Aubergine, the Michelin-starred Chelsea restaurant made famous by Gordon Ramsay in the 1990s, is launching a country outpost at the Compleat Angler hotel in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Caterersearch can reveal.
Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, which operates the property, has teamed up with Aubergine parent company London Fine Dining Group (formerly A-Z Restaurants) to launch the new restaurant, which will open on 1 October.
It will replace Dean Timpson's eponymous restaurant at the hotel, which the chef quit earlier this year after just over 12 months of running it (Caterer, 10 July, page 7). Timpson, who had been executive chef at the hotel since 2001, ran the restaurant as a joint-partnership venture with Macdonald Hotels.
Alan Swinson, catering director at Macdonald Hotels, said Timpson needed a change in direction and the split had been "very amicable". "We thank Dean for all his hard work and wish him only the best," he said.
Swinson insisted that the profit-sharing joint-partnership concept remained a "powerful tool to retain talent" that could be rolled out across the group.
Aubergine at the Compleat Angler, which will be run under a lease agreement with the London Fine Dining Group, will be overseen by executive chef Billy Drabble.
The 45-seat restaurant will offer a French fine-dining menu similar to the London restaurant, but with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. It will also offer an outside catering service.
London Fine Dining Group's marketing and operations director David Herbert told Caterersearch the move to Marlow reflects the company's general desire to expand.
"We were one of a number of top end London operators to be approached about the restaurant and are extremely pleased about the project," he said. "We considered a few of our brands for the Compleat Angler but felt the French fine dining offering of Aubergine would work best in the environment."
Owned by chairman John De Stefano, London Fine Dining Group's portfolio of restaurants includes Alloro, Edera, L'Oranger, Zafferano and Memoirs of China, which the company plans to launch in Bahrain in October under a franchise agreement.
Herbert hinted that further overseas expansion in North America is also on the cards.
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By Kerstin Kühn
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