One of Birmingham’s top chefs has quit his restaurant following an acrimonious dispute with his partners.
Andy Waters has left Edmunds in Brindleyplace to work at a 16th century pub in Worcestershire.
But the popular chef has not ruled out a return to the city centre where his interpretation of modern British cuisine and his likeable manner won his a loyal following
Edmunds was launched in 2008 as a joint venture between Waters and brothers Chris and Cos Papachristoforou, who also run Cielo.
Mr Waters had previously been executive chef at Cielo and advised the Papachristoforouses when they opened Nuvo bar at Brindleyplace.
However, it is understood that the business relationship has been fractious for some time.
The writing was on the wall when Mr Waters’ wife Beverley, Edmunds’ front of house manager, suddenly left the restaurant last October.
Mr Waters, who had a Michelin star at Edmunds when it was based at Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, enjoys a close working relationship with Beverley, with whom he has two children. He is known to have been unhappy about the circumstances of her departure from Brindleyplace.
Beverley is now working at The Queens in Belbroughton, Worcestershire, and Mr Waters is to join her as head chef in a partnership with millionaire Black Country entrepreneur Jim Driscoll, famous for creating the animated Shoe People series for television.
Waters’ core kitchen team of sous chef Gareth Ward and Aaron Darnley, runner up in the British Culinary Federation Young Chef of the Year 2011, will be joining him at The Queens.
Mr Waters, a member of the Birmingham Chefs Alliance, declined to comment on the reasons for the breakdown of his partnership with the Papachristoforouses.
The 45-year-old chef will be reluctant for the Brindleyplace restaurant to continue to be known as Edmunds, which he named after his late father.
Mr Waters, who has made no secret of his disappointment at failing to win another Michelin star, said: “Obviously I am disappointed to be going.
“The business cannot go forward any more, from a Michelin guide point of view or anything.”
Mr Waters said he and Beverley had been inundated with messages of goodwill from customers.
A letter from one diner said: “Thank you to both of you for your support and friendship. It has been priceless. Once a friend told me the cream always rises to the top. She is right with you.”
Mr Waters’ described the bruising experience at Brindleyplace as part of a career “learning curve.”
He said: “It became an unsustainable business. I am annoyed but I also feel sorry to let my customers down. Hopefully, I will be back in the city centre before too long.”
Mr Waters stressed that he had no gripe with Brindleyplace, which he said had been supportive.
His departure from Birmingham is an undoubted blow to the city’s culinary scene and has angered senior professionals.
A senior chef at a leading restaurant said it was a “travesty” that Mr Waters was going, adding: “We have lost one of our own.”
Edmunds joint owner Chris Papachristoforou admitted that there had been a split but felt the restaurant remained in good hands.
He said: “We’ve had a very major breakdown in our relationship but that was the past and I try and look forward and whatever the reason was, it was a personal one.
“Andy is going but what is more important to me and my brother is that Edmunds will remain and will continue with the same aim of fine dining.
"As good a chef as Andy is, I think we can go one step beyond. In four and half years it is sad that it didn’t achieve a Michelin star and we intend to do what is in our capabilities to achieve that.”
Mr Papachristoforou said the restaurant had now recruited well known chef Didier Philipot, formally of Brockencote Hall and La Toque d’Or in the Jewellery Quarter, who he believes can set an even higher standard at the restaurant and ensure that the restaurant remains as popular as ever with its customers.
He said: “He is a classically trained chef who believes it is all about the food. You can have the presentation and the locally sourced ingredients but ultimately he is a wonderful chef. Andy is a very competent chef but so are thousands of others.
“People don’t go to Edmunds just for Andy, they go for the location and the food.
“Didier does not like to copy and promises to produce something very different.”