guys there just love hospitality and service and these are exactly the type of venues we want to support. Plus their food is classy and they have a great wine list. For a more fine dining experience, Interlude in Lower Beeding is a very special place!
Is there a moment in your career that stands out above the rest?
In my insurance business, I was a finalist for ‘Franchisee of the Year’ for two years running by the British Franchise Association.
This put me in the top 15 franchise owners in the UK out of over 48,000!
For Table Talk Foundation- seeing our facility at Plumpton College open was very special. This was a massive risk for us but the space is world class and we are all very proud of that.
Who has inspired you along the way?
Jamie Oliver for sure. He made cooking ‘cool’ and what he has done for food education for children in this country is hugely under-appreciated in my opinion.
What is the biggest challenge in food education?
The government don’t care. Plain and simple. It’s actually easy to fix the UK child obesity issue but it requires investment and long term planning. I just feel that politicians, across all parties, only care about winning votes for the short term.
Tell us about the challenges facing hospitality today?
There are the obvious ones- staffing, increased costs, cost of living crisis etc.
I think the biggest issue is making hospitality a viable and respected career choice like it is in Europe and America.
Which is your favourite event of the year?
Our Sussex Showcase without a doubt. We run 7 collaboration events in 7 of the best venues in Sussex with world-class chefs cooking in Sussex! Its fast becoming one of the best foodie events in Europe!
Tell us about the team and the trustees behind Table Talk Foundation?
The core team and founders are myself, Jess Aggarwal and Tom Surgey. My sister Steph joined us this year to help with our members club. We are all very different and have our own strengths which gives us a nice balance.
Our trustees are some of the best business owners in Sussex and were picked as we trusted them to help us achieve our goals and hold us accountable.
What is next for Dan Wade?
I feel we are so early in our journey at Table Talk. I want to get as many children cooking as possible in the coming years and keep developing our support systems for our local hospitality sector.
Personally, I just want to try and find a balance with work and life! I want to be able to spend more time with my wife, kids, friends and family.
What is the one, most important, piece of advice you would give to an aspiring business person?
Try to surround yourself with people who inspire you and hold yourself accountable.
Favourite starter, main course and dessert
Main: Steak, chips, Bearnaise sauce.