William Hemming to be head chef at re-opened Simpson’s in the Strand

By Hannah Thompson contact

- Last updated on GMT

The restaurant before its revamp
The restaurant before its revamp

Related tags: Winston churchill, Chef

Historic Savoy-owned restaurant Simpson’s in the Strand, which is currently undergoing restoration, has revealed that William Hemming will lead the kitchen when it re-opens this summer.

Hemming will bring over 15 years’ hospitality experience to the role, and was most recently executive sous chef at Sky Garden.

His new menu will focus on traditional British ingredients, such as Scottish beef and local cheeses. It will continue to serve the restaurant’s signature aged roast rib of beef on its historic carving trolleys from 1848.

First opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house named the Grand Cigar Divan, the restaurant was previously said to be a favourite of Sir Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, and Charles Dickens, but in more recent years The Savoy reportedly considered selling the site, before deciding on restoring and re-opening instead.

The 10-week restoration plans – which are being completed by Robert Angell Design International ‒ were first announced in February, and began on 17 April.  

A selection of luxury products and British cheeses will be on display in the dining room, and available for guests to buy.

The site was first opened by Samuel Reiss in 1828 on the site of the literary association, The Kit Kat Club, before joining together with caterer John Simpson in 1848 to introduce high quality food, wine and beer.

Simpson was the first to introduce serving trolleys to the restaurant, aiming to serve food to tables without interrupting patrons’ chess games.

In 1898, Richard D’Oyly Carte of The Savoy acquired the space as part of his hotel expansion project, and re-opened it in 1904 as Simpson’s in the Strand, Grand Divan Tavern.

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