Chef patron steps down at Cleaver & Wake

Laurence Henry

Laurence Henry is to move on from his role as chef patron of The Island Quarter’s modern fine dining restaurant, Cleaver & Wake to “work on his own new projects”, with head chef Hira Lal Thakur set to take over.

Former MasterChef winner Henry helped launch Cleaver & Wake last year, helped to set up the kitchen operation and curate the food offering. He will now be moving away from the business to focus on his own new projects in 2024.

He said: “I’m immensely proud of what myself and the team have achieved in a relatively short time. Working with the team at 1 The Island Quarter and Conygar, the developer of The Island Quarter has been an experience of a lifetime, and I thank Conygar for the opportunity. I’ve certainly learnt a lot.

“Although I’ll be stepping back, it’s been brilliant to be part of the development and to help launch Cleaver & Wake. But, after three years, I’m now ready for my next challenge which will see me working on new and exciting projects of my own over the coming year.”

Following the news, Hira Lal Thakur, who has been head chef at Cleaver & Wake for almost 18 months, is to take a greater role at the restaurant, taking on more responsibilities across the team.

He said: “I’m thrilled that I’ll be taking a greater responsibility at 1 The Island Quarter – helping to drive forward an already successful and unique offering in Nottingham and providing our diners and loyal customer base with the top-quality dining experience they have enjoyed since we opened in September 2022.

“I’m now taking over the mantle from Laurence, who helped shape the Cleaver & Wake look and feel – creating something truly amazing for Nottingham. I will be using my passion and knowledge to take the brand forward with the support of the talented chef team here at The Island Quarter.

“In the time I have been here, we have served more than 22,000 customers in the restaurant and over 12,000 people in our events space which is a huge achievement, and I am looking forward to continue to build on what we have already done here.”

He added: “I’m passionate about training and helping people develop their skills, and it’s an honour to be a part of such a talented team who produce amazing food. I’m also looking forward to cooking for guests from across the world, and hopefully picking up three AA rosettes as well as a Michelin star along the way.”

Thakur has worked at several restaurants across Nottingham, including The Cumin Restaurant, Chino Latino, World Service, Restaurant Six – alongside Tom Seller who has two Michelin stars to his name – and The Old Vol, where Hira achieved his first head chef role.

John Whitehead, food, beverage and events director at 1 The Island Quarter, said: “Hira is a fantastically talented chef and has shown over the last 18 months that he has the skills to take Cleaver & Wake forward, allowing us to continue serving some of the best food in the city.

“He and the team will continue to serve really creative dishes using prime fish, shellfish, meat, poultry and vegetables – using some of the best ingredients to be found in the British Isles.”

Thakur was chosen from thousands of applicants to take part in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2020, which led him to the role of head chef and kitchen director at The Old Vol.

Christopher Ware, property director at The Conygar Investment Company, added: “We are delighted that someone as special as Hira has accepted our offer to head the growing team. His experience and achievements, including his incredible hard work at Cleaver & Wake, has really impressed us and know that our restaurants are in incredibly capable hands.

“We’re really grateful to Laurence for his help in getting this project off the ground – and making it the success it is today and wish him all the very best for the future.”