In a surprise move, it has been confirmed that West Country chef Martin Blunos has taken over as head chef of the Lygon Arms in Worcestershire.
Blunos, whose former restaurant Lettonie in Bath held two Michelin stars before it closed in September 2001, had been expected to open a stand-alone restaurant in Bath's Royal Crescent hotel (owned by Von Essen Hotels) later this year.
Speaking exclusively to Caterer, a spokesman for Blunos confirmed that he had withdrawn from negotiations with Von Essen Hotels before Christmas after being approached by the Lygon - which was bought from Blackstone by the Furlong Hotels Group last summer.
Julian Ebbutt, the Lygon's general manager, said: "We've been famous for years for our hospitality, and we want the food to complement that. Getting Martin on board is very much part of how we want to be perceived."
Furlong is ploughing £3m into refurbishment of the Lygon Arms, with about £250,000 of that going into refitting its restaurants - the 90-seat Great Hall and 45-seat brasserie - and bar. Blunos will draw up his own menus for the restaurants when the work is completed at the end of February.
Blunos commented: "This is an exciting challenge to put the Lygon Arms back on the map. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to turn it around and make it grand again."
Blunos in a nutshell
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper, 15 - 21 January 2004