At a time when London hogs the nation’s wealth and luxuries, it is a relief to see laurels awarded to other parts of the country.
TripAdvisor, the biggest travel and restaurant review site in the world, has awarded this year’s world’s best fine dining title to the Black Swan in North Yorkshire.
The restaurant, an old drovers’ inn, is in the village of Oldstead on the edge of the moors. The 2001 census records the population of the village as just 68. The isolated location makes its success an even greater accomplishment, although the area is home to gastronomic competitors such as the Hare Inn in Scawton and the Cocoa Tree in Helmsley.
The family has farmed in the area for generations, and chef Tommy Banks says his mind “was full of amazing vegetables, beautiful fruits and fragrant herbs” when he started. Much of the produce is home-grown, local, and even foraged.
There is a definite impression that the family feel farmers first and restaurateurs second. The restaurant’s website proudly displays a photograph of the family lovingly clutching their brussels sprouts. They have terraced the surrounding land, imported tons of topsoil, and even grow their own apricots, peaches and citrus fruit in poly-tunnels.
Behind the scenes, the family have also gone to great lengths to power their professional kitchen equipment. The rural location meant there was no three-phase electricity available from the grid to power some of the catering equipment they wanted, so they installed their own generator. Waste heat from this provides virtually free and environmentally-friendly heating for their poly-tunn
For any catering establishment with a strong focus on home-grown and local produce, refrigeration facilities must be top-notch, extending freshness as far beyond the growing season as possible. Double solid door gastronorm fridges and freezers make life easier for busy chefs by allowing large quantities of produce to be inserted directly in matching pans.
Keeping a range of savouries and desserts stored temporarily in a counter display fridge or heated serve-over counter is also an option. These can be purchased from catering equipment and commercial refrigeration specialists such as https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/serve-over-counters.
The Black Swan restaurant has four AA rosettes and a Michelin star; in addition, chef Tommy won the fish course on The Great British Menu in both 2016 and 2017.