Foliage, enunciated [foh-lee-ahj] for the record darlings, is the Michelin-starred flagship restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Knightsbridge. The same hotel that was once home to the Restaurant Marco Pierre White, where this celebrated chief won his record-breaking three stars before moving on to the Oak Room (winning three there again, then giving them back). Today, London is littered with MPW’s former protégés – Ramsay, Chavot, Howard, Atherton, Tanaka and of course many more – therefore it is apt and almost inevitable that one old boy now runs his former residence.
Chris Staines, starting in Suffolk, moved first to Llangoed Hall (1*), Sir Bernard Ashley’s Welsh country house hotel; then Lucknam Park (1*), Bath for two years; Chez Nico (3*) for another two; and next the Oak Room (3*). His two-and-a-half years there were interesting to say the least; just as he was joining, MPW was leaving and retiring from day-to-day cheffing, finally serving his last three Michelin star meal to a paying customer here in December 1999, before handing back his étoiles. Under executive chef Robert Reid, Chris worked his way up to sous chef, then head chef, helping the restaurant regain a star in 2001. The next year however, MPW decided to close the Oak Room and in March 2002, Chris succeeded Hywel Jones as head chef at Foliage, which had just earned its own first star two months before. Many of the Oak Room’s staff followed him to Foliage.
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