THE chef at Oxford’s only Michelin-starred restaurant says his success is putting the city on the food lover’s map, with tourists coming from across Europe to try his twist on nostalgic British cooking.

Paul Welburn is this week celebrating after his Oxford Kitchen, in Summertown, retained its one-star rating in the Michelin Guide – the world’s most respected restaurant guide.

The restaurant is one of only three in the county to have Michelin stars, along with Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, which has held two stars since opening 35 years ago, and The Nut Tree Inn in Murcott which has held one star since 2008.

Yorkshireman, Mr Welburn, 38, who lives in Woodstock, said he had been amazed to be awarded a Michelin star just months after taking over the Banbury Road restaurant last year, and is delighted to feature again in 2019. He attributed his success to his imagination and love of uncomplicated cooking, which had clearly wowed the judges.

He said: “We see people coming to Oxford from around Europe just to eat here. It makes me feel proud that a star is worth a detour and ticks a box.

"And we are one of the best value one-star restaurants outside London.”

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He said Oxfordshire had some great restaurants but the city lagged behind, saying: “I’m surprised there isn’t a list of good restaurants pages long in Oxford.

"It’s a city where ‘cut and paste’ chains overshadow independents, though there are pockets of good quality restaurants.”
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He cited Oli’s Thai, Arbequina and The Magdalen Arms, all in East Oxford, as outstanding destinations, and added: “Having more good restaurants in Oxford is only a good thing as it brings people here.”

It’s not hard to see why the Michelin Guide’s mystery diners were impressed.

Mr Welburn’s food is an elegant reimagining of his own favourite dishes.

So there are tiny Lancashire hotpots topped with powdered red cabbage; a deconstructed coronation chicken; partridge served with truffle and an espresso sauce; or ‘Cod-o-roe-eo’ – a cunningly crafted fish concoction which looks just like an Oreo biscuit.

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Mostly though, it’s just honest, often local, ingredients – Cotswold venison, for example, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. “We are playing with ideas,” he says. “It looks amazing but also tastes that good!”

Mr Welburn, earned his spurs at some of London’s top restaurants, at Le Manoir and on yachts in the South of France.

He trained under Gary Rhodes and Richard Corrigan, and previously held a star as head chef at Rhodes W1 in London’s Cumberland Hotel. He became a familiar face on television, appearing on The Great British Menu.

Having earned his Michelin star last year, Mr Welburn, who also has three AA rosettes, said his greatest fear had been losing it.

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He said: “You’ll always have a doubt in the back of your mind.

"There’s no room for complacency. You’ve got to keep pushing and not let your standards drop.

“Each year you’ve got to improve and show the guides you are keeping the place evolving.

“There’s a consistency that needs to be there though too, so you don’t want to change dramatically what made you what you are.”

He said it was also important to keep changing the menu but, where possible, retain staff.

“You don’t want to change your chef several times a year,” he said.

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He added: “We are not a country house hotel set in open grounds, but are a city bistro-style restaurant.

"My food is humble ingredients treated well; nostalgic British dishes with a modern twist.”

Tasting menus start at £59, two-course lunch menus at £22.50.

Book at 01865 511 149 or email