Emma Underwood has been appointed general manager at Robin Gill's Darby's restaurant, set to open next to the new US embassy in London this May.
Chef-restaurateur Gill, who also owns the Dairy and Sorella in Clapham, is set to open his latest site in Wandsworth which takes inspiration from his father, a jazz musician who was nicknamed Darby. The 100-cover restaurant will feature an open fire and bakery and offer an Irish-influenced menu.
As well as an oyster bar and a bakery the focus will be on Champagne and live music, and the kitchen will be overseen by Dean Parker, currently head chef at Sorella.
Underwood joins Darby's from Mark Jarvis's Stem in Mayfair, where she worked as restaurant manager for the last year. She left her PhD in history to join Gary Usher's Sticky Walnut in Chester as assistant manager in 2012.
She later became general manager of Usher's Burnt Truffle restaurant in Heswall on the Wirral and general manager of Where The Light Gets In in Stockport, and had known Gill since doing a stage at his restaurant Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green several years ago before it closed in October 2017.
"I've always been a huge fan of the Dairy and Sorella," said Underwood, speaking to The Caterer. The biggest restaurant she has worked at previously was the 55-cover Burnt Truffle.
"Them giving me this opportunity is so, so exciting. It's a logical step. I've always run such small restaurants, which I love and which are wonderful, but in terms of progression this is a bigger challenge for me, which I'm ready for."
She added: "I loved Stem, but Darby's is such an amazing opportunity that I felt like I really couldn't pass it up. It's going to be a really good, fun restaurant, somewhere you can come in just for a glass of Champagne or a big five or six-course dinner."
Gill and the team will also operate the Sky Pool restaurant in the same building, due to open this summer.
Gill has also been reported to be connected with the food and beverage offering at Hyatt's Great Scotland Yard hotel in Westminster, opening later this year, however representatives of Hyatt and Gill have declined to comment.
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