In November, the company signed a 15-year lease to take over the entire ground floor of the Grade II listed building on Liverpool waterfront with plans to transform it into a fine dining restaurant, bar, wedding and events venue.
It is also understood that David Hughes, managing director of the project, has offered his resignation.
Van Zyl (pictured), formerly chef-patron of the Hanging Gate Inn in Cheshire, said in a tweet: “Well that was unexpected.
“My contact has been ended & I’ve been let go by Signature this morning, Cunard is being shelved until further notice and there’s no need for me any more.”
He added: “It’s a fairly big thing to go from a self employed employer to putting your trust in a vision; dreams and promises from an employer that makes you become an employee again; then it turns out to be all empty & hollow.”
A spokesman for Signature Living confirmed to the Liverpool ECHO that “acclaimed Chef Ernst Van Zyl has also come to the end of his initial three month contract and this will not be renewed”.
Owner Lawrence Kenwright added: “Our intention is and has always been to create an exquisite destination restaurant and events venue with Cunard House that also showcases a sense of theatre, as well as the beauty and history of this iconic building.
“As such everything we do in terms of service and the fine dining experience and offering has to be precise and to perfection and to our very exacting standards.
“In developing any restaurant or hospitality offering it is also vital to listen to feedback and as such we felt the necessary tweaks and changes needed to be made ahead of our full launch in February.”