It has been an eventful 12 months for the Newcastle-based chef, who was named chair of judges for the prestigious National Chef of the Year cooking competition at the start of last year, taking over the reins from Paul Ainsworth. In addition to that, Atkinson opened his second Newcastle restaurant, called Solstice, in the summer of 2022, which quickly garnered praise from the critics. With just 14 covers, Solstice has given Atkinson the chance to push his skills and push for two Michelin stars to add to the one he has at his House of Tides restaurant and so far so good, with the restaurant being awarded its first star in the 2023 Michelin Guide.
Last year was a watershed moment for chef Jeremy Chan and Iré Hassan-Odukale’s two Michelin-starred Ikoyi, with the restaurant upping sticks from its St James’ site and relocating to a larger venue within the 180 The Strand building. The bold move has seen the pair create an entirely new restaurant with new dishes and a revolutionary approach for a central London restaurant in that it is not open at weekends and encourages guests to eat early to create a better work-life balance for the team. Despite the closure of the original Ikoyi and its reopening the restaurant retained its two-star rating in this year’s Michelin guide.
The former The Greenhouse chef made an instant impact when he opened a fine dining restaurant on the first floor of London’s Hotel Café Royal. Dilling’s immaculate contemporary French cooking has won praise for its quality of ingredients, intricate technique and beautiful plating, with the restaurant impressively winning two stars less than six months after opening.
The Frog chef-patron Adam Handling has continued to impress with his The Loch & the Tyne pub in Windsor being named highest new entry in the 2022 Top 50 Gastropubs list (it is ranked at number 32). Earlier this year he reopened his flagship Covent Garden restaurant following a refurbishment and also published his debut cookbook - an impressive three-volume set that was 10 years in the making. More recently still, he was crowned Great British Menu Champion of Champions 2023 with his trifle-inspired ‘Food Fight’ dessert declared the best dish at the Great British Menu banquet. There’s more to come from the chef this year, so watch this space.
Hicce co-founder Pip Lacey has had a fascinating 12 months, with the launch of Islington pub Hicce Hart and working with Jeremy Clarkson on his ill-fated Diddly Squat farm restaurant. Hicce Hart is an accessible pub and restaurant serving competitively priced food and drink that builds on Lacey and business partner Gordy McIntyre’s knowledge of the pub sector and has breathed new life into a well-loved neighbourhood location. More recently, Lacey has added pizza to her repertoire with the launch of Little Pizza Hicce at the Goodness Brewing Co taproom in north London’s Wood Green.
The former Tredwell’s chef-patron made good on her promise to continue the sustainability ethos of her Hackney-based pop-up restaurant All’s Well with the opening of Mayfair restaurant Apricity last spring. Here she takes a veg-forward approach using sustainable produce at the height of season from small-scale farmers as well as locally foraged ingredients and was awarded a Michelin green star for her efforts in January. At the start of the year Nicholson also launched Culinary Kids, a tasting menu for youngsters in partnership with charity School Food Matters, designed to help children expand their taste buds, learn more about where food comes from and explore seasonality.
The Chef of the Year will be announced at the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards, being held at The Hurlingham Club on 12 June.