After eight years commanding the stoves at Taunton’s Castle Hotel and BRAZZ brasserie, Chef Liam Finnegan will be leaving at the end of August to pursue an exciting new opportunity; he is to take up an executive role running Michael Caines’s restaurants in Devon and Cornwall.
Finnegan’s replacement as Head Chef will be 29-year-old John Godfrey, his Sous-Chef, who has been working at The Castle for much of the same period of time.
Over the past 40 years, The Castle at Taunton has become well known as a platform for gifted young chefs to showcase their aspiring talent. The late Chris Oakes and Gary Rhodes; Phil Vickery and Richard Guest are four notable examples.
Liam Finnegan has followed in their example with the 2020 edition of The Good Food Guide ranking The Castle the highest rated restaurant in Somerset among many other awards.
On John Godfrey’s appointment, he says:
“John joined me in 2012. He has developed into an outstanding chef and a fine leader. It’s been great working with him and it’s reassuring for me to be handing the baton over to him”.
Godfrey, a true West Countryman, has worked in a number of fine restaurants in the region. But, with each new outing, The Castle kept beckoning him home. This is where he cemented his long working partnership with Finnegan who became his mentor.
“Liam taught me attention to detail and people skills”, he says. “His drive and passion are infectious. I feel privileged to be taking over the reins from him. This is a challenge I shall be grabbing by the horns.”
Nick Chapman, Chairman of the family business, which this year celebrates 70 years as custodians of The Castle, added:
“John has won his spurs. He has all the qualities that make a great Head Chef – very much in the mould of Liam and his distinguished predecessors.
“Not least, few people will know that it was John Godfrey to whom we entrusted the security of the hotel and BRAZZ during the difficult three months of lockdown. He moved in and took care of the place as the sole resident. That trust speaks volumes about the nature of his character.”