Simon helps launch Hampshire Food Festival 2023

Our Executive Chef, Simon Hartnett, was among a galaxy of culinary artists at a brand new event launching Hampshire Food Festival 2023.

Running over Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 2nd July, Celebrating Hampshire was a collaboration between Festival Place in Basingstoke and Hampshire Fare. The focus was on a chefs’ kitchen in Festival Place’s Porchester Square with an artisan produce market plus sampling.

Cookery theatre

Tracy Nash, Hampshire Fare, said: “It was so great to have a cookery theatre in the centre of this popular shopping centre showcasing our region’s great chefs. Thanks to Festival Place supporting local, this event was a true celebration of Hampshire. Cooking demos featured Hampshire ingredients, while local growers, makers and producers sold their products. What is not to LOVE!”

Hampshire Fare

Queens Hotel General Manager, Paul Playford, said: “It was great that Simon was part of such an exciting showcase event that launched the Hampshire Food Festival 2023.

“We are great supporters of Hampshire Fare and Simon loves to use local produce in his menus. There’s so much great produce on our doorstep and we are proud to champion it at the Queens.”


Hampshire Food Festival 2023

Organised by Hampshire Fare, the Festival encompasses a delicious programme of events running across the region: including chef demos, menus, markets, tours, tastings and workshops. What’s more, the 21st Hampshire Food Festival has been given a makeover. It will now run throughout the summer across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. For more details:


Photo credit: The Electric Eye Photographer

Our wonderful event coordinator, Irene Garcia, has recently gone for the chop and has donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust.

The Little Princess Trust is a charity that provides free real hair wigs to children and young people, aged up to 24 years, who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions.

Belinda Cleary from Medusa Hairdressing (just along Osborne Road in Southsea, near the hotel) kindly did the deed and gave Irene a lovely new summertime look.

It’s not the first time Irene has donated her hair – over the past seven years she has donated nearly two metres of hair.

“Back home in Spain I have donated my hair on several occasions and I was more than happy to support the Little Princess Trust.

“Thanks so much to Belinda for generously giving her time to cut my hair – I really appreciated it,” she said

Well done, Irene.



Related articles: Queens Hotel General Manager is raising funds for CEO Sleepout, Running the Great South Run for a great cause

Team members working across all areas of The Queens Hotel have received life-saving training so they know what to do in a real-life emergency.

The training was organised by Lara Hardwick via SADS UK who recently presented the Queens with a defibrillator. She was inspired to raise funds for the life-saving piece of equipment after her father Alan, a fit and healthy 67-year-old, had a cardiac arrest back in April 2022, when he was jogging in Southsea.

Survival rate

Lara explained: “Just 10.8% of people who experience a cardiac arrest outside of hospital survive. Taking 5 minutes out of your day to learn CPR from this easy link could help increase that number.

“Figures published by London Ambulance  Service also show that when a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) was used by a bystander and at least one shock was delivered to patients, the survival rate was more than five times higher (57%).”

Life saving kit

Queens Hotel General Manager, Paul Playford, said :”We were delighted when Lara arranged for the defibrillator to be based at the Queens and this life-saving training will ensure that team members from across the hotel feel confident to use the equipment in an emergency situation.

“Our location close to the seafront and on a main route into Southsea means we are well placed to offer help, should the need arise. Our guests can also feel secure in the knowledge that we have this life-saving kit to hand.”

Pictured left to right: Head of Breakfast, James; Restaurant manager, Alfredo; General Manager, Paul, and Events Co-ordinator, Irene with Housekeeping Supervisor, Belen, in the foreground. 

Related articles: Defibrillator now installed at The Queens Hotel

Paul Playford has recently been announced as the General Manager of the Queens Hotel, Portsmouth. Paul has gained a wealth of experience working in hospitality at major venues across Hampshire.

A former City of Portsmouth Boys School pupil, Paul began his career with major hotel brands Marriott and Hilton. There, he learned the ropes and worked his way up in the kitchen. He then became Sous Chef at the Solent Hotel in Whiteley. From 2006, he was Head Chef at the Royal Beach Hotel.

Queens Hotel Managing Director, Farid Yeganeh, said: ” I have known Paul for many years. I welcome his hands-on experience, attention to detail and ability to lead a team.

“He joins the Queens Hotel as we open our re-designed garden and continue our refurbishment programme.”

Paul Playford’s aims

Looking ahead, Paul said he is keen to ensure a consistent standard of service for guests and visitors to enjoy.

“My aim is to take the Queens Hotel to the next stage of her journey. I want to ensure she is a vibrant hotel delivering a good quality service. A happy team means guests will receive the best service and enjoy a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

“We have a unique offering. We are an independently owned hotel in a beautiful, characterful building and we want to be recognised as offering a really good, four-star experience,” he said.

About the Queens Hotel

The Queens was one of the first hotels in Southsea. She has been the place families have chosen to celebrate for more than 150 years. Since 2017, £5.2m has been invested in the hotel and it is an on-going project with future plans, including the creation of a spa.

Seen as being at the heart of Southsea, this summer the Queens Hotel will sponsor the massively popular Southsea Food Festival. We will also be announcing a new partnership with Portsmouth Pride.

We were delighted to be the recipients of the Freedom of the City. This was in recognition of the work we did to support our community during the first lockdown, when we cooked hundreds of meals for vulnerable people. To learn more, please click here.

Apprenticeship programme

With so much talk about the hospitality industry struggling to fill thousands of jobs, we are delighted to welcome apprentice chefs, Ketan Dixon-Whiteaway and Jack Breach to our kitchen.

The youngsters are being supported on their career path thanks to a new apprenticeship programme offered at the Queens Hotel.

General Manager, Catherine Austen explained: “We are keen to promote the career opportunities that are available in hospitality. We want to develop the skills of our talented team.

“By offering an apprenticeship programme, we can develop the talent of the future. We can also help to retain team members who are gaining work experience at the same time as learning.”

Our apprentice chefs

Ketan,21, explained he has been working in local restaurants for a number of years. However, being supported to do his Level 3 qualification (the equivalent to an A Level) as part of a day-release at HSDC South Downs College means he can take his cooking skills to the next level.

“I love cooking and this will give me a chance to gain even more understanding as well as new skills.

“It would be great to be able to progress at the Queens and do more qualifications. Ultimately, I would love to run my own restaurant,” he said.

Jack,17, joined the kitchen team as a Kitchen Porter. Executive Chef, Simon Hartnett, soon spotted his potential and let him know about the apprenticeship programme.

“I enjoy doing different styles of cooking. I’m doing my Level 2 and loving it,” he said.

Simon said: “The great thing about working in a kitchen is that you can literally start as the pot washer and go all the way to the top. You just need a bit of determination.

“By offering the apprenticeship programme, we are helping people to progress in their career and providing the right structure for them to thrive.”

The Queens Hotel is developing more apprenticeship opportunities. Please take a look at our social media for more details.