The UK has seen the rise of culinary experts over the last 10 years, spawning dozens of Michelin chefs and television talent, all as innovative but realistic as some of the best business entrepreneurs. Since 2002, when Robert Thompson retained a second Michelin Star under Germain and Annie Schwab at Winteringham Fields, he opened the doors of this chic, new world of the culinary art and it was clear that he was typical of this new wave of chefs when he became the country’s youngest Michelin starred chef in 2006.
Inspired to cook by brother Patrick, he acquired a love of cooking at 10 years old and dreamed of owning his own restaurant one day. His most memorable food memory was when he visited the city of Paris with his brother, they ate at the Guy Savoy and Ducasse trying the tasting menus and eating too much but the thrill of dining and the love of fine foods became his great desire.
After Winteringham Fields Robert has worked diligently, taking leading roles at Cliveden and on the Isle of Wight where he was awarded a coveted Michelin Star within the first year at The Hambrough in 2009 which he held for 3 consecutive years. During this period he took on the role of Food Ambassador for the Isle of Wight.
The Independent’s Tracey MacLeod describes Thompson’s style as ‘classic-with-a-twist’. Pan-fried scallops with cauliflower ‘cous-cous’, Ras el Hanout and coriander shoots shared space on a recent tasting menu with a pressing of smoked eel, pork belly, foie gras and Granny Smith apple.
To date, his distinctive and committed approach has been in the employment of others, including the recent stint at Yarmouth’s The George.
Now, at the age of 33, he has decided to go solo. Robert Thompson’s style has always been a congenial one: his menus have remained brief and to the point, his style of cooking respectful of the old classics, yet mindful of a modern dining trend that values, above all, lightness and freshness.
He rarely serves anything that’s too tricky or trendy, only serving dishes that you can imagine he would enjoy eating himself. And for once, here’s a modern chef who hasn’t hopped on the Provençal-French bandwagon simply for the sake of trendiness – he is his own man. For instance, he always looks no further than the producers outside his front door and will continue to be an ambassador for Island food.
Portrait by: David Griffen