The success of Brookes Restaurant is leading to some serious accolades. It was the only Oxford-based business to achieve recognition in the year’s Observer Food Monthly Awards, the most sought-after awards for chefs, restaurateurs and food producers in the UK. For recently appointed head chef Leon Allen this is welcome affirmation: “Winning runner-up status in the Observer Food Monthly Awards has been such a boost to the team. Ensuring our customers appreciate what we serve is our ultimate goal – and to get this sort of national recognition makes us all incredibly happy”.

It is also gratifying for the Brookes Restaurant team that first-time customers are often amazed by their experience. “It’s all about expectations”, says Brookes Restaurant boss Jonathan Warhurst. “They don’t imagine that a restaurant of such high quality would be on a university campus”. As the reputation of Brookes Restaurant grows it continues to challenge pre-conceptions and build a large and loyal fan base.

Recently appointed head chef Leon Allen has a clear vision for the future: “I want Brookes Restaurant to be a destination for food lovers. We will always aim to source the best quality, freshest ingredients possible and prepare them with care and imagination. The key is to balance creativity with simplicity, and to heighten natural flavours”.

Brookes Restaurant also gives the public opportunities to hone their culinary skills through its popular Cookery and Wine School. Chef Amanda Belz oversees a wide range of courses from ‘Authentic Thai’, ‘Indian Supper’ and ‘Around the World in Breads’ to bespoke programmes for children and those with specialist dietary requirements. And the intense kitchen environment provides the ideal setting for team-building courses.

As part of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, Brookes Restaurant is also a learning environment for undergraduate students from over 30 different countries. Whilst the School does not train chefs or those seeking operational positions, working in a respected restaurant gives students an insight into the management of a small business as well as an understanding of how to deliver a product and service of consistently high quality.

That Brookes Restaurant often welcomes the international culinary world’s most famous faces is one of its less well-known features. Regular visitor Ken Hom, known for introducing the Chinese wok to UK homes, recently hosted a dinner in honour of Jeremiah Tower, whose success with ‘Stars’ restaurant in San Francisco earned him the reputation as the ‘father of modern American cooking’. Brookes Restaurant was the setting for Claudia Roden’s 80th birthday, at which guests including Yotam Otollenghi and Madhur Jaffrey enjoyed an extravagant dinner prepared by Spanish chef José Pizarro. And it was also where Chef Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis prepared a celebratory dinner for Carlo Petrini, founder of the worldwide Slow Food movement. Jonathan Warhurst recognises the value of such events: “Our constant interaction with influential chefs, food writers and broadcasters is inspiring. How could you fail to get excited and to keep learning when you get this kind of exposure?” 01865 484803 or