Richard Bainbridge on his new restaurant, Benedicts

The  Staff Canteen

Just over a month ago, Benedicts opened in Norwich, and unsurprisingly the bistro has already had visits from both the Michelin Guide and the AA Restaurant Guide, achieving two rosettes.

Richard Bainbridge was head chef at the Michelin-star restaurant, Morston Hall, for seven years before leaving in February to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant.

benedicts food 2

“I am so privileged and honoured that they came to see what we were doing," explained Richard. "The visit from Michelin Guide gave us a lot of hope to push on for the future. If we were that good in a week and a half, where are we going to be in 6 months or a year’s time?”

>>> Read: Richard Bainbridge leaves Morston Hall 

Although Richard left Morston Hall behind, he brought some elements with him on his new adventure. Ashley Williamson, sous chef to Richard, and Maddy Johnson, the manager of Benedicts, worked alongside Richard at Morston Hall.

“The staff don’t grumble about doing 18 hours a day, five days a week, and for me to have those people on board when we are just starting up… I couldn’t pay for that.”

“I have worked in kitchens where you are just a number, and I want to see Ashley and Maddy flourish into the people I really think they can be, and if in any way I can help and make that happen then that is brilliant, because someone invested in me, somebody gave me a chance once, to get to where I am now and I think to give that back would be amazing.”

Carrying on his ethos from Morston Hall, Richard is using the best of local sourced ingredients wherever possible at Benedicts.

“We’ve changed the menu a few times already. We opened with asparagus, but that season was over so a new dish went in its place. Using local products means I know the farmer who has grown or reared it, and I think that gives us something different and really shows who we are.”

It might seem like everything is running unusually smoothly for a start-up restaurant, which has been 80% fully booked since the opening date, but Richard says that’s not reflecting what’s going on behind the scenes.

“Me, my wife and my baby are living on an airbed upstairs. When you have a shower, the water drips through to the restaurant, which then trips out the lights and continues to trip out for the rest of a Saturday night service which isn’t great!”benedicts 2

“Then there’s working to a budget. We are working with suppliers who don’t trust us yet so they want payment after every delivery. At Morsten Hall I lived in a bubble where I didn’t have a budget, I could be as passionate and creative as I wanted to, and now I’m at the other end of the scale where every penny counts.”

Richard will be featuring on this year’s Great British Menu, which he hopes will gain more exposure for Benedicts. Eventually, he would like the business to grow, but not before investing in his staff.

 “If I could stand in my restaurant knowing that Ashley was in another restaurant I helped him set up, and we were doing it together, that would be the most amazing thing and gift I could give.” 

>>> Related: How much can it cost chefs to take part in Great British Menu?

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd July 2015

Richard Bainbridge on his new restaurant, Benedicts