Alex Aitken, the former-Michelin-starred chef, who helped launch Lime Wood, the £30m country house hotel which opened in Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire, five months ago, has stepped down from his role as director of cuisine at the property.
The two restaurants at the hotel – the Dining Room and the Scullery – are now being overseen by head chef Luke Holder, 33, who was appointed in January.
“Alex has taken a back step in the business and we are retaining him in a consultant role for six months,” said Robin Hutson, chairman of Lime Wood. “It was his own decision. Having opened the hotel, he would now like to be free to do other things. It is all very amicable and we are now pressing on here with Luke.”
Aitken has worked in the New Forest for 25 years as a self-taught chef and became closely connected to the area through his creation of dishes using many wild foods – particularly mushrooms – gathered by himself.
He achieved a Michelin star in 1995 at Le Poussin in Brockenhurst, before moving the restaurant in 1999 into Parkhill, a three star hotel set within a Regency country manor house in Lyndhurst, which was later to be developed into Lime Wood.
Aitken bought the property with local entrepreneur, Jim Ratcliffe, who made his fortune through what has become the world’s third largest chemical company, Ineos.
Le Poussin at Parkhurst held a Michelin star from 2001 to 2005, when the hotel closed to be transformed into Lime Wood. By the time Lime Wood opened in November 2009, Aitken had sold his 50% share in the business, leaving Ratcliffe as the sole owner.
Previously head chef at the Lakeside Park Hotel & Spa in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, Holder has also worked at the Orrery and Oxo Tower in London, as well as gaining international experience at Tang in Dubai and the three Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Italy.
By Janet Harmer
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Published by: The Caterer