Hill, who has a 50% shareholding in the business, will run The Walnut Tree Inn as a joint venture with Caradog Hotels Ltd which purchased the restaurant in May this year after it was taken into receivership.
Hill will not return to the stoves full time, but as head chef will write menus and train staff.
Roger Brooks, formerly of The Pheonix restaurant in Putney will head up a kitchen brigade of seven. Brooks worked previously at The Walnut Tree under founder Franco Taruschio.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for the restaurant and ate there many times while Franco and his wife Ann ran the place,” said Hill. “I hope it makes me some money, but more than that I’d like to restore at least some of the popularity and success it enjoyed in its heyday.”
Menus have not yet been finalised, but will be similar in style to those at the Glasshouse in Worcester and Fortnum and Mason in London where Hill will remain a consultant chef.
“I won’t be trying to copy Franco’s style; that would be catastrophic,” said Hill. “It’ll be a produce led menu. The chefs will spend more time getting the broth right for the fish stew than tying knots in chives to decorate it with.”
The restaurant will benefit from a minor refurbishment but will not be radically altered.
“It will be comfortable and a nice place to eat, but I don’t want it to have the sort of lighting and design you’ll find at somewhere like the Glasshouse,” he said.
Caradog Hotels, which also owns The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny, will provide payroll, administration and accounting services and will initially supply some front of house staff to the restaurant.
Shaun Hill began his career in 1966 at Robert Carrier’s restaurant in Islington and went on to win a Michelin star as head chef of Gidleigh Park. His Michelin starred Ludlow restaurant The Merchant House was voted 14th in the 2003 World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Hill will open The Gallery and St James Restaurant at Fortnum and Mason this month.
One of the UK’s most iconic restaurants, The Walnut Tree Inn was opened in 1963 by Franco and Ann Taruschio. The couple ran the restaurant until 2001 when it was sold to Francesco Mattioli, now of La Petit Maison in London.