Two experienced chefs are to lead the culinary team at a top Northumberland hotel.
Local talent Paul Blakey – a 2014 Great North Menu winner – and Nicolas Kleist, who trained under Alain Couturier at Michelin-starred La Roche Le Roy, have been appointed executive head chef and head chef at Matfen Hall Hotel.
Paul, 44 and from Durham, has worked in restaurants throughout the UK including the Lake District, Durham and Kent, before spending three years in the Channel Islands where he obtained his first role as head chef.
Returning to the North East he was made head chef, firstly at Linden Hall Hotel, and latterly at Doxford Hall Hotel, both Northumberland.
An expert in Northumbrian cuisine, his main course of seared Thistley Haugh Farm guinea fowl, confit leg, creamed kale and root vegetables recently led him to victory in 2014’s Great North Menu competition organised by the North East Hoteliers Association, Darlington College and Kenny Atkinson from Rockliffe Hall hotel
Nicolas Kleist, who will be working alongside Paul, began his career at the age of 15 as a cooking apprentice at a brasserie in his home town of Tours, France, before being chosen to train at the world-renowned La Roche Le Roy.
Following his compulsory military service in Africa he moved to England and the North East, where he has worked at a number of Newcastle restaurants including 21 Queen Street, Cafe 21, the Theatre Royal and under David Kennedy at the Brasserie Black Door.
After spending two years at Matfen Hall, Nicolas has been promoted to head chef and will help lead the team of chefs at at Matfen Hall’s two AA rosettes Library Restaurant and the Conservatory Restaurant.
Managing director Bernard Bloodworth said: “We are delighted to welcome Paul and promote Nicolas.
“With expertise in fine dining and an unrivalled ability to create contemporary cuisine from Northumberland’s finest and varied ingredients, we feel sure they will be an asset to Matfen Hall.”