The University Arms in Cambridge, which is due to open in the winter as a “world-class” venue following an £80m refurbishment, has announced that former Gordon Ramsay Scholar and Acorn Award winner Tristan Welch is to head the hotel’s modern British restaurant, Parker’s Tavern.
The opening of the 110-seat all-day dining restaurant and 61-cover bar, which will operate independently as a standalone venture, will mark the return to the region for Welch, who has recently spent just over three years in the Caribbean as executive chef of the Cotton House and Beach Café in Mustique.
Interior designer Martin Brudnizki, who will be creating the look of the restaurant alongside the rest of the 192-bedroom hotel, intends to give the space the feel of a university college with chairs in blue velvet and burnt orange linen, sofas in burgundy wool and red leather Chesterfields, combined with hints of white marble, pewter and Cambridge blues.
Welch, who grew up just outside Cambridge, started his career in London, where he trained under Gary Rhodes, before he joined Le Gavroche. Stints then followed at L’Arpege in Paris and Glenapp Castle in Ballantrae, Ayrshire, before returning to London as head chef of Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus restaurant at the Berkeley hotel.
Welch was appointed to head the relaunch of the D&D-owned Launceston Place in 2007, before moving to the Caribbean in 2013.
Amongst his impressive list of accolades are the Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Awards of Excellence in 2001, Gordon Ramsay scholarship (2003) and The Caterer’s Acorn Award (2007).
Welch said he was thrilled to finally be coming home to Cambridge. “The menu will be as flamboyant as I am, with dishes reflecting my personality and passion for fuss-free, beautiful and downright delicious food, cooked with locally sourced and seasonal ingredients,” he added.
“I am honoured to have been so involved in the project, literally from the ground up, and can’t wait to showcase it to the local community and visitors alike.”
Parker’s Tavern is so named because it overlooks Parker’s Piece, an open space in the centre of Cambridge often used for sporting events, which in turn is named after Edward Parker, a cook who is believed to have become the first restaurateur in the city in the 17th century.
The University Arms is owned by real estate investor Melford Capital, who bought the property from the De Vere Group in 2012.