Chris Simpson to replace Lee Westcott at Pensons

Cara Houchen

Lee Westcott has announced he will be leaving Pensons restaurant just two months after achieving its first Michelin star.

He will be replaced by former Gidleigh Park and Restaurant Nathan Outlaw head chef, Chris Simpson who will take on his new role at the end of the year.

Pensons opened in January 2019 on the Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire, Lee took on the role of head chef after closing his London venture, Typing Room, in June 2018 after four successful years.

He said: “It’s been a real labour of love to be involved in this project right from the start; I have learnt a great deal from working so closely with the seasons and the produce here. I’m so proud of what the team and I have achieved in this time and the recognition that we have received has been a true honour. I am, however, excited to get back to the city I fell in love with, and what the future holds. I know that Peta, Chris and the team will continue to have huge success and I wish them all the best for the next chapter at Pensons.”

Chris will be looking to build on the successful opening year and said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be joining Pensons, with its bountiful surroundings, excellent local suppliers and fantastic team. I’m such a fan of what Lee, Peta and the team have achieved, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Peta Darnley, with whom Lee opened Pensons in January, said: "We are very sad to see Lee go, but wish him all the best for the future. I’m personally so happy to have worked with him on this huge venture: turning a derelict, disused barn on our Netherwood Estate into a restaurant with a flourishing kitchen garden. Lee and I are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together along with the hard work of the brilliant team. It has been a real joy. 

We are very excited to welcome Chris to the family, and look forward to building on the success of the last year.”

Having joined Gidleigh Park in January 2018, Chris enjoyed an award winning year heading up its kitchen with his skill recognised with a Michelin star in October 2018, won after just nine months in position and his first for his own kitchen. He left in January 2019. 

He spent seven years as head chef of two Michelin-starred, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, before that. 

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Cara Houchen

Cara Houchen

Editor 19th November 2019

Chris Simpson to replace Lee Westcott at Pensons