Changes are afoot in Marco Pierre White's London empire, with the Belvedere taking on a new head chef and front-of-house manager and Chez Max expected to reopen as a new operation later this year.
Sources confirmed that White's long-standing partner Jimmy Lahoud would now be assuming greater control of the Belvedere restaurant in Holland Park, but a spokesman for White denied rumours that the pair were terminating their business partnership.
"Marco and Jimmy are very much working together on White Star Line-Marco Pierre White Restaurants, which remains structurally unchanged," he said.
Former L'Escargot chef Billy Reid will take over the Belvedere's kitchen "imminently", while his wife, Julie Blay, also a former White employee, is assuming control of front of house. White's spokesman said no changes to the menu or the style of the restaurant were planned.
Incumbent head chef Matthew Brown, who worked with White at his Hyde Park operation, The Restaurant, in the early 1990s, is leaving the group to start up a new family restaurant, also in London. The project will be Brown's first independent business, although White is believed to own the property.
"All parties are happy with the arrangement," said Brown. "I was planning to leave the Belvedere and am happy to continue my relationship with Marco. I have 100% respect for him - he's a lovely man."
Meanwhile, at Chez Max in Knightsbridge, White's spokesman confirmed a change of name was under discussion but emphasised that the business would continue to run as it is until the end of June.
However, the restaurant is expected to close for refurbishment at the end of July and reopen - potentially as a Drones-style operation - in September.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 27 May - 2 June 2004