Former two-Michelin-star chef Martin Blunos is to join the Talbot Inn, in Ripley, Surrey, as head chef. He joins the 43-bedroom hotel alongside the new general manager Richard Hartley, as the property moves towards the completion of a £1m renovation.
The appointment of Blunos and Hartley follows on from the announcement in December 2015 that Bespoke Hotels had been appointed to manage the hotel for a second time, having previously operated the hotel until August 2012 when management of the former coaching inn passed to Marco Pierre White. Jupiter Hotels took over operations in April 2014.
Blunos previously held two Michelin stars at his restaurant Lettonie, which was initially located in Bristol before moving to Bath. The Bath restaurant eventually closed in 2001.
Since then he has worked in a variety of roles including as head chef of the Lygon Arms, in Broadway, when it was owned by Furlong Hotels, the forerunner of Bespoke Hotels; and as executive of the Crown Hotels and Restaurants (now dissolved) and Seaham Hall in Northumberland. Most recently he ran Blunos restaurant within the County hotel, Bath. He has also worked as a consultant and made numerous TV appearances, including on programmes such as the Channel 4 series Iron Chef UK and BBC 1's Saturday Kitchen.
Robin Sheppard, co-founder and chairman of Bespoke Hotels, said that Blunos' initial focus will be to create "sensational grub" at the Talbot Inn, rather than win Michelin stars. "He will then get involved in overseeing another hotel that we are in the process of taking over, which is located about half an hour away, as well as having a wider role within Bespoke Hotels, passing on his extensive expertise and inspiration."
Meanwhile, Hartley has joined the Talbot Inn, having spent six years with Bespoke Hotels, most recently as general manager of the Lugger hotel in Portloe, Cornwall. He has also worked at the Royal Kings Arms Hotel in Lancaster and the Imperial hotel in Blackpool.
Hartley said he was "delighted" to be joining the Talbot at such a crucial stage for the business. "The opportunity to revitalise a property with such incredible history is an exciting one, and I am looking forward to re-establishing the Talbot's reputation as a key regional wedding venue."
The improvements at the Talbot refurbishment include soft refurbishments of the bedrooms, suites, restaurant, bar areas and wedding facilities in the old stables. Cochrane Design is overseeing the new interiors.
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