James Durrant, the former executive chef of the Michelin-starred Maze restaurant in London, is to launch his own venture in Hampshire.
Durrant, who left Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) in July 2010 after nine years with the company, has taken over the lease to the Plough Inn, an 18th-century pub, in the Test Valley village of Longparish.
The chef, who has teamed up with his wife and father to launch the new business, hopes to reopen the pub after a minor refurbishment towards the end of March. He has hired former Maze restaurant manager Janet Cage, who will head up front of house.
The Plough Inn will feature a small bar area as well as a dining room with around 40 covers.
"The food will be really simple and unpretentious," Durrant told Caterer and Hotelkeeper. "I wanted to do something completely different, away from London and the Michelin-starred restaurants I have worked in before."
Durrant added that the focus would be on local produce. "There are some amazing producers in the area and I'm really excited to start working with them," he said.
"I plan to recruit two chefs to run the kitchen with me. Initially the menu will be very simple but the team I work with will determine how we move it on and evolve it in the future."
A former Acorn winner, Durrant first joined GRH as a junior chef at the group's flagship three-Michelin-starred restaurant on Royal Hospital Road, before heading north to become junior sous chef at Paul Kitching's Michelin-starred Juniper in Altricham, Cheshire.
He then returned to London and GRH to work at the then Michelin-starred restaurant at Claridge's, before becoming executive chef at Maze in 2005. In this role, he helped launch the first international branch of Maze in New York, as well as Maze Grill in London.
By Kerstin Kühn
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Published by: The Caterer