Top chefs appointed as independent city restaurant grows team

An award-winning independent neighbourhood restaurant in Hull has invested in two new highly experienced chefs to grow the business and build on its popular offering.

(Left to right) Sous Chef Brendan Marjoram, Directors James McLeod-Birch and David Rooms, and Head Chef Jack Brooks outside Rupert & Darwin.

Rupert & Darwin in Princes Avenue welcomed its first guests in September 2019, offering seasonal modern food in a family-friendly, accessible and fuss-free dining environment.

It subsequently won Remarkable Restaurant of the Year in the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards 2020 (REYTAs) just five months after opening.

Having faced hospitality industry challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team is now beginning to overcome those hurdles with the appointment of Jack Brooks as Head Chef and Brendan Marjoram as Sous Chef.

Jack and Brendan, who both grew up in East Yorkshire, have more than 25 years of combined experience in the hospitality sector, having held various positions in the industry.

Jack began his career at Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons restaurant in Oxford and also worked at one Michelin-starred La Chapelle in London, before spending four years at Rosette award-winning hotels and restaurants near York.

Jack said: “It’s really exciting to have the freedom to be creative and reach a balance of great food without stuffiness.

“The team have genuine care and passion for food and I’m really looking forward to putting a new culinary stamp on dining out in Hull.

“I go home talking about food and writing menus, and it’s refreshing to feel like that again after such challenges in the hospitality industry.”

Brendan, who studied catering at Hull College from the age of 17, has worked in various cafés, café bars, pubs and restaurants, including as Sous Chef at the Black Horse in Little Weighton and latterly the Old House in Hull’s Old Town, where he was Head Chef.

Brendan said: “I’m so excited about the style of food Rupert & Darwin creates and it’s brilliant to be part of such a dedicated and professional team.

“During lockdown, I considered changing careers a few times. But I haven’t lost that fire and taking up this role has reignited my passion. It’s great to be on board.”

Rupert & Darwin is run by friends and business partners James and Beth MacLeod-Birch, and David and Raeann Rooms, who made their restaurant vision a successful reality just six months before the country entered its first lockdown and the hospitality industry was forced to close its doors.

The team worked hard behind the scenes to create “Something for the weekend, Sir?”, a carefully designed and personalised ‘finish-at-home’ dining package for its customers during lockdown, before reopening in May.

Director James also has more than two decades’ experience in the industry, including working for chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and the late Gary Rhodes. He said Jack and Brendan’s fresh approach will take Rupert & Darwin to another level while staying true to the restaurant’s original ethos of great value for money.

He said: “We’re really proud that our previous Head Chef and Sous Chef have both moved on to Michelin-starred restaurants for the next steps in their careers.

“Jack and Brendan bring a wealth of experience to Rupert & Darwin, which will enable us to progress and develop even more.

“We want to use their experience to further elevate the quality of the food we produce, with new dishes on the menu every one to two weeks to create a more dynamic dining experience.

“We’re not happy to stand still and keep doing the same thing. We want to keep being incredibly proud of what we do and Jack and Brendan are the perfect chefs to help us continue that.”

Demonstrating further growth, Rupert & Darwin is also collaborating with The Deep in Hull to offer visitors a private dining experience in front of the floor to ceiling exhibits and underwater viewing tunnel, with bookings increasing each week.

Following a private guided tour, diners can enjoy a five-course tasting menu based on the restaurant’s seasonal menu as they enjoy the aquatic surroundings.

James said: “It’s a completely unique dining experience and it’s amazing for us to be able to provide that in such a wonderful setting. It’s an honour to be asked by The Deep to get involved.”

A new lunch concept to compliment Rupert & Darwin’s à la carte menu, entitled “Something for the Daytime, Sir?” has recently been launched by the team. It includes lighter options for diners, from  sandwiches with skin-on fries to salads and hot smoked salmon, and is available from 12 noon to 2pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The à la carte menu features mouth-watering dishes including pan-fried red bream, rolled and roasted belly pork, panko and herb-crusted Dover sole, and spiced falafel, as well as desserts such as Eton Mess and dark chocolate mousse.

To book, or more information about opening times and menus, call 01482 444587, visit or email