Barrowford chef takes charge at Michelin star Devonshire restaurant

Chris Simpson has taken the reigns at Gidleigh Park in Devon.
Chris Simpson has taken the reigns at Gidleigh Park in Devon.
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Perched in the midst of the Dartmoor National Park on the banks of the River Teign, a double-Michelin starred restaurant in a self-described "tranquil moorland manor" hotel has welcomed a Barrowford native as its new head chef.

Former Nelson and Colne College student, Chris Simpson (37), will run his first service at Gidleigh Park on January 12th after the restaurant's annual break, having taken over from Michael Wignall as Executive Head Chef at the establishment, which has been named as one of Waitrose Good Food Guide's top 50 restaurants in the country.

With experience working at Northcote Manor in Langho under celebrity chef, Nigel Haworth, as well as at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw - voted the best restaurant in the UK last year - in Port Isaac, and at a range of Michelin star restaurants across the UK and Europe, Chris says he is keen to get his teeth into what promises to be an the start of something special indeed.

"It's an exciting challenge and I'm looking forward to getting started," said Chris, who studied at the Nelson and Colne College Catering Department from 1996 to 1998. "It's an iconic place, is Gidleigh Park - it means a lot, it's a great opportunity.

"It's fantastic to work in Devon, we've got great produce around here, and it's a great part of the world," Chris added. "A little warmer than up in Burnley!"

Having spent time travelling in Australia, working in a range of eateries Down Under, Chris has also plied his culinary trade at Michelin-star restaurants in the Netherlands at FG in Rotterdam, as well as at The Vineyard in Berkshire, and Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh.

"I used to work at Northcote Manor when I first started when I was 17 with Nigel Haworth, who's a very original chef who uses the best of local produce, so I'm going to try and put that in place here as well," said Chris of his vision for Gidleigh Park, which has held two Michelin stars since 1998.

"You can get just as good food, it doesn't have to be Michelin, but the excitement of cooking at that high a level where the standards are very important suits my style," added Chris, who describes his culinary style as classic marriages of flavours with a modern twist.

"[Michelin quality] comes from personal preference."