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The Caterer

Annie and Germain Schwab

12 May 2005
Annie and Germain Schwab

Overall ranking: 97

Restaurateurs ranking: 33

Snapshot

Annie and Germain Schwab are the owners of Winteringham Fields, the two Michelin-star restaurant with rooms in the remote Lincolnshire village that gives the property its name. Germain is the chef while Annie handles the front of house side.

Career guide

Annie, who was born in York in 1946, trained and worked in Switzerland. Germain was born in Moutier, Switzerland, in 1950 and worked in hotels, restaurants and clubs in Switzerland and the UK between 1970 and 1985. The couple met in Zermatt, Switzerland, in 1969 and married two years later.

Their first UK venture was a private dining club, Beck Farm Restaurant, which they ran from their farmhouse outside York from 1980. In 1988, they set up Winteringham Fields.

What we think

Winteringham Fields was one of the UK's first restaurants with rooms. The 42-seat restaurant opened with four bedrooms and was later expanded to 10. This combination proved vital to support the cost of producing award-winning cuisine in such a small and remote site. "Employing 11 chefs for a 42-cover restaurant wouldn't be economically feasible without the bedrooms," Annie told Caterer in 2003, when restaurant and rooms contributed equally to the business's £1m annual turnover.

Winteringham Fields was listed in the Good Food Guide's top 20 in its first year, winning its first Michelin star in 1994 and its second in 1999. It has scored 9/10 in the Good Food Guide since 2000, has held five AA rosettes since 2002, and is listed in the AA Hotel Guide's top 200.

Diners can always count on Germain's presence in the kitchen - the couple will close the restaurant if he is away judging competitions or training students. He champions local food suppliers and holds refresher courses for local tutors.

The couple are actively involved in dozens of industry associations, including the British Hospitality Association, Master Chefs of Great Britain, Euro Toques UK, the Restaurant Association, and the Specialist Cheese Makers Association. Annie also belongs to the Guild of Food Writers.

Germain effectively summed up his own strengths when describing his ideal successor as Catey Chef of the Year: "Someone who is breaking new ground, but not in a crazy way: combinations must work, not just sound obscure; someone who wants to cook - not be a celebrity and portray a good image but actually encourage young chefs into the industry; and someone who is giving something back to the industry, not just building their own empire. In short, a talented chef who has integrity and respect for his trade."

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