BBC’s The Great British Menu winner, Chris Harrod has purchased the freehold of his Michelin star restaurant, The Whitebrook Restaurant with Rooms in Monmouthshire, with funding secured by Christie Finance.
Harrod had dreamed of being a chef since childhood and went on to pursue his passion working in some of the UK’s most prestigious kitchens, before spending four years learning under Raymond Blanc. He subsequently adopted a similar style to great effect, including an interest in foraging, which the Monmouth-based Whitebrook restaurant has built its reputation on.
Since purchasing the leasehold of The Whitebrook in 2013, Harrod used his passion and skills to re-establish the restaurant as a destination, fine-dining venue, culminating in achieving a Michelin star just under a year later in 2014. Since then, The Whitebrook with Rooms has gone from strength to strength, picking up a further four AA Rosettes and appearing on Waitrose’s Good Food Guide 2017 in the Top 50 UK Restaurants, as well as undergoing a refurbishment.
Having been approached over the years to take part in several televised cooking shows, Harrod appeared on the 2018 series of The Great British Menu on BBC Two and has since enjoyed an increase in custom as a result of the positive press.
The Whitebrook Restaurant with Rooms is situated in Monmouth, offering a boutique hotel with fine dining in situ, housed within a three-storey, detached property dating back to 1670. Harrod made the decision to purchase the freehold in order to pursue his dream and build upon the success he has achieved thus far.
His future plans include increasing the number of letting rooms and completely renovating the property, implementing a full events diary and maximising upon his Great British Menu success.
Harrod commented, 'I first met with Chris Field of Christie Finance over 10 years ago with plans to fulfil my dreams and open my first restaurant. It soon became clear that as a new start up in a recession, the banks did not want to know.
'A few years later I took the lease of the recently closed The Crown at Whitebrook and set about turning it into The Whitebrook Restaurant with Rooms. Happily for me, achieving all the aims and more set out in my business plan that the banks had said would not be achievable a few years before. So, I gave Chris another call and said its time to buy the freehold.
'The banks have been an absolute nightmare to deal with. We would meet their criteria then they would just change the goal posts. They show no support to small businesses to let them grow in a time when the UK needs entrepreneurs to be opening and building our local economies. They fail to see us as a small independent business, instead grouping us as part of the larger casual dining market that has been struggling in recent times.
'Very few of the banks we spoke to could understand that The Whitebrook is a fine dining, Michelin star restaurant that is very much a destination restaurant that can bring in people from all over the country, and in my case the world, to a little hideaway tucked away in the Wye Valley - but Chris was always there fighting my corner saying that he was not going to give in until the deal was done.”
Chris Field, Director of Christie Finance who brokered the deal, commented, “I have known Chris for over a decade, he’s a chef with an exceptional passion and talent, and one who’s not afraid of some hard work! Owning his own freehold restaurant has been a plan which has taken many years to realise, but I’m absolutely delighted to have helped make this dream a reality, despite some challenges along the way. I have every faith that The Whitebrook will remain firmly on the map as one of the best fine dining experiences in Wales under Chris’ expert guidance. The purchase coincided with their 6-year anniversary since opening and I’d like to offer my congratulations to Chris and his talented team for yet again, retaining their Michelin star for the sixth consecutive year.