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Heston Blumenthal’s Right Hand Man Ashley Palmer-Watts Departs Illustrious Restaurant Empire

Ashley Palmer-Watts has overseen Dinner by Heston’s two-Michelin-starred success for years

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Award Ceremony Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage

Celebrated chef and anchor of Heston Blumenthal’s U.K. restaurant operations Ashley Palmer-Watts will depart the molecular gastronomer’s empire after 20 years. Sharing a statement on Twitter, Palmer-Watts said:

“After 20 incredible years, it is time for me to move on from Bray for a new chapter and take on fresh challenges.”

Addressing the restaurant’s staff, he said: “I am eternally grateful to all of you for the knowledge and memories I have gathered working with Heston and the group and would like to thank all the brilliant people past and present that have made the last 20 years nothing short of extraordinary.”

Watts’ next move — after spending time off with his family — is likely to be a exciting one; he, despite Blumenthal’s name on the door in London and Melbourne, is as much the architect of Dinner’s success as his more famous boss, holding the position of executive head chef. He was also head chef at the three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck in Bray, and is one of the most respected in the industry.

The announcement also comes at a particularly fraught time for Blumenthal, whose Australia outpost could be liquidated over wage theft, with the chef distancing himself entirely from the situation and claiming not to have owned a restaurant since 2006. Whether or not that has hastened Palmer-Watts’ departure is tough to say, given that “moments before a new decade” is as good a time as any to make a big career change.

More soon on his next move.