One of the UK’s most celebrated chefs is joining Rockliffe Hall in Hurworth, County Durham.
Richard Allen, who has held a Michelin star since 2011, will be taking over the running of The Orangery Restaurant at the five star hotel and resort in January, when he joins as executive head chef.
Mr Allen, who has held three AA Rosettes for eight years, will work with the teams in Rockliffe Hall’s other two restaurants, The Clubhouse and the Spa Brasserie.
As well as his Michelin star, the chef has two of the highest industry accolades to his name - the Cateys’ Head Chef of the Year 2012 and the Craft Guild of Chefs Restaurant Chef of the Year 2012.
He is also one of the only chefs to have been named as one of Debrett’s People of Today.
Before joining Rockliffe Hall, Mr Allen was executive chef of the Michelin-starred Tassili restaurant at the 5* Grand Jersey Hotel and has worked with well-known names such as Martin Blunos, Cheong Liew and Michel Roux Junior.
Originally from Poole in Dorset, he has relocated to the North East with his wife and two sons and joins Rockliffe Hall’s new chief executive, Eamonn Elliott.
Mr Elliott has worked at prestigious venues all over the UK and Ireland, including eight years as general manager of the multi-award winning Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire and manager of the AA Irish Hotel of the Year, the Mount Falcon and Spa in County Mayo.
For the last five years, he was general manager of the Grand Jersey Hotel, taking it from an unknown four star hotel to the highest rated hotel in the Channel Islands.
While there, he won a Michelin star for the hotel’s restaurant and secured AA five star status. In addition, he has won numerous awards and is the current holder of the Institute of Directors Young Director of the Year.
Mr Allen said: “Rockliffe Hall and the North East have so much to offer and I have so many ideas that I am really looking forward to sharing.
“The team in place is so enthusiastic and, together, I am confident that The Orangery will become the region’s flagship restaurant offering a mix of informal yet informed dining.”
Mr Elliott added: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Rockliffe Hall as we have so many plans that will become clear throughout 2015. Both Richard and I are committed to making Rockliffe Hall the very best hotel, spa, restaurant and golf resort in the country. Richard is one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs and is passionate about working with the team at Rockliffe Hall to set The Orangery apart from any other restaurant in the North of England.”
The North East’s only venue with a Michelin star is the Raby Hunt in Summerhouse near Darlington, as head chef James Close secured a coveted star in the 2015 Michelin Guide for the fourth consecutive year.
Four other North East restaurants earned themselves a place in the guide, gaining special mentions in the ‘Bib Gourmands category’, for good food at competitive prices.
These were David Kennedy’s River Cafe in North Shields, The Bay Horse at Hurworth near Darlington, Terry Laybourne’s Bistro 21 in Durham, and Terry Laybourne’s Broad Chare on Newcastle’s Quayside.
However, there was no place for Newcastle’s House of Tides restaurant, which was opened by double Michelin-starred chef Kenny Atkinson in January, and the North East still falls some way behind other areas of the UK in achieving recognition.
Rockliffe Hall has seen its business and reputation grow internationally and staff numbers steadily increase since launching in November 2009. Having started with a team of around 150, the resort now employs over 320 mainly local people.
The golf club has also become world renowned and has, for the last two years, been the home of the European Tour English Senior Open attracting international names and Ryder Cup stars such as Ian Woosnam, Mark James and Sam Torrance.