As kitchen evictions go, this is a big one.
Celebrity chef and My Kitchen Rules judge Colin Fassnidge is leaving the Sydney pub Four in Hand after a decade following a change in owners.
Business partner Joe Saleh put the Paddington hotel on the market in October after 25 years amid a flurry of deals in the area in recent times. The Four was sold to Public House Group for a rumoured $8 million. The company, which also owns the Buena Vista in Mosman, The Collaroy and the Forbes Hotel in Sydney’s CBD, also recently acquired Paddington’s The Royal Hotel for $15 million and the Woollahra Hotel for a rumoured $30 million.
The sale comes two years after Fassnidge and Saleh bailed from the Paddington Arms and the area remains tricky for hoteliers. While Justin Hemmes’ Merivale Group is likely to succeed with The Paddington (the former Paddington Arms), launched a fortnight ago with former three-hat chef Ben Greeno serving whole roast chickens, the Bellevue Hotel, owned by the WDS Hotel Group, appears to be struggling following a relaunch that included a caviar and oyster bar and $28 glasses of champagne.
Fassnidge will leave the Four in Hand in early February, while Public House Group has recruited French-born chef Guillaume Brahimi from his eponymous restaurant across the road as the “culinary ambassador” for the group’s six hotels.
Colin Fassnidge told Business Insider that he’s “not ready to retire” but is looking forward to taking a month off after the two-hat Four in Hand restaurant closes on February 7 next year.
In the short term he plans to focus on his other joint-venture restaurant, 4Fourteen in Surry Hills, for the first half of 2016, and is looking for a new venture with Saleh.
“We’re looking to do another 4Fourteen style place, but a bit more like the Four,” he said. “We want to get rid of all the overheads that come with a two hat restaurant.”
The bar food side of the Four in Hand has been doing roaring trade, including a $24 Sunday roast, the fine dining fell back into critical favour this year after Fassnidge stopped trying so hard.
“We changed the philosophy of the restaurant and the more relaxed we got and the more freer we got with the menu, the more accolades we got,” he said.
Coming into Christmas, he’s putting the finishing touches on filming for the the 2016 season of My Kitchen Rules and looking for a new venture.
“We’re already looking, but we’re not jumping into it because I want to have a month off,” he said.
“But I’ll need to do something quick to keep me out of trouble.”
Public House Group founder and MD Mitchell Waugh said Guillaume Brahimi will be advising them on produce and sourcing, restaurant operations, HR and mentoring, as well as the menu changes.
He will also be guest chef at several special events in the venues in 2016.
“I have admired Guillaume and the product he has been able to deliver in Australia over the last two decades,” Waugh said.
“I believe that working together, combining Guillaume’s knowledge of Australian produce and French cooking techniques with PHMG’s experience in hotels, will create an experience for the patrons of PHMG’s venues that has not been seen before in the Sydney hotel sector.”
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