Jamie Raftery has been appointed head chef at Kit Chapman's Castle hotel in Taunton](http://www.the-castle-hotel.com/index.php) and will take over the kitchens on 1 November. He follows in the footsteps of Gary Rhodes, Phil Vickery and the current incumbent, Richard Guest, who have all spearheaded Chapman's vision for increasing the prominence of English cuisine.
Raftery, 27, won the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship in 2007 and as part of his prize he worked at Ramsay's restaurants in London, Paris and New York. He has worked under Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park for three years and assisted in the launch of the Michael-Caines-led Abode Hotels in Glasgow, Manchester and Exeter.
In 2009 he spent the year working for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in California, where Keller said: "Jamie's energy and demeanor are valuable assets to any kitchen. He is attentive to detail and cooks with precision." Most recently he has worked at the Fat Duck in Bray under Heston Blumenthal.
The Castle is the first head chef position for Raftery, who comes from County Galway and is the son of Irish poet John Malachy Raftery.
Chapman, who this week celebrated 60 years of his family's tenure of the Castle, said he is thrilled with the appointment. "Jamie will be the fifth head chef in 25 years to embrace my ‘English Project', although this time we may see an Irish accent in the Castle's cooking."
Richard Guest is leaving the Castle to launch his own restaurant in Somerset.
By Janet Harmer
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