Former Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons chef Dave Watts has taken over the Crown pub in Upton, Hampshire, which he will reopen next month.
Watts spent eight years at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir, holding the position of sous chef, before his departure in 2009 to take on the role of head chef at Carmarthen's Hurst House.
He would go on to run the Star Inn pub in Sparsholt, Hampshire, followed by stints at the Vineyard Group and the Red Lion in East Chisenbury, Wiltshire.
The chef, who had recently been running private dining company Be Your Food, came across the Hampshire pub in April and saw the potential to grow its offering.
Taking over at the end of July, he has been refurbishing the site and preparing for a soft opening on 4 September, initially offering a small menu of pub classics including a homemade burger and pie.
As the site evolves Watts will offer both casual and fine dining menus across the 65-cover bar, dining room and conservatory, as well as a 12-cover private dining room; showcasing "really good quality ingredients, just simply cooked".
The chef wants to maintain a local pub appeal, as well as becoming a destination for food lovers, with the Crown also featuring a games room.
Describing the project as "exciting and a bit daunting", he explained: "I can deliver a different product that's enticing to everybody and has a bit of story and pizazz."
Chef-cum-landlord Watts will be joined in the kitchen by Tim O'Shea, who worked alongside him at Hurst House in Wales.
Watts said: "What I want do is make people happy, and that includes me and my staff. We want to source amazing ingredients and serve them with a smile – and obviously make some money to keep it going and keep reinvesting."
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