What the heck is going on at Heckfield Place? 2

Yet another week goes by and some more juicy gossip arrives at my inbox, and as I haven’t posted any for a while it seemed about time. It concerns the beleaguered Heckfield Place near Hook.

The Hampshire country pile has suffered a number of set backs to the point where the natural turnover of staff is inevitable, former Executive Chef Chris Staines remained for 2½ years before moving on to The Abbey in Bath & now General Manager Charles Oak is in the process of departing.

ChefHermes.com understands that Mr Oak hasn’t completely left Heckfield Place but the use of

Gardening leave

was mentioned when I rang him yesterday afternoon.

Speaking to ChefHermes.com, the 47 year old Mr Oak said that he was

Taking some time out

and added that he

Had nothing in the pipeline for the foreseeable future.

Heckfield Place has been besieged with set backs and launch dates have consistently put back:Heckfield Place

  • Original opening date believed to be May 2010
  • Pushed back to April 2012 believed due to building of underground spa facility.
  • then Late 2012.
  • Currently forecast to be early 2013, but could be anybodies guess.

So nearly three years behind scheduled, its main competition in the form of Coworth Park (beset by its own problems) will have nearly a three year head-start over Heckfield Place should it open in Spring 2013.

After the departure of Chris Staines, Heckfield Place swiftly sought to fill position. Mr Oak appointed the newly Michelin starred Skye Gyngell as Culinary Director for both Heckfield Place and a new Soho restaurant, which was due to open last month. Yet another story broken first here at chefhermes.com

It’s hard to see where the blame lies for this mess, is it an over ambitious owner with a lack of insight into the hospitality industry? It’s not like there hasn’t been enough money thrown at this project. Besides names like Chris Staines & Skye Gyngell, Tom Parker-Bowles has been enlisted as a Food Curator, what ever that is.

I’d like to thank Mr Oak for his time & wish him all the best for the future, whatever he decides to do.