A Taunton-educated chef whose career saw him rubbing shoulders with Gordon Ramsey has returned to Somerset to take on a new challenge. 

Fifty-nine-year-old Rob Sawyer has taken charge of Wiveliscombe's White Hart Hotel, drawing on his decades of experience in the industry to deliver 'excellent food and value for money.' 

Mr Sawyer started out in the industry with London's Savoy Group, before embarking on a globetrotting career which saw him spending time with star-studded chefs including Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and Heston Blumenthal. 

Mr Sawyer isn't a stranger to owning his own business - he set up the Po Na Na group in the 1990s which boasted 67 clubs and 16 restaurants at its height - before opening hotels and restaurants in the Alps, the Caribbean and in South Africa. 

Speaking about his decision to take over the business, Mr Sawyer said: "I went to school in Taunton, and my parents live in Bathealton, so my ties to the area are profound,” he says. “I really wanted to work within a community, and create a place for people to stay, relax, and enjoy great food and drink.

“Here in Wivey, there’s room for more of a community feel. All of our food is sourced locally and our menus will be seasonal. Our head chef Dan, the brother of local star Joss Stone , knows his way around the locality, the farms, the suppliers, and also what people want.”

The revamp comes with a new menu, designed by head-chef Dan, who is now serving locally-sourced steak, Brigham crab cakes, scallops, Thai chicken curry and more. 

The sixteenth century building is also enjoying a renovation, with each of the hotel's 16 bedrooms to get their own antique four-poster bed and other period furniture. Mr Sawyer said: 

"There is really nowhere to stay around here, so if you’re working in the area, of live here and have guests but not enough room, then the White Hart should be perfect: home-style hospitality and great comfort with excellent food.  And wonderful value for money.”