Chef Lee Westcott to open two restaurants at second Birch hotel

13 March 2023 by
Chef Lee Westcott to open two restaurants at second Birch hotel

Chef Lee Westcott will open two restaurants at the second Birch hotel in Selsdon, south Croydon.

Westcott, previously head chef of Michelin-starred Pensons on the Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border, will oversee the hotel's signature restaurant Elodie as well as all-day brasserie Vervain.

The chef will make use of foraged ingredients from the surrounding 200 acres – where he will also host nomadic dinners with guest chefs - as well as planting an on-site kitchen garden.

Westcott worked with Peta Darnley, managing partner of the Netherwood Estate, to open Pensons in 2019 and earned the restaurant its Michelin star that October, before announcing his departure a month later.

He had previously led the Typing Room restaurant in London's Bethnal Green, which opened in 2014 and earned four AA rosettes before its closure in 2018. Earlier in his career he worked with chefs including Tom Aikens and Jason Atherton.

Elodie, which will open on 27 April, will seat 100 covers and offer a five-course tasting menu showcasing seasonal British produce and foraged ingredients.

Vervain will open on 13 April serving contemporary British brasserie dishes across breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The new opening from the Birch group is set within a remodelled 19th century mansion with 181 bedrooms, two restaurants, three bars, a lido, wellness space, co-working hub and creative studions.

The group has launched a rewilding project across the surrounding estate working with designer, maker and environmentalist, Sebastian Cox.

Its intention is to create a northern hemisphere scrubland savannah with self-sustaining herbivores including long-horned cattle and Exmoor ponies. It is hoped that, in time, endangered species native to this part of England such as nightingales, nightjars and dormice will return in abundance.

The Birch hotel brand was founded by former Ace Hotel London managing director Chris Penn and Chris King. The first site opened in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire in August 2020 with two restaurants by chef Robin Gill.

Penn and King have since left the business ahead of the second opening, with a new management team put in place.

Ayo Akinsete, former area managing director for SH Hotels & Resorts, who oversaw the roll-out of Treehouse Hotels and also has 14 years' experience in hospitality, was appointed managing director.

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