Lee Westcott to leave Pensons

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Lee Westcott to leave Pensons restaurant with rooms on the historic Netherwood Estate

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant

Chef Lee Westcott is to step down from his role as head chef of Pensons restaurant with rooms on the historic Netherwood Estate just a year after it launched.

He will be replaced by former Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and Gidleigh Park head chef Chris Simpson, who will join the team in January.

Westcott partnered with the Estate’s Peta Darnley to open Pensons at the start of this year, but despite being billed as a co-founder it transpires the chef had no financial investment in the project.

His plan was to create a “destination venue” using produce grown and foraged on the farm, and despite only being there a year succeeded in helping the restaurant gain a Michelin star in the 2020 guide to Great Britain and Ireland.

Westcott, who closed his well-regarded London restaurant Typing Room in June last year, is set to return to the capital in January.

“It’s been a real labour of love to be involved in this project right from the start” he says.

“I have learnt a great deal from working so closely with the seasons and the produce here, and I’m so proud of what the team and I have achieved in this time and the recognition that we have received has been a true honour.

“I am, however, excited to get back to the city I fell in love with, and what the future holds. I know that Peta, Chris and the team will continue to have huge success and I wish them all the best for the next chapter at Pensons.”

Traditionally a farming enterprise, Netherwood has diversified in to hospitality over the last eight years, with guests at the restaurant able to stay within its Grade II-listed The Hyde hall.

“We are very sad to see Lee go, but wish him all the best for the future,” adds Darnley.

“I’m personally so happy to have worked with him on this huge venture: turning a derelict, disused barn on our Netherwood Estate into a restaurant with a flourishing kitchen garden.

“Lee and I are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together along with the hard work of the brilliant team; it has been a real joy.”

Westcott cut his teeth working at Restaurant Tom Aikens and oversaw two of Jason Atherton’s restaurants in Hong Kong. He also staged at Noma in Denmark and Per Se in New York.

The chef opened Typing Room, which was initially backed by Atherton, in 2014. It was awarded four AA Rosettes (out of a maximum five) and was dubbed “bloody marvellous” by critic Marina O’Loughlin.

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