Britain's highest-profile female chef, Angela Hartnett, is to join forces with Lime Wood, the country house hotel launched in the New Forest to great acclaim by Robin Hutson two-and-a-half years ago.
She will team up with Luke Holder, the executive chef at the five-AA-red-star, 29-bedroom hotel to launch a new restaurant, which is expected to offer an informal style of cooking with relaxed service within an unpretentious environment, at the end of January 2013.
The existing restaurant, designed by David Collins, will close in the New Year to undergo an extensive makeover by Martin Brudnizki, who has designed London restaurants Le Caprice, J Sheekey's, Corrigan's Mayfair and Hix.
The as yet unnamed new restaurant will mark Hartnett's first restaurant outside London. She is chef-proprietor of the one-Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Murano in Mayfair, which she bought from Gordon Ramsay Holdings in October 2010, and also acts as a consultant alongside Smart Hospitality for the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room.
Hartnett said that as well as looking forward to working with Holder, who shares her Italian heritage, and the Lime Wood team, she was also particularly keen to liaise closely with the local artisan producers, farmers and foragers in Hampshire.
"They are a great bunch of fun yet really professional people at Lime Wood; that's the reason why I wanted to work with them," she explained.
The new restaurant - which will operate alongside Lime Wood's second restaurant, the all-day Scullery serving British food - will offer a menu of Italian-influenced forest dishes, which will pull together Hartnett's and Holder's signature styles.
"I've always been a fan of Angela's food and am really excited to be working with her," said Holder, who was appointed executive chef after Alex Aitken stepped down as director of cuisine five months after Lime Wood opened.
"We are already working together on dishes for the new restaurant - it's all coming together very well indeed."
Hutson said that he had always liked Hartnett's food and confirmed that her involvement would be much more than just as a figurehead. "Either Angela or Luke will be in the kitchen," he explained. "Their partnership is a natural one, which will lift the restaurant experience at Lime Wood."
By Janet Harmer
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