Former two Michelin-starred chef John Burton-Race has been appointed to oversee a new restaurant in the Grosvenor hotel in Torquay, the property which gained notoriety in Channel 4's The Hotel reality show.
Keith Richardson, owner of the Richardson Hotel Group, which bought the 46-bedroom hotel in 2012 from Mark Jenkins, the one-time hotelier who has relaunched himself as a comedian and entertainer, hopes Burton-Race will bring some "Michelin magic" to the hotel's new Brasserie and Terrace.
Richardson originally retained Jenkins at the hotel as "a host" to capitalise on his television fame, which raised the wrath of Torquay hoteliers for his eccentric and "unprofessional" behaviour.
However, he is now changing direction with the intention of promoting Burton-Race's background in "world-class dining", which has included working as head chef at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire; running his own restaurant L'Ortolan in Shinfield, Berkshire, where he achieved two Michelin stars, and opening his eponymous restaurant at the Landmark hotel in London in 2000.
"We aim to make the hotel a real destination, not only for tourists, but for locals too," explained Richardson. "We want to serve the very best food possible, and John is certainly the man to do it."
Burton-Race, a long-time resident of Devon, will be involved in in the kitchen design of the new restaurant, as well as menu planning food preparation. "We're so fortunate with the produce that's on offer locally," he said. "The animal husbandry, the pastureland and the seafood of the county allows my menus to have a real seasonal focus."
The move to Richardson Hotels, which is made up of five three- and four-star hotels in Devon and Cornwall, marks something of a departure for Burton-Race who has undergone mixed fortunes since departing from the Landmark hotel in 2002. While he established a TV presence through the likes of French Leave, Return of the Chef, and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, his more recent restaurant career has suffered setbacks.
He bought the legendary Carved Angel restaurant in Dartmouth, Devon, and relaunched it as the New Angel. The restaurant achieved a Michelin star, but was suddenly closed by his former wife, who he was divorcing from at the time, while he was in the Australian jungle appearing on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.
In 2014 Burton-Race relaunched the New Angel in Notting Hill, London, but closed it just over a year later. More recently he has run a private catering company in Devon called Two Grumpy Chefs with fellow cook Chris Sherville.
The Grosvenor hotel is continuing to operate whilst undergoing a refurbishment.
It will relaunch in early 2017 with its new restaurant.
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