Former National Chef of the Year and Roux Scholar Frederick Forster has been appointed head chef of Read's restaurant in Faversham as owners David and Rona Pitchford take a back seat in the business they launched 43 years ago.
Forster has joined the 55-seat Kent restaurant with six bedrooms from D&D London where he headed the kitchen of Plateau restaurant in Canary Wharf. He had previously worked for D&D as head chef of the group's Le Pont de la Tour restaurant before moving to the same role as head chef at the Don restaurant in the City of London, owned by the Bleeding Heart group.
David Pitchford, himself the winner of the National Chef of the Year award in 1986, said he was delighted that Forster had joined Read's having spent four years looking for the ideal candidate to take over the kitchen.
"It has been difficult to find the right person to join us," he explained. "The longevity of the restaurant has turned out to be something of a disadvantage in finding the right person. Unfortunately, several of the people who have joined us have wanted to change things too quickly rather than gradually evolve what we are doing.
"Frederick is old enough and wise enough to understand that we shouldn't change everything at once."
Forster first hit the headline when he won the Roux Scholarship in 2000 before going on to train under three-Michelin-star chef Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. In 2011 he was named National Chef of the Year and was awarded a Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts in 2013.
Pitchford first became aware of Forster's talent when he was a judge in the MCA event.
Forster, 46, said the offer to join Read's came at the right time in his career as he looked to move out of London. "I respect the ethos David has created at Read's and I'm enjoying the opportunity to cook a classical cuisine. I'm happy to help David and Rona move the restaurant forward."
Read's was initially opened by the Pitchfords, who are now both 70, in the village of Painters Forstal in 1977, before moving to a Georgian manor house in nearby Faversham in 2000. The restaurant held a Michelin star for 20 years from 1991.
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