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Chef Kenny Atkinson to leave Rockliffe Hall to open own restaurant

16 April 2013 by
Chef Kenny Atkinson to leave Rockliffe Hall to open own restaurant

Kenny Atkinson, director of food at Rockliffe Hall, is to leave the five-star resort in County Durham to open his own restaurant.

The former Michelin-starred chef and Great British Menu star, who has been at the helm of the 61-bedroom property's food and beverage operation since its launch in 2009, said he plans to launch his own venture in the North East.

"I have done everything I can at Rockliffe Hall and I'm immensely proud of what we have achieved," he said. "But it's always been my dream to open my own restaurant and I feel like now is the time for me to make that jump."

Rockliffe Hall said in a statement that the decision to part ways was a mutual one, with Atkinson planning to return to the hotel throughout the next year for a number of special events and cookery demonstrations.

Nick Holmes, managing director of Rockliffe Hall, said: "Kenny has been a tremendous asset to the management team and has been instrumental in attracting and developing an outstanding team of chefs. However, all restaurants- including the Orangery- have always been managed by their own, very talented head chefs and this will not change. We're looking forward to still working on a number of special projects with Kenny in the forthcoming months and wish him well in his next venture."

Rockliffe Hall is home to three restaurants, the Orangery, the Brasserie and the Clubhouse with views across the Championship golf course.

Atkinson ran his eponymous fine dining restaurant Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery but was unable to regain the Michelin star he previously won at St Martin's on the Isles of Scilly and nearby Seaham Hall. However, Atkinson said not winning the star had nothing to do with his departure: "Of course it would have been fantastic to win a star but I think chefs put too much pressure on themselves."

Rockliffe Hall has since relaunched the three AA rosette Orangery as a more casual restaurant with a more extensive à la carte menu following a £150,000 refurbishment.

Atkinson added: "Business changes and it's a difficult area. Most of the market was going to the brasserie, not the fine dining restaurant, so it totally made sense to soften the approach of the restaurant."

Kenny Atkinson to open brasserie at Rockliffe Hall >>

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