Shaper: Simon Boyle

Show aired on 27th June 2015


Simon Boyle is the vision behind Brigade, a unique social enterprise restaurant. Formed from a partnership across the private, public and third sector, Brigade opened in September 2011 and was awarded an AA rosette within three months. Since its launch the restaurant has been the home of Simon’s charity; Beyond Food, which works to motivate and inspire people who have experienced homelessness to gain meaningful employment.

Having started as an apprentice chef aged 16 at The Savoy, Simon has led a highly respectable career since, working for Saudi Princes, taking Head Chef roles on 5* cruise ships, becoming the first ever Culinary Ambassador for the global giant, Unilever and running his own private catering and events business. It was in 2004 however, when Simon returned from Sri Lanka where he volunteered as part of the post tsunami relief team assisting a small community to rebuild their lives, that Simon found his passion and commitment to help and support those less fortunate than himself. Since 2004, Simon has worked tirelessly to help homeless people across London to rebuild their lives, using food as a catalyst, imparting his passion, skills and knowledge of cooking and food on to them and encouraging them to move their lives forward. Following six years of relentless hard work, Simon was able to take his vision to the next level. Forging relationships with PwC, De Vere Venues and the Homes and Communities Agency, Simon secured a grant of £800k to invest into a restaurant that would change the lives of hundreds of homeless people across London.

Beyond Food, runs two programmes; Freshlife and United Kitchen. Freshlife is a six-week series of motivational workshops that promote wellbeing, passion for food and meaningful employment. United Kitchen Apprenticeship is a fully certified apprenticeship programme where apprentices study towards an NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery as well as receiving on the job training in the kitchens at Brigade in addition to personal mentoring and employability coaching.

Follow Simon on Twitter @chefsimonboyle

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“I run my life, my business, hopefully with integrity, passion and just fighting for what is right.”

“I wasn’t the best businessman in the world because I used to confuse my social impact return with the financial return.”

“We have worked with nearly eight hundred homeless people in less than four years.”

“I went on Dragons Den…I didn’t get any money, but I got a lot of love for what I did.”

“Homelessness is on the increase – they reckon more than one in ten people nowadays say at some point in their life they have experienced homelessness.”

“You’ve got to have a good product, there is no point in me as a social entrepreneur hiding behind the idea that we are helping homeless people.”

“If you give people purpose in life then they have got something to get up for.”

“The reason why you and I don’t become homeless is because we have got people around us and if the chips are down, those people will help us.”

“When you lose someone, you sit there and think ‘what could have been different?’ But it has made me look at the future and I absolutely want to grab it with both hands.”

“I get excited about everything; I love food and I love pleasing people with my food.”