As has been the way in recent years, if you wanted to get on the restaurant property ladder you bought a pub. The great thing about pubs is that they come in all shapes & sizes, and can often co-exist in a village with other pubs quite happily. There are food led pubs, almost bordering on restaurants; The Royal Oak, Paley Street and The Hand & Flowers in Marlow are two that spring to mind. Then there is the local boozer with the massive plasma TV showing football 52 weeks of the year, whose idea of pub grub is some grease soddened deep fried chicken & frozen chips. Each type serves a section of the community.
So when you already have a pub which is owned by former Heston Blumenthal protege Emily Watkins at The Kingham Plough serving restaurant – esque food, you have to think- why would anybody buy a pub 300 yards away with the aim of attracting a Michelin star? This is exactly what Lady Bamford (former air hostess & now doyenne of the organic food movement) has done. Lord & Lady Bamford purchased The Tollgate public house last month, but as per usual with stories like this ChefHermes.com was well on the case before the sale actually went through, to the point where the in house PR decided to deny it was happening when I emailed them.
Dubbed by one member of Lady Bamford’s staff as
The worst kept secret in Gloucestershire.
So it seems to be churlish to deny it was happening. The bigger picture of this is that should I have another story concerning this collection of companies, I’m less likely to approach the PR as I’m probably going to be lied to again. Moral of the story so far? If you’re going to try and deceive a blogger, be quicker to get your message out than them, otherwise you’ll lose any control on the story & your credibility will evaporate.
I’ve been told that the main aim for the chef to be installed at The Tollgate is to achieve a Michelin star, oh and before any recruitment companies reading this start to ring up the Bamford HR department or The Tollgate looking for the vacancy, I can tell you who it’s going to be. The chef tasked with achieving this accolade is none other than one of Lady Bamford’s own private chefs, by the name of Adam Caisley.
Mr Caisley does have a rather impressive CV: six years at Le Gavroche (leaving as senior sous chef); Stages at Guy Savoy, Gordon Ramsay – Royal Hospital Road & The Square and two years as private chef to Lord & Lady Bamford.
It’s obvious from those that know the background of the story that Lady Bamford appears to hanker after a Michelin starred eatery of her own. When Tom Aikens had his ‘moment’ and was sent to the culinary equivalent of Coventry, he entered into the world of being a private chef. It is rumoured that after he started working for The Bamfords that Mr Aikens agreed to help develop the Daylesford food brand & offering in return for investment in a central London restaurant. Needless to say that little episode ended in tears & is quite well documented on the internet.
As for The Tollgate in Kingham, it will continue to trade in its current, tired & well worn state before closing in early 2013 for a complete refurbishment and extensions to both the kitchen & the dining room. There is also a rumour, all be it not from a great source, that Lady Bamford would like to re-name The Tollgate to The Wild Rabbit. Only time will tell …
The re-naming of the Tollgate Inn has been confirmed, with an opening date for July2013