Food Awards

If a tyre company can make a big name for itself sponsoring restaurant awards, then why not an accountancy firm sponsoring aspiring food businesses?

Accountants Garbutt + Elliott launched their first awards in 2018. Today they have announced the shortlist for this year’s ‘entrepreneurial food businesses’.  The judging panel includes the respected York food blogger York on a Fork and Yorkshire chef Stephanie Moon.

Winners will be announced on 7th March at a do at York’s Castle Museum. The shortlist has some cracking local businesses, many I had never come across. Here’s the shortlist:

One of the judges, chef Stephanie Moon

Best Innovation – sponsored by SIAFS

The Yorkshire Pudding Pie Company


Dine Delivered

Scotts Fish and Chips

‘Deliciouslyorkshire’ Taste Award – sponsored by Deliciouslyorkshire

Savoury Taste

Nukkad Indian Street Food

Yorkshire Born Yorkshire Fed

Wild Greens Farm

Chef Akila

Sweet Taste

Cedar Barn farm Shop and Cafe

Freaks of Nature


Hotham’s Gin School and Distillery

York Gin

Growth Business of the Year  sponsored by Urban Market

Cedar Barn farm Shop and Cafe

Minskip Farm Shop

Best Partnership  sponsored by the Yorkshire Food Guide

Birds On The Loose

Breckenholme Trading Company and Staal Smokehouse

York Gin and York Cocoa House

Young Business of the Year  sponsored by Made In Yorkshire

Fitch Brew Co Ltd

Kinoko Kombucha

York Gin

Cooper King

Leeds Cookery School

Best Yorkshire Exporter – sponsored by Department for International Trade

North Bar Ltd

Warrendale Farms

Best Yorkshire Brand – sponsored by Rollits

Hesper Skyr

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

York Gin


North Brewing

Binghams Food Ltd

Yorkshire Grit: Resilience Award

Bramhope Village Bakery

Mak Tok Ltd

Atom Beers



Chef Shaun Rankin heads to North Yorkshire

Shaun Rankin has been named executive chef at the new Grantley Hall Country House Hotel near Ripon. Quite a coup for owner Valeria Sykes who bought the neglected Palladian mansion in 2015 with a view to turning it into the best country house hotel in the north of England.


Having spent a large fortune on it – some £70 million, Grantley Hall will open in the spring with 47 bedrooms, four restaurants and a spa set to outdo all other spas. Why settle for a gym and a pool when you can have a snow room, an underwater treadmill, a cryotherapy chamber and a 3D body scanner.





Food and drink will be provided by three bars and four restaurants: Eighty Eight, the ‘playfully innovative’ Asian restaurant. Fletchers for casual dining, healthy eating in the spa and  ‘Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall’.


Shaun Rankin in case you’ve forgotten, was born in County Durham, brought up in Yorkshire and while he’s spent the majority of his career at Ormer in Jersey winning a Michelin star in 2017, he did have a stint at the Black Bull at Moulton in the early 90’s and is currently executive chef at Ormer in Mayfair’s Flemings Hotel, making guest appearances on Masterchef, Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen.


His role at Grantley is as ‘chef consultant’ which by my understanding means he will establish the character, create the menus and supervise a team though day to day cooking will be by a head chef yet to be named with Rankin flitting between North Yorks and Mayfair.


As for what’s cooking, they’ve quoted the usual stuff about regional and seasonal. They’ve announced the creation of a kitchen garden and beehives, both de rigeurfor any high dining restaurant and they’ve announced a signature dish of rhubarb crumble soufflé with rosehip and iced clotted cream but nothing more. With a reputation to uphold and room rate starting at £350 a night rising to £5000 for the Presidential Suite, it’s a fair bet that portions will be small, exquisite and tweezered. We’ll be reporting back when it opens.

York Named a Foodie Hot Spot

In its list of best towns for foodies, the new 2019 Harden’s food guide names York as ‘the new foodie hot spot’ Editor Peter Harden says:

“During Harden’s 28 years of reviewing, York has hitherto been one of those charming British cities with inspiring medieval architecture, but, by contrast, a middle-of-the-road selection of pubs, tea-shops and bistros. But in the last year or two, the city has shot to prominence as a foodie-magnet, with an assortment of Shoreditch-worthy arrivals in recent times such as Arras, Le Cochon Aveugle, Skosh and the yet-to-be-rated Roots.”


Hah good to know we’re ‘Shoreditch-worthy’, though we’ve known York as an excellent food city for a long time. We’d add to that list Partisan, Rattle Owl and my most recent discovery, the Bow Room at Gray’s Court (review to follow) and for daytime eating there are countless places to choose but a special mention for Mannion & Co, Robinson’s and Brew and Brownie. 




Chefs on the Move

If you need to know just how difficult it is to run a restaurant talk to James and Tommy Banks, the two brothers behind the much feted Black Swan at Oldstead. James remembers that despite earning a Michelin they found it difficult to fill this out-of-the-way restaurant on a quiet Wednesday in November. They were on the brink of closure when Tommy took part in the Great British Menu. It meant the Black Swan could reach a wider audience and from then on the phone never stopped ringing. They were, and still are, fully booked every night. TV helped make a success of the Black Swan and led them to open a second location, Roots in York, which was booked out even before it opened.

Tommy Banks of the Black Swan at Oldstead and Roots, York

Things have been less happy for others. Rascills, where chef Richard Johns cooks like a dream but couldn’t get enough punters through the door at the restaurant he runs with his wife Lyndsey at Raskelf and has announced their closure at the end of the year. With plenty to choose from in York, diners have less inclination to travel the 15 miles to Raskelf.


Rascills will be there until Christmas, so we urge you to make a visit for dinner or for one of the best Sunday lunches in the county served on the last Sunday of every month.


Another distinguished restaurant Alimentum in Cambridge closed earlier this month, though happily for us in Yorkshire, head chef Samir Effa has been signed up by Simon Gueller at the Box Tree, presumably with the job of regaining the Michelin star it lost this year after holding it for 14 years.


When Andrew Pern, chef/patron of the Star Inn at Harome lost his Michelin star a few years back, he recalled how he got back in the kitchen and between him and his head chef Steve Smith, they covered every single shift for the next three years until they’d won back that star.


Good news then that having taken a back seat for the last few years, Simon Gueller has reported that he will be back in the kitchen invigorating the Box Tree. We wish all these hardworking chefs well.

Michelin Drops the famous Box Tree

The surprise news when the 2019 Michelin stars were announced a couple of weeks ago was that the Box Tree in Ilkley had lost its star. We’ve written before about Michelin’s curious star system and how we are often baffled by those honoured and those serving comparable food that miss out year after year.  I’m thinking Skosh and Cochon Aveugle in York, Home in Leeds and the Hare at Scawton.

Simon and Rena Gueller with friend Marco Pierre White

It’s been a while since I visited the Box Tree so can’t comment whether the demotion by Michelin was justified but I would only say that in the new 2019 Good Food Guide, (IMHO a much more accurate and readable judge of British restaurant food), the Box Tree scored an estimable 6  which translates as ‘exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement’.

We have long been supporters of Simon and Rena Gueller from their early days in a little bistro in Harrogate then Leeds and later bringing much needed order out of the chaos that was the Box Tree in the late 90’s. I’m also ever grateful that they came to our house just days after Christmas when everyone else was closed, to cook a fabulous spread for our wedding.

If you care about these things and, of course, for chefs it is the ultimate accolade, and want to tick off the Michelin stars in Yorkshire and nearby here is the list of M. starred restaurants:

The Star Inn at Harome; The Man Behind the Curtain, Leeds; The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton;  The Yorke Arms at Ramsgill; The Black Swan at Oldstead.

Among our near neighbours a star was awarded to Winteringham Fields, a second star for Moor Hall at Ormskirk and for the Raby Hunt near Darlington, a star for Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume outpost Rogan & Co in Cartmel and a new star for the White Swan at Fence.

There you have it. No more nail biting till next October.

Ampleforth’s Unique Orchard

For a brief few weeks in spring it’s quite a sight, 2,500 apple trees all in bloom. The Ampleforth Orchard is unique. Planted some 120 years ago by the monks of the Benedictine Order who worship and teach at the famous Ampleforth Abbey and College the orchard has been a precious part of the estate for some 120 years.

It’s not only the size of the orchard but its diversity that makes it special. There are 80 different apple varieties, a heritage collection with evocative names like St Edmund’s Pippin, Belle de Boskoop, Ashmead’s Kernel, Beauty of Bath, Blenheim Orange, and Yorkshire’s own Ribston Pippin, first grown at Ribston Hall near Knaresborough

At first the apples were grown for the table but 40 tons worth of apples every year far exceeds the school’s needs for apple crumble and the fruit bowl. Tim Saxby the Orchard Manager and self-confessed ‘apple nut’ reckoned the only way was to begin juicing and today they press apples for excellent and distinctive single variety apple juices and artisan cider.

Harvesting begins in August and with successive ripening runs through until mid-November. It’s quite a sight in autumn with the trees heavy with fruit, not organic but unsprayed because fruit for pressing doesn’t have to look perfect explains Tim. ‘We grow for flavour.’

At a time when thousands of acres of English orchards have been grubbed up, and our supermarket apple varieties are limited to a handful of varieties and too often foreign imports we should treasure Ampleforth’s very special orchard and enjoy its produce.

Apple juice and cider is for sale at the Ampleforth  gift shop, the Cider Mill  or online

There are tours of the orchard that can be combined with lunch or afternoon tea at the Ampleforth tea room.

T: 01439 766000

And if you want to plant your own tree, the excellent R.V. Roger, just outside Pickering on the Malton road, is a specialist tree nursery with 240 apple varieties who are well placed to advise on what to grow where.



Food and Drink on the North York Moors

Mandy and I have been busy over the summer working on an exciting food and drink project with the North York Moors National Park. We will tell you more about it in the coming weeks, in the meantime take a look at this short film about places to eat and drink in the National Park.





You can find out more on the National Park website.

Friends of Ham, Chopping Block and Roots

It’s sad that we’re too often writing about restaurant closures, the latest and most surprising being Friends of Ham in Leeds and Ilkley.

According to this report in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, the two satellites – Ham and Friends in Queen’s Arcade and the Friends of Ham branch in Ilkley found it hard to get established and the original branch in Leeds’ New Station Street has suffered from a short term cash flow during this hot summer weather with no outdoor seating.

A local property and investment company Glentrool have stepped in to purchase Friends of Ham and plan to work with the creators of the business Anthony and Claire Kitching, so with any luck we will still be able to enjoy their craft beers, good ham and cheeses in the New Station Street location.

It’s good to be able to report two new openings in York which is fast becoming a hub for independents.

Michael Hjort, chef/patron of Melton’s of York’s and director of York Food Festival is to open The Chopping Block above Walmgate Ale House.  The space above the bar has been run as a bistro for a few years but Michael says “now is the time to up our game here and run a quality led informal restaurant.”

‘The Chopping Block he says will serve diverse modern food like aubergine stuffed with lamb and pomegranate, game burgers with roast venison and sea bream with Yorkshire cider, samphire and summer vegetables’.

Close on the heels of the Chopping Block but in Marygate on the other side of town is Roots, a second restaurant for the famed and Michelin starred Black Swan at Oldstead. Promising a changing seasonal menu of sharing plates that open with such modish dishes as cured trout, fennel kimchi and Meridian apple and ox cheek, cauliflower and kale. Skosh watch out.

The booking site opened a week ago and lines were jammed. Roots opens on 14 September. If you can’t get a table we will post our report. It’s what we’re here for!

Goodbye El Piano, Hello Los Moros

It’s goodbye at the end of August to the long standing El Piano on Grape Lane after 21 years of upholding the values of vegan and vegetarianism and hello Los Moros, the Moroccan and Middle Eastern street food stall that has been trading from York’s Shambles Market for the last three years and who will be moving into the Grape Lane premises in the autumn.

Tarik Abdeladim at his Los Moros stall at Shambles Market, York

El Piano was founded in 1997 by Magdalena Chavez ‘We are moving on’ she says ‘Our job is done. Twenty one years of blazing the vegan and gluten-free trail has led us all to the happy point where almost all eateries in York are now offering vegan and gluten-free options’.

And to her customers Magda says: ‘It has been our absolute pleasure to serve you all these years and we thank you for your loyalty and support. You will still be able to find us and our products, recipes, videos and books at”

Los Moros owner Tarik Abdeladim is a worthy successor and while Los Moros will not be wholly vegetarian, Tarik plans to uphold the principles of El Piano with ‘tasty vegan and vegetarian dishes. One of our most popular dishes on the stall is our vegan falafel’.

‘We’re describing the restaurant as a modern North African kitchen’ says Tarik. ‘We’ll be serving some favourites from the kiosk, like our handmade merguez sausages, but using the restaurant as a space to develop the food in new directions, and play with different techniques and ingredients’.

Los Moros will be open for lunch and dinner from the autumn at 15-17 Grape Lane.

Roots Opening in York

Over the last few months I’ve watched teams of builders and decorators turn the unloved Bay Horse pub on Marygate, York into Roots, the much anticipated second restaurant for the Banks family, where Tommy Banks began and helped turn it into the top rated, Michelin starred Black Swan at Oldstead.


Don’t expect a clone of the Black Swan, Roots they say is going to be ‘a sharing plate restaurant’ on the theme of Tommy’s recently published book of the same name in which the menus are based on three (not four) seasons: the Hunger Gap running from winter into spring; Abundance summer into autumn and Preserving from autumn to winter.


The first published menu: The Preserving Season lists what sound like 14 cutting edge dishes with smoked eel doughnut; pork fat carrots and garden pea falafel and hear this: turbot, strawberries and cream. Good to see Courtyard Dairy supplying the cheese and interesting sounding desserts featuring Douglas fir, lemon verbena and woodruff. Choose individual plates or their Feast Menu at £50 a head. There’s sure to be a rush when the online booking opens on 1st August for the official opening mid September.

Roots, 68 Marygate, York YO24 1AZ

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