No fewer than six of the newly Michelin-Starred restaurants in the Great Britain and Ireland Guide 2020 are run by husband and wife teams, which leads one to suspect that there must, in fact, be plenty of upsides to such an arrangement.
Here are details of the couples who are making working together work:
Jordan Bailey & Majken Bech-Bailey
Aimsir, Celbridge: Two Michelin Stars
Impressively, this restaurant went straight into the 2020 Guide with Two Michelin Stars.
Cornwall-born Jordan oversees the kitchen, bringing with him overwhelming passion, supreme craftsmanship and a great understanding of flavours.
The luxurious room has only six tables and the 18+ courses are created from foraged, preserved and fermented produce which is almost exclusively Irish.
Majken, who is from Denmark, heads the charming service, and her team clearly enjoy and are proud of the work that they do.
The couple met in 2014, when Jordan (on a research trip from his then workplace, Sat Bains) dined at Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark, where Majken was working as sommelier.
They married in 2018 – and the opening of Aimsir a few months later was the fulfilment of their shared dream.
Laurie and Jacqueline Gear
Artichoke, Amersham: 1 Michelin Star
Laurie and Jacqueline Gear first met whilst working together at the Combe House Hotel in Devon.
In 2002, they opened The Artichoke: a neighbourhood restaurant in a charming 16C red-brick house in the centre of the beautiful old town of Amersham in Buckinghamshire.
A fire in 2008 meant the restaurant was forced to close, but the couple didn’t let this deter them; largely self-taught Laurie used it as an opportunity to complete a ‘stage’ at Noma in Denmark and a year later, the restaurant reopened with a few extra tables and a renewed sense of vigour.
Laurie’s menus list contemporary British dishes which have a classic heart, well-measured flavour combinations and a subtle complexity. Jacqueline oversees the front of house and her team are friendly yet professional.
Ben and Sophie Crittenden
Stark, Broadstairs: 1 Michelin Star
This tiny, ten-seater restaurant is the realisation of a lifelong dream for chef-owner Ben Crittenden. Before opening, he spent over a year refurbishing it with his father’s help – and his wife Sophie supported him every step of the way.
Ben’s two passions in life are cooking and his family; in fact it was his desire to spend more time with his wife and their daughters which led the couple to decide to open the restaurant back in December 2016.
‘Good food laid bare’ is their slogan and both the restaurant and the cooking have a stripped-back style. The regularly changing menu offers six no-choice courses and dishes are skilfully crafted, with bold flavours and plenty of personality.
Sophie provides the service (nipping behind the counter to help Ben when needed!) but has recently taken a step back due to the birth of their son at the end of 2019. Congratulations!
Michael and Johanna Wignall
The Angel, Hetton: 1 Michelin Star
Autumn 2018 saw experienced chef Michael Wignall’s return to Yorkshire – to take on the challenge of restoring the reputation of one of the UK’s most iconic inns.
By his side – and sharing his vision – has been his wife, restaurant manager Johanna, whom he met whilst working at The Latymer at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey, and married in 2015.
Michael’s cooking is accomplished and full of flavour and he makes great use of the bounteous local larder, including game from the surrounding estates.
He previously held Two Michelin Stars at The Latymer and subsequently at Gidleigh Park, so it was no surprise that, less than a year after the Wignalls took over this traditional 15C inn, it was awarded a Michelin Star – but the couple say that they have even more ambitious plans in place for the future.
Richard and Solanche Craven
The Royal Oak, Whatcote: 1 Michelin Star
This picture-perfect rural pub dates from 1168, reputedly making it one of the country’s oldest. It certainly has plenty of character – and was supposedly where Oliver Cromwell stayed before the Battle of Edgehill in 1642.
Richard and Solanche wanted to keep The Royal Oak a pub for the locals; to this end, it boasts a dart board, a pool table and an open fire – and more than half of the available space is given over to drinkers.
Chef Richard is passionate about British produce, using wild and organic ingredients which give his refined dishes real punch. He favours small producers in and around the nearby hills and estates; game is often shot to order – and it’s not unusual for people to trade a pint of blackberries for a pint of beer.
The wine list reflects Solanche’s homeland of South Africa – and this experienced restaurant manager looks after the service with an understated charm.
Paul and Helen MacDonald
Bastion, Kinsale: 1 Michelin Star
Paul is from Scotland; Helen hails from Limerick – and they met at Adare Manor where Paul worked as head chef back in the noughties.
Having cut their teeth working together at Mews restaurant in Baltimore, the couple took time out to go travelling before eventually moving to Kinsale to run this intimate wine-bar-cum-bistro, with Paul behind the stoves and Helen looking after the guests.
The partnership obviously works well, as Bastion gained a Bib Gourmand in 2016, before winning a Michelin Star in the 2020 Guide.
Tasting menus of 5 or 8 courses bear all the hallmarks of modern Irish cooking; high quality ingredients include plenty of locally landed fish and the resulting dishes are skilfully prepared with the occasional playful element.
For a list of all the New Star Distinctions and Award Winners for 2020 click here
For all UK Star listings click here
For all Republic of Ireland Star listings click here
For all Bib Gourmand listings in the UK & Ireland click here