Executive chef Dean Jones, who has worked alongside Manfredi for several years, will continue with the core Manfredi values of simplicity, elegance and sustainability, however intends to elevate the Italian dining experience. Dean Jones gained Michelin experience at London's River Café, and he promises to inject the pride and passion he believes gives River Cafe its unique popularity - the pride in every ingredient and the passion to cook it with the same sense of brio and devotion the Italians display.
For Jones, the executive chef role is a chance to introduce a fresh perspective but one that he is familiar with and committed to.
"Passion and commitment took River Cafe to great heights, and I know it can here, too," he says.
While assuming the mantle of executive chef, Jones will share the title of head chef with Jose Saulog (ex- Luke Mangans Glass Brasserie and the highly acclaimed Tetsuya's). "River Cafe had five head chefs," says Jones, "and the extra respect and responsibility in the kitchen pays real dividends."
Re-energising the restaurant is the first of a number of upgrades and expansions planned by owners Karina and Brian Barry who bought Bells at Killcare from John Singleton's Coast and Country Properties in June 2016. The Barry's have operated and hosted the upmarket retreat since 2007, and now freehold ownership gives them the opportunity to progress the property to its full potential. Prior to their decade of operating Bells at Killcare, Brian worked in senior roles within the wine industry and Karina's extensive background is in hospitality, most notably the acclaimed Rockpool Restaurant. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of Bells at Killcare with celebrations planned throughout the year.
They, too, have an enormous affection for River Cafe which made founders Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray legends of the British culinary scene and which produced a host of talent including Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Jones says the ethos of River Cafe should translate well to Bells at Killcare Restaurant & Bar with its coastal setting and extensive on-site produce gardens and orchards.
He says the menu will reflect the flavour and the spirit of the setting. Expect a comprehensive 'tidal pool' of seafood. His favourite ingredient at the moment is bottarga (salt-cured mullet roe). A dish of sea urchin, butter, spaghetti and bottarga is already creating excitement among educated palates. The menu will offer a timeless taste of Italy - both traditional and contemporary. There'll be the classics plus daily specials showcasing innovation and modern sensibilities but with a strong Italian emphasis.
Brian Barry says there will be no mistaking the Italian focus. He recently encountered sommelier Alessio Rubini and his team doing a cellar stocktake in Italian.
Jones and the Barry's say the atmosphere at Bells at Killcare Restaurant & Bar will be unmistakably one of relaxed sophistication. The restaurant's polish will underscore the impressive level of style, laidback luxury and attention to detail of the entire property, and reflect the standard for further expansion at the Barrys' haven of refinement.