Daniel Clifford's Flitch of Bacon in Dunmow, Essex is set to reopen next month after a short closure with a new head chef and new menu.
The chef-patron of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Midsummer House, Cambridge admitted that since opening last year, the Flitch wasn't working as a pub and it will reopen with a more sophisticated menu to align itself more with Midsummer House.
"When I opened the Flitch, I wanted it to be a top-end pub. But pubs are not what I do. When people came [to the Flitch] they were expecting Midsummer House, or a toned down version, so we decided that is what we were going to give them.
"Given the rural location of the pub, in order to push the business forward the Flitch needs to operate as a destination restaurant, rather than a local pub," Clifford told The Caterer.
The restaurant, which officially reopens on 27 April, will now offer an a la carte menu as well as a tasting menu under the new head chef Martin Major.
The a la carte will offer a choice of four starters, four mains and four desserts for £55, while the tasting menu is priced at £70 including canapes, amuse bouche and petit fours.
"I need to stick to what I am good at, and a la carte cooking is what I am best at. I don't want it to be fine-dining in the traditional sense, I want it to be a more relaxed atmosphere. I want people to come and have fun. I don't want to be jack of all trades, I want to be the master of one thing.
"I just want people to have an amazing experience, enjoy the ambience, the food and the passion that we have for it," Clifford said.
Speaking of his appointment, Major told The Caterer: "I am originally from Buckinghamshire, so moving back the country after working in London [most recently at L'Autre Pied] appealed. And obviously working with Daniel was a massive draw. As chef-patron, he has invested in the Flitch and understands the business not just as a businessman but as a chef too. It is an exciting opportunity for me to move onto the next level in my career."
Major is keen that the menu at the Flitch remains seasonal and where possible will be using local producers and ensuring diners know where their food is from. "I am keen we learn about butchery, so I will be getting a whole lamb in for example. It's something I learnt a lot from Andy [executive head chef at L'Autre Pied] and keen to continue with that. We recently went down to a local pig farm where we'll be sourcing our pork from and that's a relationship you just don't get in London," he said.
"Daniel wants the menu to be completely different from before. He wants it to be the best in Essex; and that's what I want," Major added.
The restaurant will now be open from Wednesday evening through to Sunday lunch, which Clifford hopes will help employees have the right work-life balance.
"The staff at the Flitch have all been employed because they have a level of experience and knowledge, which is key to a successful business," he said. "This industry is getting harder. We either work with it or against it and if we work against it we are all going to burn out. I am a family man, I employ people with families and we all want time with our families."
He added: "Martin is really passionate. He is like a coiled spring; he just wants to go and cook. It is really nice to have some who is driven by food and the opportunity."
"I just want the Flitch to be a happy place and the only way I can get that is if the staff are happy there and that's the key."
Clifford has also appointed a new manager, Jorge Perreira, who has a number of years experience including assistant restaurant manager at Cliveden House hotel, Berkshire.
Chef Daniel Clifford buys Essex pub the Flitch of Bacon >>
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