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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Rick Stein, the Seafood Restaurant

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Rick Stein, the Seafood Restaurant

Overall ranking: 69 (ranked 27 in 2011)
Chef ranking: 19 (ranked 6 in 2011)

Rick Stein – Snapshot

Rick Stein is the self-taught celebrity chef and restaurateur whose Seafood Restaurant put Padstow and north Cornwall on the map.

Stein’s passion for seafood helped spark a similar appetite in the public, which has lapped up numerous books he has written since 1988 and a plethora of television series which began in 1995.

He runs four restaurants, a cookery school and four shops in Padstow as well as a seafood eatery in nearby Falmouth and a pub in St Merryn. In 2009 Stein opened his first overseas venture, in Australia.

Rick Stein – Career guide

Stein, who was born in Oxfordshire in 1947, moved to Padstow in north Cornwall in 1965. He partially completed a hotel management traineeship with British Transport Hotels at its Great Western hotel in Paddington, London, before taking an English degree at Oxford.

Returning to Padstow, he opened a quayside nightclub known for its freeze-dried curries and its frequent brawls, which led to its closure by the police within a year. Stein converted it into a small harbour-side bistro – the Seafood Restaurant – in 1975.

It was joined by a café in 1995, St Petroc’s Bistro and hotel in 1997 and a deli in the late 1990s. Stein then added the Padstow Seafood School and Stein’s Gift Shop in 2000, accommodation site St Edmund’s House in 2001, a pâtisserie in 2003 and fish and chip shop in 2004.

Stein had a particularly busy year in 2009. In February he took over the lease of the Cornish Arms St Merryn, just two miles from Padstow. Then in October Stein opened, with his then fiancée publicist Sarah Burns, Rick Stein at Bannisters in Mollymook, on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. In April 2010 he opened another UK venture – a seafood barfish and chip shop and deli in Falmouth.

Rick Stein – What we think

Seafood and Rick Stein go together like cod and chips. The chef, whose cuisine is marked by simply-cooked top-notch ingredients, much of them sourced daily from local fishermen, has an infectious passion for fish. As he says: “Nothing is more exhilarating than fresh fish simply cooked.”

For 20 years Stein remained something of an industry secret until his friendship with the late Keith Floyd catapulted him into the national consciousness with his first TV series, Taste of the Sea, in 1995.

While his television career went from strength to strength, starring in programmes such as Fruits of the Sea, Seafood Odyssey, Fresh Food, Seafood Lovers’ Guide, Food Heroes and Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey in 2009, Stein continued to win plaudits for his cooking at the Seafood Restaurant.

It has retained three AA-rosettes as well as scooping the Good Hotel Guide’s Cesar Award in 1995, the Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year accolade in 1996, and the AA’s English Seafood Restaurant of the Year award in 2002.

When Stein won the 1999 Chef Award Catey, the judges described him as “a true chef’s chef” and he was voted the Chef’s Chef the following year by the AA. His passion for the industry at large is reflected in his efforts to raise cooking standards. He opened his seafood cookery school in 2000 and, in 2004, launched an interactive training programme to improve health and safety practices in catering.

Stein, who was appointed OBE in 2003 for services to West Country tourism, is also involved in local and national campaigns to raise standards among fishmongers and to conserve endangered fish stocks.

Stein’s imprint can also be found on the highly successful London neighbourhood restaurants run by one of his protégés, Sam Harrison. Stein has given financial backing to Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison’s in Balham and is on hand for support whenever Harrison needs it.

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