Celebrity chef Simon Gault has left the restaurant group that owns nine of the country's most popular restaurants, including Auckland eateries Euro, The Crab Shack, Fish and the Jervois Steak House.

Nourish Group chief executive Richard Sigley confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that Gault, a former MasterChef New Zealand judge who has been with the hospitality group for 12 years, ended his tenure as executive chef yesterday.

The group - whose stable also includes Wellington's Pravda and Shed 5, Bistro Lago in Taupo and Jervois Steak House in Queenstown - would announce Gault's replacement soon, Sigley said.

The restaurants were "bigger than the individuals involved" and business would continue as usual.


"Our restaurant brands are strong brands in their own right, recognised locally and internationally."

Gault had a limited shareholding in the group, which was being "worked through", Sigley said.

"Simon is a very talented chef and businessman and has contributed a great deal to our business. We wish him the very best."

Gault said the decision to leave was difficult. He was looking forward to new opportunities and having more time for family and business ventures.

"Nourish Group has been an integral part of me for a long time," Gault said. "It's been extremely rewarding to grow the business to nine restaurants."

He remained in charge of Simon Gault Home Cuisine and find foods import company Sous Chef.

Food and wine writer Lauraine Jacobs did not expect Gault's departure to negatively affect Nourish Group restaurants.

Gault had been a "guiding light" but "I don't think most who have gone to a Nourish restaurant have had a meal cooked by Simon for a long time.

"I think this is a terrific opportunity for the other young chefs in the Nourish Group to shine."