Atherton, who has worked with Gordon Ramsay for nine years, will leave the group at the end of April. He will remain a shareholder in the celebrity chef’s company but hopes to set up his own restaurant business in the future.
Speaking exclusively to Caterer, Atherton said: “The rumours are true, I am leaving to do my own thing and I’m very excited about that. I’ve had nine good years with Gordon Ramsay and I have enjoyed inventing the Maze brand on Gordon Ramsay Holdings’ behalf. It’s been a great honour for me to take that brand globally, there are only a few chefs who have had that opportunity and I really thank Gordon for that.”
Atherton went on to say that taking Maze from one restaurant, Maze London, to six restaurants around the world had been a “massive” learning curve for him. “It has stood me in good stead for realising my dream, to open my own restaurant,” he said. “I look forward to announcing when and where in due course.
“In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family and I plan to take some time in the summer doing stages to develop my cuisine. I would very much like to thank Gordon and Chris Hutcheson for their support over the years.”
Atherton’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-profile chef departures from GRH including Marcus Wareing, who left to run his eponymous two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the Berkeley hotel, and Mark Sargeant, who recently joined pub group the Swan Collection as creative director.
Known for his modern fusion cuisine, Atherton was the first British chef to complete a stage at Spain’s iconic three-Michelin-starred El Bulli under Ferran Adria. He previously worked with Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis and Gordon Ramsay as executive chef at Verre in Dubai, before launching Maze at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square in 2005 gaining a Michelin star the folowing year. He opened sister restaurant Maze Grill at the hotel in 2008.
During his tenure as Maze chef patron Atherton has overseen GRH’s launch of Maze restaurants across the world including in London, New York, Cape Town and Prague, which is now closed. Additional Maze and Maze Grill restaurants are opening in Melbourne this week, with two more outposts planned for the Middle East later this year.