Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Overall ranking: 84 (ranked 95 in 2010)

Chef ranking: 28 (ranked 30 in 2010)

Sat Bains - Snapshot

Sat Bains is the chef-proprietor of Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms in Nottingham, which won the city's first Michelin star in 2003. Housed in a converted Victorian farmhouse on the outskirts of Nottingham, the 32-seat restaurant also holds five AA rosettes, while the accommodation has a three-red-star rating from the AA.

Sat Bains - Career guide

Bains, the son of a Sikh family from the Punjab, was born in Normanton, Derby, where he completed his City & Guilds qualification.

He got his first break after moving to Nottingham as head chef of Jesse's restaurant.

Sat Bains was chef de partie with the team that opened Raymond Blanc's first Le Petit Blanc brasserie, in Oxford, in 1996. He then spent three months at London's Michelin-starred L'Escargot restaurant before returning to Nottingham in 1997 as head chef of the Martins Arms in Colston Bassett.

However, Bains's success in the scholarship won him the chance to work at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, France, and resulted in the invitation to become head chef at Nottingham's Hotel des Clos, the forerunner to his current enterprise.

The hotel restaurant was relaunched in November 2002 under Bains's own name and scooped a Michelin star the following year. However, 2003 ended with the hotel being put on the market for £1.1m.

Undaunted by the sale of the hotel in September 2004, Bains bought a 15-year lease on the restaurant, which he planned to reopen as a separate business by the end of the year after a £250,000 refurbishment.

However, when, in the spring of 2005 the chance to buy a 15-year lease on the hotel also arose, Bains and his wife, Amanda, jumped at it, and the restaurant became the current Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms. Their boldness was vindicated with the award of four AA rosettes in 2006, followed by the AA Best English Restaurant award for 2006-07. In 2009 the restaurant received the AA's highest accolade of five rosettes.

His support of local suppliers and his work placing the East Midlands on the culinary map resulted in a Honorary Doctorate of Professional Practice by the University of Derby Buxton in October 2010.

Sat Bains - What we think

Sat Bains is one of just a handful of British chefs to have twice made the pilgrimage to the celebrated three-Michelin-starred El Bulli restaurant in Cala Montjoi, Spain.

The experience clearly influenced Bains's cooking style - described on his website as "taste, texture and temperature… classics with forward-thinking techniques" - as well as the trademark tasting menus at Restaurant Sat Bains.

Bains has developed and refined his cooking style over the past decade since winning the prestigious Roux Scholarship back in 1999. And over the past 10 years it has steadily won both him and the restaurant numerous plaudits: a Michelin star and Catey Menu of the Year in 2003, the Square Meal award for Best UK Restaurant in 2007, Observer Food Monthly's - award for Best Restaurant in 2008 - and, in 2009, the rare accolade of five AA rosettes, as well as Best Restaurant Chef at the 2010 Craft Guild of Chefs awards and Best Chef in the Good Food Guide 2011.

While winning five stars was a career high for Bains - rendering him speechless, which he admits is a real rarity - the real profile-raiser for the chef was his appearance in the final of BBC's Great British Menu - in 2007.

"It had a phenomenal effect," he told Caterer - in 2010. "The series was in three million people's homes for five nights on the trot, and you can't buy that kind of marketing. It's kept us full for two years."

Plans for a more informal, tapas-style restaurant in the Nottingham area, which Bains told Caterer about last year, have yet to materialise, but one can assume that he won't remain a one-site chef forever.

Sat Bains' ranking in the 2010 100 >>

Sat Bains to receive honorary doctorate >>

Restauarant Sat Bains sole new winner of five AA rosettes >>

Sat Bains: the chef of Nottingham >>

Michelin-starred Sat Bains to open second site >>

Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms website >>

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