Great British Menu 2011 star Chris Bell has announced that he is to leave Paul Heathcote's Longridge restaurant near Preston and return to his home town of Ballymena in Northern Ireland.
Bell, who lost out to Chris Fearon of Deanes at Queens in the Northern Ireland heat of the current series of Great British Menu, will be leaving his position as head chef of the Longridge restaurant to take over the running of the River Room restaurant at the Galgorm Resort and Spa.
Galgorm is a country house hotel in rural Antrim with large conference facilities, a spa and grill room. The two-AA-rosette River Room restaurant seats 25 and is open from Wednesday to Saturday for dinner only and Sundays for lunch.
Bell told Caterer: "I was not seeking a move home or even looking for a new job, but when this opportunity arose I found it too difficult to turn down. The fact that it's in my home town just made it even more appealing.
"Over a period of time I woul dlove to achieve three-rosette status for this restaurant and push for recognition with the Michelin guide."
Bell said that he was sad to be leaving the Longridge restaurant, having worked there twice over the past seven years. "I met my wife, Kathryn, here and we now have a wonderful, five-year-old son, Billy. Paul has always been fully supportive and an absolute joy to work for and this move is not about an escape from my current employment - during which I've competed in the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year and the prestigious Great British Menu - neither of whcy would have been achievable without Paul's support."
The 33-year-old chef went on to say that his role in the Great British Menu had been the highlight of his career to date. "It's been an experience that I will always remember. I met some brilliant people and for a chef's profile it can only be positive. Given the opportunity to have another crack at it would be amazing and something I would definitely be up for."
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