Meet the team

Meet Des

He’s known as London’s restaurant king, and it’s safe to say that D&D Chairman & CEO Des Gunewardena is your man when it comes to all things hospitality. Lucky for us he’s dished all, on his favourite restaurants, the biggest challenges of his career and even offered his most important piece of advice for budding restaurateurs…

Susanne Traudt


Susanne comes to South Place Hotel from the Royal Exchange, where as Operations Manager she oversaw all-day dining in the Grand Café, fine dining in Sauterelle restaurant, and corporate events for up to 800 people. Prior to that, Susanne worked at the Connaught Hotel, having arrived in London from her native Germany in 2006. At South Place, Susanne oversees all of the operations in the hotel, restaurants and bars, including room service, private dining and events.

Gary Foulkes


Gary has 12 years’ experience of cooking and working in some of the UK’s most highly-acclaimed establishments. Beginning his career under the guidance of Richard Neat and Gary Rhodes, he has also held positions at The Vineyard at Stockcross and William Drabble’s Aubergine. Gary then progressed to head chef at The Square, the two Michelin-starred Anglo-French restaurant in Mayfair, prior to taking the helm of Angler in April 2016.

Thomas Schuerch


As a Swiss in London, Thomas started his career at Swissotel, before moving to the UK where he has since worked for the last 13 years. Working in both high-end events, contract catering, as well corporate hospitality with Baxterstorey, Thomas has experienced a diverse career in the events industry before moving to South Place Hotel in 2017 to experience the energy and drive of all things food and beverage focused.

Alessandro Giani

Head Sommelier

Alessandro moved to the UK in 2011, coming from the Campania region of Italy where he grew up on a vineyard and discovered his passion for wine. Alessandro joined the Swan Company at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, before joining Michelin-starred Angler, under the mentorship of the prominent French sommelier, Benoit Allauzen.

Nelson Barros

Head Pastry Chef

Nelson arrived in the UK in 1997, where he developed his passion for cooking, immediately starting his Chef NVQ apprenticeship. It was in 2003 when he developed his true passion for pastry, whilst working at the three Rosette restaurant, The Latymer. Since then, Nelson has worked in a variety of highly acclaimed restaurants throughout the UK, until 2017 when he was headhunted to join South Place Hotel as Head Pastry Chef. Nelson now features in the 2019, Bake Off: The Professionals on Channel 4.