Chef's excitement as he unveils Rhodes @ The Dome in Plymouth
A WATERSIDE landmark has finally been brought back to life – thanks to a TV chef.
Gary Rhodes officially unveiled his long-awaited Rhodes @ The Dome restaurant with a glitzy VIP event last night.
He granted The Herald a sneak preview as the former tourist attraction – closed in 2006 – was given a fresh lease of life.
Celebrity chef Mr Rhodes mingled with guests as he promised to provide simple, affordable food to reflect the "beauty" of the city.
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The restaurant will open to the public tomorrow and is Mr Rhodes' only one outside London.
He told The Herald it would be a fitting addition to Plymouth's already thriving culinary portfolio.
"It is always exciting to open a new place," he said.
"You wait so long and then it all comes together very quickly.
"When I came down here I fell in love with the city.
"It has so much beauty about it, the wonderful views it has along the sea line are quite incredible.
"That inspired me, so I have to introduce that into the cooking.
"I want to say a big thank you the people who have been so warm and welcoming to us."
The 16,000sq ft Plymouth Dome visitor centre opened in 1989, and pulled in more than 2.3 million visitors before being shut seven years ago.
In November last year the council put the building on the market in a bid to encourage potential occupiers to come forward.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: "To have someone of Gary Rhodes' calibre invest his time and name in the city is a real coup for Plymouth, not just for locals but for potential visitors.
"We are delighted to see the Dome – which is in such a great location at the heart of our waterfront – get a new lease of life and create a wonderful buzz about the city.
"We are waking up to the potential fine food on a plate has in selling our city.
"The quality of the food in the South West is already a key reason for visitors to come here and Plymouth is now part of this."
He added: "It is a great example of the council working with the private sector to create something special that will not only create around 40 jobs but will also bring more people into the city – which is great for our economy."
Mr Rhodes said the £1.5million restaurant would offer locally-sourced produce at affordable prices, promising it will not be an exclusive "fine dining" outlet.
"I want to give people food with flavour, simple dishes with attention to detail. That's so important and the chefs here are learning that.
"I want people to feel comfortable to come in for a coffee and a cake, they don't have to go for the whole three course experience."
Mr Rhodes will not be based at the restaurant, but said he will keep in regular contact to ensure his standards are maintained.
"I am not somebody who waves goodbye and thinks 'That's my job over.'" he said. "It has my name on it.
"If I am not involved and I don't have some form of control over the menus I am not interested.
"Do you think Georgio Armani designs every suit himself? No. But it's still a Georgio Armani suit.
"I have designed every single recipe. I can't be here every single day to feed it to the guests personally, but I will be on the phone to my head chef pretty much every day."
Firm celebrates at The Dome– Page 28