Former Abbey and Juniper owner gets executive chef role

02 October 2009 by
Former Abbey and Juniper owner gets executive chef role

Michael Riemenschneider has been appointed executive chef at boutique hotel chain, Contessa Hotels, marking the latest chapter in a turbulent year that saw his two previous restaurants collapse.

The Swiss chef was forced to close the doors on the Abbey in Penzance, Cornwall, and Juniper in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, in February after they ran into financial difficulties. The development came weeks after both restaurants lost their respective Michelin stars.

But Riemenschneider has now returned to the industry and will oversee menus at all three Contessa properties in the North West while taking day-to-day responsibility for operations at its flagship Hillbark hotel on the Wirral where he will be chef patron at its Yellow Room restaurant.

The appointment follows a £1m investment in a new kitchen at the Yellow Room and the creation of a cellar room to host private dining and cookery demonstrations. The restaurant will be refurbished over the next few weeks before relaunching as Michael Riemenschneider at the Yellow Room.

Riemenschneider said the major challenge to broaden the appeal of the restaurant as more than just a special event venue.

"What we want to do is broaden the appeal so that people who appreciate fine food make ours more of a regular venue," he said.

Reflecting on the failure of the Abbey and Juniper, Riemenschneider admitted that running the business side of the restaurants became too much for him.

"There were problems behind the scenes and outside my control which I can't really discuss. But at Juniper in particular I think it's a fair criticism to say I took too much on," he said.

"I was trying not just to run the kitchen but to run and market the business. There's no doubting that we created a real impact on the table but I was trying to juggle too many balls."

But looking forward, the chef added: "Here I can totally concentrate on the food, which is where my real expertise and passion lies, knowing that there's a great team behind me taking care of business."

Juniper and The Abbey restaurants forced to close >>

Swiss chef buys Michelin-starred restaurant Juniper >>
Michelin starred restaurant the Abbey sold >>
By Daniel Thomas

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