Owners of French restaurant in Sudbury raise toast to 15th year in business
Inspired by their French roots, business owners Alain Jacq and Stephané Chapotot pride themselves on serving home-made dishes at their eatery in Sudbury.
Having worked at a renowned hotel chain in London, the pair decided to focus on their own venture.
In 2004, they took over The Secret Garden in Friars Street from Mr Chapotot’s uncle, Jacques, meaning 2019 marks their 15th year in business.
The pair continued running the existing tearoom before creating a restaurant and wine bar with a café.
After living in the capital for nearly a decade, Mr Jacq, who is a trained chef, was keen to move to a rural town, which reflected his upbringing.
“It was great in London, but I wanted to return to the countryside, so it was a fairly easy decision to make,” said the 54-year-old.
Business partner Mr Chapotot, 46, is responsible for front of house at the business’ wine bar and restaurant.
Using locally-sourced seasonal produce, the dishes are created and cooked in-house, which are inspired by traditional French cuisine combined with dishes from around the world.
“We can be creative with our ingredients,” said Mr Jacq. “We are limitless – we don’t need to use cookery books.”
Having trained at culinary school in France, he draws on both his experience as a chef and traditional home-cooked dishes from his family’s self-sufficient farm in Dordogne, in south-west France.
“My mother has always been at the heart of my cooking,” said Mr Jacq.
The pair have formed a strong bond with staff, which is reflected in the atmosphere at the business.
“It’s warm and cosy with a family feel,” said Mr Jacq. “The team have been with us for years, so it’s like one big family.”
The eatery is spread across two premises, which are both Grade II-listed buildings.
The restaurant dates back to 1473, with the café built sometime in the 17th century.
“It’s a landmark in the town,” said Mr Jacq. “These buildings should be open to the public – they are heritage sites, so it’s fantastic that our customers can experience them.”