Andrew Du Bourg, who has headed up the Vetiver fine-dining restaurant at Chewton Glen for the past two and a half years, will leave the five-star hotel early next year. He takes the keys for the new, 60-cover venue on 1 February with plans to open his ‘nature-to-plate’-focussed restaurant a month later.
The chef told BigHospitality he had always envisaged one day becoming a Michelin-rated restaurateur, with an overarching plan to open more sites in the Hampshire area.
“When I was an apprentice I had massive ambitions – I wanted to have three three-Michelin-starred restaurants in London, New York and Paris,” said Du Bourg. “But then reality kicked in - I also want to be a family man as well, so I have to be realistic. We’ll start off with this little restaurant in Lymington and take it from there.
“I’ve been inspired by a number of chefs. I particularly love what Simon Rogan’s doing - growing his own produce and being proud of what we have in Britain. We want to go down that same route. I like foraging but I don’t chuck foraged goods all over my dishes just for the sake of it, if it helps enhance the dish then we’ll put it on.
“I’d love The Elderflower to get a Michelin star, it would be a great recognition. My dream’s actually always been to get two stars. I’ve always wanted to be one of the best – if I get two stars, I can look back on my career and say I did it right.
“Ultimately, I’d like to take over the South Hampshire area; I want to open three or four other places in towns surrounding Lymington, like Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst - it’s a 10-year plan.”
Prior to Chewton Glen, Du Bourg worked in some of London’s leading restaurants in London, including time as head chef of the Michelin-starred Club Gascon; sous chef at St Albans Restaurant; and chef de partie at the two-starred The Square Restaurant.
He will be heading up The Elderflower’s kitchen, with his wife Marceline – who is also Michelin-trained – overseeing the front-of-house. Dishes will incorporate ‘as much British produce as possible’, with a menu of five starters, five fish, five meats and five desserts.
Customers will also eventually be able to build their own six, seven, nine or 12-course tasting menus which will be priced between £55 and £90. There will also be an overall ethos of ‘self-sufficiency’ when it comes to sourcing ingredients, with Du Bourg looking to make his own cooking wines, spirits, vinegar and cheeses.
The restaurant also comes with four rooms, which will be individually designed.
Having financed the new venture with his wife and father, Du Bourg is fully aware that everything is on the line for his first restaurant to be a success, but he remains confident in the business skills he has acquired throughout his career.
“Of course there’s a lot of pressure, but I’m confident we’ll deliver,” the chef added. “I’m pretty number savvy and with the amount of work that’s gone into this restaurant I think I’ve really matured my business sense when it comes to dealing with suppliers.
“We’ll gut the restaurant out and put our own style on it. As we make money, we’ll be adding more things to it. I haven’t got hundreds of thousands of pounds behind me, so it will be an ongoing project. But I’m excited and can’t wait to open.”
The Elderflower will open in Lymington in March 2014.