Nathan Phelps and Kerry Foley are hard at work getting Whistlers in Chipping Norton ready for its grand reopening on April 14, when we speak.
Having taken over the reins in August last year, it’s been a bewildering time for the first time restaurateurs who were so keen to make an impact in the Cotswold town.
“It’s been tough because Nathan broke his leg in three places the weekend before we were due to open in August, and was on crutches until the end of January. He couldn’t even work in the kitchen because it was too dangerous, so we hope 2021 is going to be our year instead,” Kerry says.
“we love Chipping Norton. It’s such an amazing community and they have been so supportive during lockdown”
Kerry is Australian. The pair met down under a few years ago where Nathan was cheffing, and when he returned home, Kerry came with him. The former mental health nurse had wanted a career change, but she got more than she bargained for.
Having always talked about opening their own restaurant the couple began searching for their own place, and soon chanced upon Whistlers, whose head chef was Dave Hall, now exec chef at The Fishes.
“Whistlers already had a brilliant reputation for tis food, and we loved Chipping Norton. It’s such an amazing community and they have been so supportive during lockdown, ordering our takeaways and keeping our spirits up,” Kerry says.
“As for Whistlers – it’s small and intimate which is what we wanted, a bit more personal so that we can get to know our staff and customers while making the Whistlers experience as enjoyable and memorable as possible.”
Nathan has been a chef for 20 years and always dreamt of opening his own place. So what’s his cooking style? “Nathan wants to cook the food he wants to cook – the food that represents him. He doesn’t like to be categorised but there are modern French and classic British influences in his food,” Kerry says proudly.
“He makes everything from scratch from the bread to the pasta so it’s really fresh. It’s not until you try it for yourself that you will understand what I mean.”
And with Whistlers’ takeaway business thriving in lockdown, the pair are confident that once venture out again, their reputation for good food is already well entrenched.
“We have really fallen in love with Chipping Norton over lockdown so we are raring to go.”
“We are very excited about what’s ahead and the food we want to cook”
No wonder then that the pair are looking forward to re-opening so much. “We are very excited about what’s ahead and the food we want to cook and after the success of the takeaway we are confident in our customer base and what we offer. And with Nathan working hard on the menu and Kerry completing the outdoor dining area, and finalising her wine and cocktail offerings, it’s all go.
Which means from April 14 you can enjoy the Whistlers pavement dining experience with heaters.
So what can we expect? “Our initial menu will include a variety of daily changing specials such as scallops, duck confit and pork belly,” Kelly explains. “Nathan wants to offer something you wouldn’t ordinarily make at home.
“Once we can open for indoor dining as well we will look at making more significant updates to the current but seasonal changing menu.”
Whistlers is at 9 Middle Row, Chipping Norton OX7 5NH. Alfresco Dining runs from
Wed-Sun from 14th April 10am-2pm and 5pm-8pm. Get in touch at https://www.whistlersrestaurant.co.uk