Partnership with Royal Harbour Hotel owner sees Eddie Gilbert’s former head chef return to Thanet restaurant scene
Michelin-trained chef Craig Mather is to leave his post as chef lecturer at East KentCollege in Broadstairs, to take over The Empire Room restaurant in the Royal Harbour Hotel, Ramsgate
The venture is a partnership between Craig and James Thomas, owner of the award–winning boutique Royal Harbour Hotel.
“I am delighted to be forming a partnership with Craig – his skills as a chef, his experience and local knowledge will help build the reputation of the Empire Room restaurant,” said James.
Craig will assume responsibility for the club-like, 30-cover Empire Room from the beginning of July.
Prior to joining East Kent College in 2011, Craig was head chef of Eddie Gilbert’s gourmet seafood restaurant, which closed in May 2013 following the tragic death of its popular proprietor, Jonny Dunhill, aged just 49.
Whilst Craig, who trained for four years at the Michelin-starred Mallory Court in Leamington Spa, was at Eddie Gilbert’s it won a string of awards. It achieved two Taste of Kent Awards; was named Best Newcomer at the Kent Restaurant Awards and declared overall Pride of Thanet winner.
Before Eddie Gilbert’s, Craig spent a year at Yew Tree Inn, Barfrestone in Kent, when it won the Good Food Guide’s award for Best Newcomer.
Craig’s signature dish of soft boiled duck egg with crispy smoked eel soldiers was named ‘Starter of the Year’ by leading food critic Jay Rayner in an end of year restaurant round up in The Observer newspaper. Former fans of Eddie Gilbert’s will be delighted to hear that the dish will be reprised when Mather returns to the kitchen at the Empire Room restaurant.
Speaking about his time at East Kent College, Mather said, “It’s been brilliant to see the students’ progress and to support their development to succeed in this fabulous but hard-working industry.”
Craig graduated from East Kent College, (when it was Thanet College, whose alumni include TV chefs Gary Rhodes and Richard Phillips. He wants to maintain links with the college, offering work placements and plans to develop apprenticeships and also running cookery courses for the public.
“This partnership with James Thomas offers an exciting opportunity to bring a regularly changing menu, focusing on the best of seasonal Kentish ingredients, in a relaxed and unique restaurant environment,” he added.
Under Mather, The Empire Room will open for lunch offering a set menu at £12 for two courses and £15 for three. For Monday to Thursday evening service, the restaurant will offer a set dinner menu at £18 for two courses and £22 for three, plus a full a la carte. On Monday evenings the restaurant will host a weekly supper club, with three courses for the price of two. On Sundays the lunch menu will cost £19 for two courses and £25 for three. The restaurant is closed Sunday evenings.
The Royal Harbour Hotel, with 27 bedrooms is set across 3 period town houses in a distinguished Georgian crescent, over looking the Royal Harbour (granted royal status by George IV in 1821) and is within a 10-minute walk from the beach.
Double rooms start at £90 a night with a full cooked breakfast and evening cheese board included. Public areas include 3 sitting rooms with fireplaces and honesty bas, plus a walled garden at the rear.