Top chefs invade the Devonshire Arms

If you want to sample dishes prepared by the best Yorkshire chefs then you need to book a place at the Devonshire Arms (Bolton Abbey) Food and Wine Week which begins on Monday.

Mandy and I were invited last year for a cook-off lunch between the Dev’s chef Adam Smith and the Box Tree’s Lawrence Yates and it was terrific.


Adam Smith, head chef of the Devonshire Arms

This year it kicks off with a dinner cooked by what is arguably Yorkshire’s top five chefs: Adam Smith (Devonshire Arms), Andrew Pern (Star at Harome), James Mackenzie (Pipe & Glass), Tim Bilton (Spiced Pear) and Stephanie Moon (Rudding Park).

On Tuesday it will be a War of the Roses lunch pitching Nigel Haworth from Northcote Manor in Lancashire, (who has his own food festival coming up) against Adam Smith.

If you’ve never been to the famous L’Enclume in Cartmel, Thursday is a chance to sample some of head chef Mark Birchall’s remarkable food.

The food and wine week closes on Sunday 7th December with an evening of wines from Joe Fattorini of Bibendum Wines and a tasting menu prepared by Adam Smith. Prices range from £30 to £95.

For more information go to

To book: or T: 01756 718155


Cooks at Carlton Towers

CarltonTea‘Not a Cookery School’, Development Director Elaine Lemm, corrects me: ‘It’s a School of Food’ – the difference being that the courses at Carlton Towers offer far more than cookery lessons. The website explains: ‘Grow, cook, photograph or write about food. Come to bake, butcher, forage, preserve, get back to basics, hone your skills.’

Carlton Towers, if you don’t know it, is the ancestral pile of the Duke of Norfolk. It’s in Carlton, a village between Selby and Goole, and the Gothic palace and its turrets, gargoyles, battlements and clock tower, half English boarding school, half grand country house, is the place the Duke’s brother Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard and his wife Emma, call home.

Inside it’s just as imposing with yards of ecclesiastical paneling and stained glass, gilded walls and chandeliers. The upstairs is largely given over to weddings, shooting parties and corporate events but you can stay in one of the 16 bedrooms, beautifully designed and furnished by Lady Gerald herself.

Twelve months or so ago Lord and Lady G decided to take downstairs in hand and turned the old kitchen, scullery, dairy and butler’s pantry into a cookery school, sorry School of Food, and they’ve done a cracking job.

Elaine Lemm, Development Director plans the courses, Richard Walton Allen, ex head chef at Harvey Nichols in Leeds, is course tutor. Together they have put together a series of one day courses: Fiona Sciolti is guest chocolate tutor, Josh Sutton the self-styled Guyrope Gourmet is offering campfire cooking, there’s upmarket barbecuing with Andy Annat and bacon and sausage making with David Lishman of Lishman’s of Ilkley.

My day at Cooks was an afternoon tea master class with Adam Smith, the head chef of the Burlington restaurant at Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey and before that at the Ritz in Piccadilly, where afternoon tea is an institution.

We baked scones, cakes and macaroons and took our breaks in the housekeeper’s sitting room – very English country house with sofas and side tables and a well stocked drinks cupboard. You could easily be tempted to kick off your shoes and settle in with coffee, cake and Mrs Beeton.

But manager Nicola Shann shoos us back to the kitchen and at the end of the day we get to scoff all we have cooked in the genteel surroundings of the ‘Duchesses dining room’, a formal dining room where once upon a time the young Lord Gerald remembers sitting down to tea with his grandparents, the Duke and Duchess.

This of course is the USP of Yorkshire’s newest cookery school. An upstairs/downstairs experience.  Compared to all the curlicues upstairs,  downstairs is boarding school spare. Wide doorways, stone flagged corridors, the cool dairy and the spacious kitchen where they have cleverly (and expensively) combined old and new. State of the art equipment sits alongside mighty cast iron ranges, old shelves house copper pans and antique jelly moulds. Teaching takes place around a huge central island complete with a ‘listed’ pillar through the centre.

Yorkshire has any number of cookery schools, Bettys, Malton, the York Cookery School, the Cooking School at Dean Clough, Swinton Park, Yorkshire Wolds and more. Cooks is a first-rate addition to that list and promises to offer something more. The current list of courses goes up to September so the ‘more than cookery lessons’ is still in development, but watch this space.  Until then, it’s a fine place to work and learn with exemplary objectives; after all, where else can you cook like the servants and dine like a duchess.

Cooks at Carlton Towers, Carlton, Yorkshire DN14 9LZ
T: 01405 861662 W:
Price: Full day tuition with lunch £170. Single or double room with breakfast £95/£125

Hot Chefs Head to Head

We were well and truly cosseted last week at the Devonshire Food Festival, a week long extravaganza showcasing the work of the best chefs in the region and beyond.

Chocolate hedgehogDevonshire here means the Devonshire Arms Hotel at Bolton Abbey where the new, young executive chef of the Burlington Restaurant, Adam Smith – just four months in post – was well and truly in at the deep end, cooking and overseeing lunch and dinner by a series of visiting guest chefs over the seven days of the Festival.

If he was on his knees he wasn’t showing it on our visit which was a light-hearted competition between Smith and his potential arch rival six miles down the road at Ilkley’s Box Tree, Lawrence Yates another young ‘un who by coincidence was also just four months into the job.

Over champagne in the lounge, we were asked to choose from two menus, A & B without knowing who was cooking what.

It was a tough call so Mandy and I did the obvious and chose a menu each. Do we need to tell you they were both brilliant? Refined, labour intensive but beautifully matched so that each flavour was allowed to sing.

My highlight was a starter of langoustine and suckling pig served with a rich shellfish bisque; Mandy’s was her peach soufflé, sweet and light as air with a little jug of peach sauce that you add more or less to take down the sweetness so it’s just to your liking. Clever.


Menu A

Sauté Langoustine
suckling pig and spiced garden apple
Ruinart Blanc de Blanc

Peppered Venison
chestnut, pear and celeriac
Springfontein Ulumbaza Shiraz, Walker Bay, South Africa

Milk Chocolate Hedgehog
tonka bean and hazelnut
Nicholis Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico, Italy


Both menus were text-book in execution. Menu A was the prettier, more delicate and had more elements on the plate. Menu B was more substantial, seemingly simpler but with flavours and textures that married perfectly.


Menu B

Seared Scottish Scallops
roasted pumpkin seeds and paste
Il Feudiccio, Pecorina, Colline Teatine, Italy

Fillet of Grass Fed Beef
Braised cheek and bone marrow, shallot marmalade, red wine sauce
Rockford Basket Press, Shiraz, Barossa Valley

Ruby Peach Souffle
almond ice cream
Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec


Box Tree BeefAnd the winner? Menu B, by Lawrence Yates from the Box Tree but only by a whisker (and not we trust by any vote rigging from the Box Tree table!) And it turns out the chefs are not rivals after all, but two enthusiastic young chefs loving their new jobs and crazy for all the fine Yorkshire produce on their doorstep.

If you missed the Festival this year, put a note in your diary for mid November 2014 or splash out and catch these keen young chefs on the rise.




Devonshire Food Festival

Food festivals are two a penny these days with regulation food stalls, cookery demos, you know the score, but the Devonshire Arms Food Festival promises to be a bit different.

Every day for a week, between 18-24 November top regional and national chefs will be preparing lunch and dinner.  At lunchtime it will be in the form of a lighthearted competitive

Devonshire Arms Hotel, Bolton Abbey

Devonshire Arms Hotel, Bolton Abbey

cook-off – two chefs head to head (£39) over the best lunch.  In the evening it ramps up a bit with a sophisticated six course dinner (£59) prepared by a guest chef.

It’s an impressive line-up from Yorkshire and beyond: Rakesh Ravindran from London’s Cinnamon Club; Matthew Tomkinson of the Michelin-starred Montagu Arms in the New Forest; Mark Poynton from Alimentum, another Michelin-starred restaurant in Cambridge. Then there are three Yorkshire chefs Oliver Adams from the Devonshire Fell; James Mackenzie from the Pipe & Glass and Simon Crannage from Swinton Park.

Adam Smith, head chef at the Burlington, Bolton Abbey

Adam Smith, head chef at the Burlington, Bolton Abbey

The host, naturally, is the Dev’s new young chef Adam Smith who will be competing on Thursday, showcasing on the Saturday night dinner and preparing a fancy-pants afternoon tea (he is ex-Ritz after all) on Sunday.

We’ll be there on Thursday voting in the lunchtime friendly between Adam Smith and another new chef, Lawrence Yates of the Box Tree.

We’ll report back on the winner and, of course, the food.

Devonshire Food Festival, 14-18 November. Devonshire Arms Hotel, Bolton Abbey. To book your place: 01756 710441


Chefs on the Move

Jeff Baker

Jeff Baker

No sooner have we reported on the closure of Create followed by Anthony’s in Leeds than we have to announce the demise of J. Baker’s in York. He cooked for a wedding reception and then closed the doors for good.
What a shame. We’ve always rated Jeff Baker who arrived in York in 2006 after a Michelin star-studded career at Leeds’ Pool Court. His modern, exuberant cooking brought a breath of fresh air to York. We hope he will be back at the stove somewhere in the county very soon.
It’s certainly all change just now. Ex-Harvey Nichols and Create chef Richard Walton-Allen has been signed up by the polished outside catering outfit Dine Consultancy. His short-lived replacement at Harvey Nix Paul Cunliffe has moved on, too, to open a newly refurbed pub, The Dunsforth at Lower Dunsforth in North Yorkshire.
Another brave start-up is Michelin-starred Adam Jackson who has departed the Black Swan at Oldstead for what he describes as a fine dining restaurant, The Park at Sutton Park at Sutton on the Forest, the pile owned by Samantha Cameron’s family.
Elsewhere, Dan Birk leaves the Box Tree to join Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House in Soho though it remains in safe hands under owner  Simon Gueller, while young Adam Smith moves into position at the Burlington Restaurant at the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey.  The fancy hotel and spa at Raithwaite Hall, Sandsend have appointed Martin Pick (one time partner with his brother Chris of Armstrong’s, Barnsley) as temporary head chef following the departure of head chef Darren Iddon to Queens Quay Social in Derry/Londonderry. The permanent chef Mark Johnson starts in October. He trained at Bradford and Ilkley College and has worked at the Connaught, the Ritz and Chelsea’s Sloane Club.
Finally we hear that following the closure of Kitchen in the Alea Casino in Leeds, TV celeb James Martin is renewing his links with the casino owners to open in the Manchester 235 Casino. He remains executive chef of the Talbot Hotel in Malton.


New Chef for Devonshire Arms

Adam SmithAs we reported a couple of weeks ago, Steve Smith has departed the Devonshire Arms’ Burlington Restaurant at Bolton Abbey for Bohemia on Jersey and the search has been on for his replacement. News is they’ve appointed Adam Smith, an aspiring young chef from the Ritz.

Only 25 years old, Smith has had an astonishing trajectory. Eight years ago he was washing pots in a Birmingham pub; last year he won a Roux Scholarship and was named Observer Young Chef of the Year followed by a three month stage at the three star Le Meurice in Paris.

Announcing the appointment of Smith to the Burlington Restaurant, General Manager Andrew Mackay said: ‘This is a great opportunity both for us and for Adam. Rather than bring in someone who has already made his mark with Michelin stars who would be doing just more of the same, we wanted to take the chance to support a rising star where he can make our restaurant his own and give it his personality.’

It’s good they’re supporting ‘a rising star’, but I can’t help thinking the management will still have their eyes  on a Michelin. We look forward to see what this Smith can do. He arrives in July.

Steve Smith on the Move

Back in 2008 I interviewed chef Steve Smith, on his appointment as executive chef at the swanky Burlington  Restaurant at the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey.  The restaurant had just lost its Michelin star when the previous chef Michael Wignall moved on.

Michelin stars are awarded to chefs not to restaurants, so when a chef leaves, the star goes with him. Within months, Smith had earned back the star for the Burlington and made his bosses very happy.

Now Smith is off, to the very rarified Bohemia in Jersey. The Burlington have yet to announce his replacement. There was nothing on their website nor at yesterday’s Yorkshire Evening Post’s Oliver Awards when the Burlington won Best Hotel Restaurant. When we hear, we’ll let you know, so watch this space.

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