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Retiring Bourdin to write memoirs

The chef who has run the kitchen at London’s Connaught hotel for more than a quarter of a century has said he will retire at the end of this year.

Michel Bourdin, whose career spans 42 years, won a worldwide reputation and a Michelin star for the hotel’s two restaurants.

He said the time was now right to spend more time with his family at his new home in Provence, where he planned to write his memoirs.

“Of course I will miss the Connaught very much but I know I am leaving it in safe hands,” added Bourdin, who joined the hotel in 1974 as only its fifth French mƒitre chef since it opened in 1897.

His successor will be the hotel’s premier sous chef Jerome Ponchelle, who trained in classical French cooking in Rouen before joining the Connaught in 1988.

Connaught general manager Duncan Palmer said Bourdin had built a “tremendous reputation” for the hotel – described by US magazine Saveur as “the last French restaurant in the world” – and had groomed a successor who was “really attuned to what the Connaught is really about”.

He said the hotel would stay in touch to assist him in his memoirs. Meanwhile, the Connaught will offer a series of celebratory menus from October that will highlight “some of the great dishes he has created over the years”.

Bourdin, the first chef to win a Catey, established the UK branch of the Academy of Culinary Arts in 1980, is a mƒitre cuisinier de France and an honorary member of the Chef des Chefs club. He has also been awarded the Chevalier du Merite Agricole and Officier dans l’Ordre National du Merite by the French government and has an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wells University in the USA. by Angela Frewin

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