The Crown at Whitebrook, a Michelin star restaurant, one of just four in all Wales, was closed down ‘with immediate affect’ last week (6 3 13) leaving its Welsh Executive Head chef, James Sommerin and the establishment’s 19 staff, jobless.
Caerleon born James, aged 34, who lives with his wife and three children in Pontypool, gained the Michelin star for the restaurant in 2007 when he was just 28, The restaurant, under his stewardship in the kitchen, has retained that much sought after accolade ever since.
Further to the recent media coverage of the closure of The Crown at Whitebrook James Sommerin has released the following statement. James Sommerin, said: "I was employed as the Executive Chef at The Crown at Whitebrook. I had no financial interest in the business and I am as disappointed and surprised as anyone that Crown Hotels and Restaurants Ltd has run into such serious financial difficulties that it has had to close The Crown. The restaurant itself was very popular and extremely busy, however, I understand that other problems have arisen.
"Over the last few months I have been exploring an opportunity to open my own quality restaurant in South Wales. I told the owners of The Crown at Whitebrook about these plans at an early stage to ensure they had time to make the necessary arrangements before I left later this year (2013).
"These are extremely exciting times for me. Wales produces some of the finest ingredients and Welsh people have a real appetite for the highest quality food. Plans for my new restaurant are progressing well and my goal is to achieve a Michelin-Star once it opens. I hope to be able to announce my new venture in the coming weeks so watch this space!"
The Crown at Whitebrook, with James Sommerin at the helm in the kitchen,has scooped an impressive number of awards over the last couple of years, including:
· Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants: Best Restaurant in Wales 2012
· AA restaurant Guide: Wales Restaurant of the Year 2011-12
· Three AA rosettes
· 1 Michelin Star 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008,2007
· Wales the True Taste – Wales Restaurant of the Year 2009/10
· Top 50 of The Good Food Guide 2013 (27) 7
· Top 50 of The Good Food Guide 2012 (28) 7
· Top 60 of The Good Food Guide 2011 (30) 7
· Top 50 of The Good Food Guide 2010 (36) 7
· Top 40 The Good Food Guide 2009 (40) 6
· AA Centenary Awards 2008 AAWine Award, Wales
· Top 40 in Eat Out Magazine’sTop 100 Best of the Best UK Restaurants
· AA 5 Star Restaurant with Rooms 2007/2008
· AA Premier Collection “Restaurant with Rooms” 2007/2008
· Visit Wales 5 Stars as Restaurant with Rooms 2007/2008
· Top Restaurant in Wales 2007 – The Observer
· Top 10 fine dining rooms in Britain 2007 – The Times
· Top 7 Restaurant with rooms in UK 2007 – The Sunday Times
· Les Routiers Restaurant of the Year for UK 2007
· Condé Nast Johansens top 3 wine lists in Great Britain 2007
· AA Commended Wine List 2008