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Top 100: Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House, Flitch of Bacon

19 April 2018 by
Top 100: Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House, Flitch of Bacon

Overall ranking: 75 (new entry)

Chef ranking: 18 (new entry)

Snapshot

Daniel Clifford, 44, is best known for his two-Michelin-star restaurant Midsummer House in Cambridge, which he opened in 1998 with business partner Russell Morgan, founder of the Crown Partnership. In 2015, he bought the eight-acre Morgan's Farm near Ongar, Essex, encompassing a farm shop, cookery school and wedding venue for up to 250 guests, and became chef-patron of a gastropub, the Flitch of Bacon, near his home in Little Dunmow, Essex.

What we think

A self-confessed tearaway at school, Clifford discovered his passion for cooking during work experience. He spent the first 12 years of his career training in some of the best restaurants in the UK and France. His time with Jean Bardet in France, whom he cites as one of his biggest influences, Simon Gueller at Rascasse and Marco Pierre White at the Box Tree, have all contributed to his development into one of the UK's most respected chefs.

Despite Midsummer House enduring two devastating floods in 1999 and 2000, Clifford was awarded his first Michelin star for it in 2002, followed by a second in 2005 (the only new restaurant to earn a second star that year). The restaurant also holds five AA rosettes.

Clifford admits it took nearly 10 years as chef-patron for him to acquire real business acumen. But while he says he made some "howlers", one decision that has transformed the business has been the extension of the restaurant's conservatory, taking the number of seats from 38 to 58.

He also admits to having had a reputation for being "a complete terror". A turning point was viewing himself on Great British Menu. "I remember sitting down to watch GBM with the team, and I thought ‘I don't think I can work for that guy'."

Today, he works five days a week in the kitchen alongside his brigade and makes a point of walking in through the front door to understand more critically about what the customer wants.

His TV work has been a good source of publicity. He was one of the winners of the 2012 and 2013 series of the BBC TV show Great British Menu, and he went on to appear in MasterChef: The Professionals and Channel 4's Burger Bar to Gourmet Star, where he transformed a roadside burger van owner into a budding chef. In 2016 he became a judge on Celebrity MasterChef Ireland.

In 2018, Midsummer House was the only Cambridge restaurant among the Top 50 restaurants in the Waitrose Good Food Guide (it was ranked 20th). In 2014, it was voted the best fine-dining establishment in the UK and the second-best in the world for TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice Restaurant awards. In 2015 Clifford was named Chefs' Chef of the Year at the 2015/16 AA awards.

In a review in The Daily Telegraph in 2014, Matthew Norman wrote: "Clifford has his eyes firmly set on Midsummer House becoming the fifth British three-star restaurant."

Further information

Two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House to replace tasting menus with Á la carte >>

Daniel Clifford to reopen the Flitch of Bacon with new chef and menu >>

Chef profile: Daniel Clifford >>

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