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Chef Ben Spalding to take up six month residency at Five Eight Zero's Keston Lodge

By Emma Eversham , 16-Aug-2012

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Restaurants, Pubs & Bars

Ex-Roganic head chef Ben Spalding is to take up a six month residency at pub company Five Eight Zero's Islington venue Keston Lodge.

Ben Spalding will be in charge of the food offering from October at Keston Lodge In Islington, which is to be renamed John Salt

Ben Spalding will be in charge of the food offering from October at Keston Lodge In Islington, which is to be renamed John Salt

The chef, who left Roganic in April , has been placed in charge of food at the club on Upper Street after entering into a partnership with its owner Five Eight Zero, the group behind Shoreditch pub The Owl & Pussycat. 

Spalding will devise a menu of five small dishes, such as Greasy chicken skin, smoked cheese and wild marjoram and Cured Salmon, flaked almonds, lime cream, maple syrup and rotten mango juice to be served in the bar area while the venue's top floor will be turned into a 24 to 30-cover restaurant. 

Restaurant plans

Work is currently under-way to install an open kitchen with induction cookers into the restaurant area which will open in October and will coincide with Keston Lodge's change of name to John Salt. 

Spalding told BigHospitality: "I'm really keen on having everything we do on show and I want to incorporate the whole chefs serving diners thing into it. I love being able to interact with the diners." 

Ben Spalding at John Salt will feature 'serious cooking using rare and world ingredients' according to Spalding who will use the opportunity to showcase a style of cooking he has honed over the last few years. 

One of the restaurant's dishes for example will be Chicken on a Brick where Spalding will serve chicken parfait with crispy chicken skin, pickled corn kernels and white onion puree on a brick covered in caramel. 

"It's a chance for me to be more creative. I'm quite stubborn and I think it's time that I do my thing," he said. "But the most important thing is that I cook style with substance. It's not just about a dish looking good, it's got to taste great as well." 

Six months

Spalding said he had agreed to the six-month partnership to give him a taster of running a restaurant while he looked for a site for his own business. The deal will see him recruit a small team of chefs and front-of-house staff for the restaurant and will entail him splitting profits with Five Eight Zero. 

"The whole thing really appealed. The guys at Five Eight Zero were quite keen to do something with me and they've spent quite a lot of money on this, so it will be a good chance to gain some experience in this area," he said. 

"I'm still looking for a permanent site, but this is a great interim opportunity that has popped up. I've got a very good feeling about it and I know it is going to be successful. It's for six months and that will take me to mid-April. We'll see how it goes, if I get offered to stay on after that, well, we'll see." 

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