Sam Moody is leaving the five-AA-star, 33-bedroom Bath Priory hotel after nearly seven years as executive head chef, to take on the role of head chef at Ballyfin, one of Ireland's most renowned country house hotels.
The former Acorn Award winner (2011) and holder of the Hotel Catey award for Chef of the Year in 2013 told The Caterer that after working for Andrew Brownsword Hotels for more than 10 years than it was now time to move on. Prior to joining the Bath Priory, Moody worked for Andrew Brownsword's Gidleigh Park hotel in Chagford, Devon, under Michael Caines.
"I had looked at opening a restaurant in Bath, but I couldn't make the numbers work," he said. "I then heard that Ballyfin was looking for a chef."
On visiting the 20-bedroom hotel, located on a 600-acre estate in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois, Moody said he was blown away. "It is a very, very special place. I have never seen anything like it before. It is full of character and the staff are incredibly friendly and relaxed."
Ballyfin, which is often described as Ireland's most lavish country house hotels, was opened in 2011 by Fred and Kay Krehbiel, following an eight year restoration. Moody will be responsible for the hotel's main dining room and a new more informal eating space for residents, which will open in 2017.
"I have had an amazing journey at the Bath Priory and will be forever thankful for the opportunity given to me her by Andrew Brownsword, who appointed me as head chef seven months after arriving at the hotel as sous chef," said Moody. "I leave behind an amazing team."
Looking ahead to his new role, Moody said that the key challenge will be in building up strong relationships with local suppliers and links with colleges to help with the recruitment of staff.
Having studied at Central Sussex College in Crawley, Moody started his career as a commis chef at Ockenden Manor hotel in Cuckfield, West Sussex. Two and a half years later, at the age of 20, he moved to Gidleigh Park.
Three years after taking over the head chef role at the Bath Priory, the hotel's restaurant was awarded a Michelin star.
The move to Ireland will reunite Moody with Damian Bastiat, now general manager of Ballyfin who was restaurant manager of Gidleigh Park when Moody was at the Devon hotel. Bastiat said he was impressed by Moody's passion and bold use of flavours. "Having worked together at Gidleigh Park some years ago I always followed Sam's career with interest and was delighted for him when he achieved his Michelin Star. Ballyfin has long been regarded as one of the finest hotels in Ireland and it is important that our dining experience lives up to this."
Moody will leave the Bath Priory on 11 September and take over his new position at Ballyfin on 10 October, replacing Michael Tweedie. His replacement in Bath is yet to be announced.
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