Chef Robin Read quits exec role to get back to the stoves

Chef Robin Read has opened his debut restaurant as owner in his home town of Tunbridge Wells, more 30 years after a work experience placement with the Roux Brothers initiated his career.

The Counter occupies a three-storey Georgian building, and follows a successful pop-up hosted by Daily Bread in the nearby village of Rusthall, which convinced Robin there was a market in Tunbridge Wells for “a venue the town can be proud of“.

Robin’s wife, Greta Boccia, is in charge of the wine list and staff training. The couple met at Firmdale, a London-based hotel group where she was a restaurant supervisor and he ran the kitchens for 16 years. Before that, Robin worked for some of gastronomy’s leading names, from Albert and Michel Roux to Nico Ladenis and Marco Pierre White.

He remained based in Tunbridge Wells, commuting into London to work, but he and Greta have been thinking about starting their own restaurant for more than five years.

He said opening The Counter near his home was “a dream come true“. The restaurant’s name refers to the family’s tradition of food service; Robin’s forebears included a butcher and a greengrocer.

He added: “This project is about me returning to my roots as a cook and pushing myself. I don feel like a 50-year-old, I feel 25.”

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