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OLYMPIC TRADE: Masterchef finalist to open restaurant
A FORMER MasterChef finalist is opening up a pop-up restaurant for the Olympics.
Claire Hutchings, who reached the finals of MasterChef the Professionals last year, is taking over Cafe Vie D’Amour in Weymouth town centre with her partner Ibraheem Musleh.
The pair will be offering a unique dining experience in the St Mary Street restaurant with a set five course menu for £45 a head that will change regularly during their three month tenure.
Claire, 23, said: “Pop-up restaurants are really interesting.
“You can be so elaborate with the menus and have them just running for a couple of days or a week or so.
“I’m hoping us coming to Weymouth will be great for local businesses.
“The business we are working with is a local business and all businesses are struggling at the moment so I think it’s brilliant to bring in the foodies to Weymouth.”
The couple have opened pop-up restaurants all over the country and even one in the Dordogne region of France.
Ibraheem, 25, grew up in Weymouth and studied at Weymouth College. He worked at Moonfleet Manor Hotel before heading to London to develop his career in Michelin Starred establishments.
He met Claire, from Birmingham, at Tom Aikens’ Restaurant in Chelsea, where they were both working.
Ibraheem said: “We work well together. We will both be doing the cooking and will do a bit of serving and chat to the customers about what’s on the plate and the produce.
“We plan to be quite interactive with the customers.”
The former Budmouth College student said he thought the pop-up restaurant would benefit everyone.
“We think that a pop-up restaurant is the way forward.
“We are creating a menu and we can make it as wacky as possible.
“It’s good for everyone. That’s what I think. We want to work with as many people in the community as we can.
“I wouldn’t mind going back to Weymouth College and working with the students.”
Diners who wish to sample cuisine made by the cooking couple are required to book ahead for reservations and should arrive at 7pm for drinks and canapés.
But some local traders have branded temporary restaurateurs ‘fly-by-nights’ who are cashing in on the Olympics.
Patrick Chubb, owner of the Criterion Restaurant on the Esplanade, said: “The council is feathering their own nests at the expense of local businesses.
“We disapprove of anything like this. Our rates are going up every year and they are very, very high.
“Our restaurant has been here 60 years or more.
“We have to try and survive through the winter and all these temporary traders are taking our trade.”
Competition not a factor
COUNCILLOR Ian Roebuck, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s spokesman for environment, said the effect on commercial competition was not a factor that could be taken into consideration by members of local authority planning committees.
He said comments on a change of use application by Weymouth College for 106 St Mary Street to serve food during the Olympics were taken into account.
He added: “Planning permission was granted by the borough council’s planning and traffic committee to change the use of 106 St Mary Street to a restaurant or cafe from July 23 until August 12, 2012.
“Everyone was given the opportunity to have their say about the proposal during a consultation period before the application went to the committee and all those responses were reported to the committee and taken into account by them.”