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Hygiene boost for Mark Sargeant, owner of Rocksalt in Folkestone, who trained under Gordon Ramsay

By Sean Axtell

A Michelin-starred celebrity chef’s restaurant has been awarded the highest food hygiene rating.

Mark Sargeant’s Rocksalt restaurant in Folkestone lost the top rating in a row over pink chicken livers last year.

Now Shepway council inspectors have rated the harbour side restaurant five out of five, or "very good", following a January inspection.

Chef Mark Sargeant
Chef Mark Sargeant

The Food Standard Agency report said: “Rocksalt received a further unannounced inspection on 9 January 2018 at which time good standards were observed.

“The matters raised at the previous inspection concerning cooking of chicken livers had been addressed, although they were not on the menu at the time.

“A food hygiene rating of five was issued.”

Mr Sargeant, who trained under Gordon Ramsay, was subjected to the inspection after a customer who consumed chicken livers fell ill in August.

Inspectors branded the restaurant "improvement necessary" and scored it "poor" for food hygiene and safety.

Mr Sargeant then criticised inspectors and defended the cooking method, saying he learnt it at chef school.

Mark Sargeant at Rocksalt in Folkestone
Mark Sargeant at Rocksalt in Folkestone

In a heated public message he accused the council of wishing to turn the delicacy into a “rancid crumbly paste”, by cooking them medium.

However, Mr Sargeant hit the headlines again days after when the sick diner contacted KentOnline's sister paper, the Folkestone and Hythe Express.

He said Rocksalt’s lawyer Edward Sainsbury asserted the restaurant did not accept liability, but paid £3,000 to settle the matter privately.

Lawyers said at the time: “Whilst my client makes no admissions as to liability in this matter, they are on this occasion willing to make an ex-gratia payment of £3,000 in full and final settlement of any claim against them in relation to this incident.”

The diner, who wished to remain anonymous, was treated at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital in the cardiac ward for three days.

Food poisoning had triggered complications with the diner’s previous cardiac problems.

Carried out by local authorities, inspections brand establishments from 0 to 5, with five being the highest.

Businesses can display their score on a window, although it is not yet compulsory.

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