Dan Kenny

Dan Kenny

‘There wasn’t really anywhere in Brighton doing the type of food I wanted to be doing,’ he says. ‘I could’ve moved to London but I liked the idea of creating something new here, and I’m so glad that I did.’ Dan set about bringing his own modern British style of food, with subtle nods to his time spent in Asia, to various coffee shops and spaces around the city and in 2015 was offered the chance to set up shop permanently at The Artist Residence Hotel. The Set proved a huge success, quickly earning a reputation as one of Brighton’s must-visit restaurants and developing a loyal following over the course of the next five years.

However, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 would prove disastrous for the restaurant. Despite Dan’s attempts to stay afloat while the industry was shut down by offering at-home meal kits, he eventually had to part ways with the hotel later that year. ‘We tried as hard as we could to survive,’ he says, ‘but by January 2021, I was all ready to close The Set permanently and do something else.’ However, through a combination of determination and good fortune, at the final hour Dan managed to secure a new residency for The Set at Brighton’s Café Rust, whose owners had eaten at the restaurant in the past, and in mid-2021 The Set reopened, but with a slightly different feel and menu.

‘We massively downsized by moving into Café Rust,’ says Dan. ‘But what it has allowed us to do is cook the style of food and menu we’ve always wanted to. We didn’t want to overcomplicate things so there’s much less on the plate than there used to be and we’ll always put the sourcing of ingredients first. I want to keep the food as fun and interesting in possible, so there are always a few twists on things. It’s all about big flavours, lots of umami and lots of fat.’

Despite Dan having had a rollercoaster of a few years, his calm nature and skills as a chef have not only carried him through, but have actually led to him enjoying cooking more than ever (‘This is the happiest I’ve ever been in the kitchen and as a result I think the food is the best we’ve done’). His food at The Set may not take itself too seriously but given the skill with which it’s cooked, it’s no surprise that Dan continues to build a loyal brigade of fans in Brighton and further afield.