Former Michelin-starred chef Chris Staines has been appointed head chef and food and beverage director at the 60-bedroom Abbey hotel in Bath, which was recently acquired by Ian and Christa Taylor.
Staines will join the Abbey hotel in March from Heckfield Place in Hampshire, where he was executive chef and director of food and beverage. Heckfield Place is currently closed for a major refurbishment which is due to be completed towards the end of 2012.
His appointment marks the first step in a £1.5m modernisation programme recently announced by the hotel's new owners, Ian and Christa Taylor.
Staines aims to revitalise the hotel's entire food offering, transforming both the menu and, over time, the look and feel of the restaurant, currently the Bath Tea Rooms, which will eventually become a standalone operation.
Staines told TheCaterer.com the idea is to create a modern, informal, bistro with a focus on simple cooking using high quality ingredients.
"Initially we will continue to run the restaurant in its current state but the idea is to close it next January for a complete refurbishment," he said.
"Bath is a very cosmopolitan, vibrant and young city and there's a real opportunity for a mid-market, relaxed restaurant offering simple food but with a real focus on quality."
Ian Taylor added: "When I took over the Abbey, my plan was to make some changes to the hotel to make it more attractive to local people as much as to the tourist market. The restaurant is an ideal starting point.
"With Chris's involvement, I'm confident the bar and restaurant at the Abbey have the potential to become an affordable "go-to" destination for people living in Bath whether they are looking for after work drinks and nibbles or something more substantial."
Triple Catey winners Ian and Christa Taylor bought the Abbey hotel - one of the oldest in Bath - from Compass Hotels, which ran it for 23 years under the Best Western brand.
Staines held a Michelin star at Foliage at London's Mandarin Oriental hotel, which he left in 2009. He previously worked with Marco Pierre White at the three-Michelin-starred Oak Room.
By Kerstin Kühn
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Published by: The Caterer