Matt Cheal, head chef at the Michelin-starred Simpsons in Edgbaston, Birmingham, is to leave after 16 years to open a restaurant of his own.
The 34-year-old chef and his father have taken over what was formerly Edmunds in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire. Cheal's of Henley, as it will be renamed, will undergo a complete refurbishment and will offer fine dining in a relaxed and informal setting.
Most of Cheal's family work in hospitality and it has always been his ambition to set up a restaurant with them.
The restaurant Cheal and his family have taken on has a solid culinary history, having previously held a Michelin star under Andy Waters, himself a former Simpsons chef, for four years.
Cheal's of Henley will focus on using the very best seasonal ingredients and continuing to work with many of the suppliers the chef knows through his time at Simpsons.
"I'm extremely excited to be heading up my own restaurant and I feel that the time is right. I've spent an amazing 16 years at Simpsons, progressing up the ranks thanks to the guidance of Luke [chef director Luke Tipping] and Andreas [restaurant owner Andreas Antona]. There's no better training ground than Simpsons and I've loved my time there so it had to be the right place for me even to consider leaving. Henley-in-Arden has a lot to offer a chef and we have a lot to offer residents there too."
Cheal's final day at Simpsons will be 9 August and he plans to open Cheal's of Henley mid to late September.
Tipping, who has been Cheal's mentor and friend for the past 16 years, said: "Matt joined Simpsons as a teenager - his first full time job. It's been great to witness his development from young commis to head chef and it's been a pleasure working with him. Cheal's will be a fabulous addition to the burgeoning Midlands restaurant scene and I wish Matt and his family every success."
Yannick Raymond, who spent three years working front of house at Simpsons, will take care of front of house as restaurant manager at Cheal's of Henley.
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