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Walnut Tree seeks way out of chef ‘nightmare'

01 December 2003 by
Walnut Tree seeks way out of chef ‘nightmare'

Francesco Mattioli, owner of the Michelin-starred Walnut Tree Inn in Abergavenny, is urgently seeking a head chef to help him out of the difficulties he has suffered since Stephen Terry left the restaurant earlier this year.

Mattioli and Terry bought the 60-seat Monmouthshire restaurant from long-term owners Ann and Franco Taruschio in February 2001.

But nine months ago, a year after winning the Walnut Tree a Michelin star, Terry moved on to "pursue other interests".

Following Terry's departure, Mattioli hired a friend named Stefano Lodi-Rizzini, previously senior sous chef at Neal Street restaurant in London, to run the kitchen on a temporary basis.

He now wants to recruit a permanent head chef to oversee the four-strong brigade but hopes Lodi-Rizzini will continue to work at the restaurant following the appointment.

Since buying Terry's 50% stake in the business and becoming sole owner of the Walnut Tree, Mattioli has experienced a series of setbacks.

These have resulted in him having to juggle his front-of-house duties with helping out in the kitchen.

The first disaster struck when, two weeks after joining, Lodi-Rizzini broke his leg and was unable to work in the kitchen for three months. Then two waitresses had to have time off, one for breaking a foot, the other for breaking an arm. In addition, two members of the cooking staff, sous chef Luke Morris and commis chef Lee Penaluna, have left.

Mattioli said: "It had always been my dream to own a restaurant but the dream soon became a nightmare. I just hope I can recruit a head chef and start again."

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