Lee Westcott is to step down as head chef of Michelin-starred Pensons restaurant, on the Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border.
Westcott launched the restaurant with Peta Darnley, managing partner of the family estate, in January this year, winning it a Michelin star in October. He had arrived in the countryside after 12 years in London and Hong Kong, where he worked with the likes of Tom Aikens and Jason Atherton before opening the Typing Room in the Town Hall hotel in London's Bethnal Green, which he closed in June 2018.
Westcott will be returning to London, with Chris Simpson, who spent seven years in Cornwall as head chef of Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and a year as executive head chef of Gidleigh Park, stepping into his Wellington boots.
Darnley said: “We are very sad to see Lee go, but wish him all the best for the future. I’m personally so happy to have worked with him on this huge venture: turning a derelict, disused barn on our Netherwood Estate into a restaurant with a flourishing kitchen garden. Lee and I are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together along with the hard work of the brilliant team. It has been a real joy.
“We are very excited to welcome Chris to the family, and look forward to building on the success of the last year.”
Westcott added: “It’s been a real labour of love to be involved in this project right from the start; I have learnt a great deal from working so closely with the seasons and the produce here. I’m so proud of what the team and I have achieved in this time and the recognition that we have received has been a true honour. I am, however, excited to get back to the city I fell in love with, and what the future holds. I know that Peta, Chris and the team will continue to have huge success and I wish them all the best for the next chapter at Pensons.”
Simpson will join the restaurant from January 2020.
He said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be joining Pensons, with its bountiful surroundings, excellent local suppliers and fantastic team. I’m such a fan of what Lee, Peta and the team have achieved, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
Joining Simpson will be new restaurant general manager, Jim Conway, who spent the last four years at the Raby Hunt in Summerhouse, Darlington.