Masterchef finalist to become 263 restaurant in Winckley Square’s executive chef

Posted on - 6th November, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Food & Drink, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, What's On in Preston
Mark O’Rourke and Oli Martin

Mark O’Rourke, restaurant entrepreneur, is preparing for the relaunch of his Preston city centre restaurant ‘263.’

Oli Martin, a BBC Masterchef: The Professionals finalist in 2018 and winner of BBC Masterchef The Professionals: A Festive Knockout in 2020, has been appointed as his new Executive Chef.

Previously, Oli was Head Chef of Hipping Hall’s 4 AA Rosette restaurant until October this year, but after eight years at Hipping Hall and following several lockdowns during the pandemic Oli wanted a change of scenery.

Mark O’Rourke’s fine dining restaurant 263, named in honour of his son’s birth date and located in Preston’s chic Winckley Square Hotel, has now been completely redesigned by Oli. The 32-cover restaurant has new décor, tables, seating, bar and artwork, and the kitchen has also received a major bespoke transformation.

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Oli said: “I wanted to take a step back from being on the stoves and the general running of the kitchen, to allow myself more time to be able to put my focus on the dishes, on the style of the service and the offering.

“Sometimes you need to step away from things to really progress.

“Mark and I had a few discussions and then once I’d visited 263, I knew it was somewhere with bags of potential and a place I could really see myself at home and making a difference.

“We both have high hopes for creating a unique dining experience and bringing something new to Preston – an area that is currently thriving with lots of new additions to its great dining and drinking scene.

“Lancashire, more widely, is a genuine gourmet destination and Preston is for many, the gateway into the county.

“I think 263 is just the beginning for myself and Mark, he’s a very driven and ambitious person who is always thinking about what’s new. We’re very much alike in that sense.”

Read more: Preston’s former Olive Tree restaurant to reopen as English brasserie in 2022 

Head Chef in Oli’s new kitchen is Rikki Hughes, who has an impressive background and has worked with some of the best chefs across the UK, and is joining 263 from Tom Kerridge’s 2 Michelin Star restaurant, The Hand and Flowers.

In the evenings, 263 will serve a single tasting menu, focused on the best available seasonal produce, with Oli’s love of heritage and foraged ingredients evidenced throughout.

Mark said: “I’m so excited to finally announce this rebirth of 263. Oli is definitely the man for the job, his style of cooking and determination to produce a great quality product is the thing that will make 263 a true success.

“I firmly believe that Oli will create a menu and a restaurant, that people will talk about in the same breath as the very best restaurants in Lancashire and the rest of the UK.”

263 is set to open on Friday’s and Saturday’s from November 26 until Christmas week. Opening times for 2022 will be announced soon.

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