Top chef quit sold-out restaurant 'after clash over burger and chips'

Acclaimed 25-year-old said his position was 'untenable'

One of Britain's most hotly tipped young chefs has walked out of his acclaimed restaurant residency after just a month amid claims that he did not wish to cook "pub grub" such as steak or burger and chips.

Ben Spalding, 25, has won rave reviews for his innovative cooking at the John Salt bar and restaurant in Islington, north London, but yesterday he said his position had become "untenable".

His 12-course tasting menu had featured dishes including a brick coated in caramel glaze with chicken liver parfait and a 45-component salad.

The Independent's review of John Salt, which opened in November, praised Mr Spalding's "extraordinary" cooking and described his heel of beef as "like a roast on ecstasy; every taste is heightened".

But at the weekend it was revealed the young chef had walked out of his six-month residency with immediate effect, despite sold-out bookings into the New Year.

Announcing his departure, Mr Spalding hinted at a dispute with the owners of the restaurant. He said: "When teams part ways you hear a lot said about different directions. That is the case with John Salt and I. They wish to present a different food offering. I wish them well, but their plans are not my plans." Last night sources close to the chef claimed that he had refused to compromise and cook gastropub staples such as "burger and chips", although the restaurant declined to comment on the reasons for his exit.

Mr Spalding, who claims to survive on less than three hours sleep a night, has a CV featuring stints at the world's top restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal's three-star Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, and Le Manoir, the two-star Oxfordshire restaurant run by Raymond Blanc.

His last position was at Simon Rogan's critically-acclaimed and award-winning Roganic. Mr Spalding said he would "make amends" to people with bookings at John Salt and has offered to cook and arrange a venue for groups of disappointed diners.

He said: "We're looking for investors and at restaurant locations now with a view to creating something very special.

"I'm hoping I'll be able to invite you to my own restaurant very soon."

While Mr Spalding's carefully worded statement offered little insight into the reasons for his walkout, his postings on Twitter yesterday shed more light on the situation.

He said his position had become "untenable" and he would work permanently on his "terms" and with the "right people" in his next venture.

In another posting he said the situation had been "handled in a poor, disrespectful way".

John Salt said it would be offering a 50 per cent discount to customers who had booked expecting Mr Spalding's cooking. The restaurant said in a statement: "Together we have made the joint decision to finish on a high and to follow the different decisions we both wish to pursue.

"We wish Ben well with his future plans."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent