Gordon Ramsay has enrolled the winner of his US television show Hell's Kitchen into the brigade at the Savoy Grill, which will reopen in October.
Californian single mother Holli Ugalde will complete a six-month placement at the restaurant at the iconic London hotel, which closed in December 2007 for a complete refurbishment estimated at £200m. She will work alongside Savoy Grill head chef Andy Cook at the former Michelin-starred restaurant.
Ramsay commented: "Holli won because she had grown more than any other chef. I am absolutely thrilled she will be working for me at the Savoy Grill."
While it was reported that Ugalde would join the Savoy Grill as head chef, the restaurant's chef director Stuart Gillies insisted she would be working under head chef Cook.
"Holly is a 24-year-old American girl who has won a high profile cooking competition, featuring Gordon Ramsay. Her prize was to work at the Savoy Grill. With her experience, she could never expect to run the place," he told Caterersearch.
Set to open on 10 October, the 100-seat Savoy Grill is undergoing a complete redesign overseen by design consultancy the Russell Sage Studio, which has been briefed to preserve the room's original table plan.
New features at the restaurant, which will also include a 40-seat private dining room, will include 1920s Art Deco lighting, wood panelling and recessed mirrors as well as silk and velvet fabric coverings.
Gillies and Cook have created a menu inspired by classic British and French dishes, with starters such as boudin blanc foie gras with spiced quince and king crab cocktail. Main courses will include lobster thermidor and beef Wellington from the trolley, while desserts will include peach melba, a dish famously invented by Escoffier at the Savoy.
"The aim is to go back to what the Savoy Grill used to be and there will be a large menu of dishes with a lot of theatre around them. It's all about the room and creating a great atmosphere," Gillies told Caterersearch upon his appointment as chef director.
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn
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