Brighton born chef, Ben McKellar is one of the heads behind one of Sussex’s most loved restaurant groups, The Gingerman Group. Along with his wife and business partner, Pamela McKellar, they opened their flagship restaurant The Gingerman in 1998 and have since grown the group to encompass four more sites: The Ginger Pig and Ginger Rooms in Hove, The Ginger Dog in Kemptown, The Ginger Fox at the foot of the South Downs National Park and, most recently, The Flint House in Brighton’s new Hannington Estate.
As a long-standing member of the Brighton, Hove and wider Sussex community, we want to show some support to our local businesses and friends, particularly during tough times for the hospitality industry. So, we caught up with Ben to talk about what makes the area so special to him.
Why did you choose Sussex, or more specifically Brighton & Hove, to base The Gingerman Group?
Both Pamela and I are from Brighton originally. After working away for a few years, including overseas in Paris and New York, we wanted to return and set up a restaurant within our hometown.
What inspires the menus you create?
Our philosophy has always been to create uncomplicated, flavoursome food made from the freshest, highest-quality seasonal produce and is the same for all of our restaurants, whether fine dining, pub or wine and small plates.
Where is your favourite place to:
Brighton offers the best of both worlds with its beachfront, especially Hove Lawns, and the South Down National Park. I generally choose one of these depending on the weather, although another favourite walk is Cuckmere Haven, just along the coast in Seaford.
I really like Small Batch Coffee Roasters, which has several sites across Brighton, Hove and Worthing.
Lost in the Lanes, which is an all-day café just around the corner from The Flint House, does a great breakfast/brunch.
Grab a quick bite?
I really like Fourth and Church for a quick glass of wine and a few small plates, plus the staff there are great and really knowledgeable.
Visit for a special occasion?
I think the food at etch. is very good for a special occasion. Some of my other favourite restaurants are Cin Cin, The Chilli Pickle and 64 Degrees.
Take the family?
We love going for Dim Sum at China Garden!
What do you like to do with your time off?
Although I work in the restaurant business, I like nothing more than having a long, leisurely lunch with some close friends.
Imagine your dream home. What are its must-haves?
My dream home must-haves would include a spacious, well-equipped kitchen, original period features and plenty of room for my dogs to run around.
Any big plans for The Gingerman Group on the horizon?
Well, unfortunately Covid has put any plans we did have on hold, so for now we will wait to see how long things go on and see what the market is like afterwards.