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August 9, 2023

Cecilware s013a

Why hospitality?
Ask me again when I’m retired.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
How hard it is!

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
Daarona – a small Ethiopian restaurant in Seven Sisters. Stumbled in by chance whilst waiting for my car to be fixed across the road. Had one of the tastiest meals of my life for £11. Notable mentions: Som Saa, and The River Cafe.

What motivates you?
Glorious fish!

What keeps you up at night?
Also fish. My business operates round the clock so there’s always something going on in the middle of the night.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the hospitality business?
Well, I’ve never had an employer but I’d have to say our exec chef Leoandro Carreira’s approach to fish is a driving influence on how I formulate the business. I would love a mentor, but not found one yet.

What time do you wake up?
5am, on average.

How often do you check your email?
About every hour. WhatsApp probably every five minutes. I have no chill.

How do you let off steam?
Boxing – just bag work these days, I’m not in sparring shape anymore!

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
I enjoy a healthy mix of both.

Typical Sunday?
Clissold Park with my wife and kids. Maybe a BBQ. Good wine.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Went solo to a party with some particularly shady characters I had just met in Naples.

Favourite holiday destination?
Sicily or West Coast of Scotland.

What are you currently reading?
The Singularities​ by John Banville.

What boxset are you currently watching?

What was your dream job growing up?
To be Richard Branson.

What’s been your best business decision?
Not furloughing any of my team in lockdown – we took on Covid head-on; the team came together, cross-trained and were stronger for it. I doubled down and as a result the business thrived.

And the worst?
Sleep-walking into my second site with Bonnie Gull [the sustainably-minded seafood group Hunter ran prior to launching The Sea, The Sea]. After the success of our flagship in Fitzrovia we thought a second would come easy. How wrong we were! Expensive lesson learned.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Go slow, focus and ensure all bases are covered before you grow. The thing is I would never listen to my own advice.

If you could change one thing about the hospitality industry today, what would it be?
I would get diners to stop spending money on mediocre restaurants and delivery meals and save it for less frequent but higher quality restaurant experiences. This way good restaurants would be able to charge what they need to make their businesses viable. So in short, less restaurants, better restaurants.


Born in Edinburgh, Hunter studied at Edinburgh Academy, Oundle School, and briefly at Glasgow University. He describes himself as being ‘pretty much always self-employed’, and has worked as a club promoter, private jet salesman, restaurateur, and now seafood merchant. He led sustainably-minded seafood group Bonnie Gull, which built a London estate of three London restaurants, but closed as a result of the pandemic. He launched The Sea, The Sea’s original site in Chelsea in 2019, and launched a second, chef’s table restaurant under the brand in Hackney in 2021.

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