Restaurants play key role in boosting tourism

They have carved out a reputation for their culinary skills which have garnered a reputation for North Yorkshire’s restaurants that have attracted diners from across the world.

And some of the county’s most recognisable chefs have spoken of the importance of North Yorkshire’s hospitality sector in ensuring that the vital visitor economy can continue to flourish.

Among the leading chefs are Andrew Pern and Tommy Banks who both have Michelin stars to their name and their establishments are among those helping to boost the region’s £1.5 billion visitor economy.

Andrew runs The Star Inn at Harome, while Tommy is behind The Black Swan at Oldstead. Both also have business interests in York. Andrew also oversees The Star Inn the City in York and Tommy runs Roots York.

The hospitality sector is seen as a key element of a new initiative aimed at enticing more visitors to the county.

In November, it was announced that a joint bid for a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) for both York and North Yorkshire had been approved.

Local Visitor Economy Partnerships have been introduced as part of the Government’s response to an independent review of how the nation’s visitor economy is co-ordinated and promoted and have the potential to draw in additional support and funding from Westminster.

A destination management plan has now been drawn up providing the first countywide approach to promoting the visitor economy following the launch of North Yorkshire Council.

In a boost for the partnership, the Good Food Guide recently declared Helmsley and the Howardian Hills as the ‘Most Exciting Food Destination’ for 2024.

Stephen Smith and Andrew Pern

Stephen Smith and Andrew Pern

The area is located between the Yorkshire Wolds, the North York Moors National Park, and the Vale of York.

Organisers spoke glowingly of local restaurants, each “different and distinctive yet reflecting the commitment and enthusiasm of the people who run them”.

The Star Inn at Harome, Pignut at Helmsley and Myse in Hovingham were among the venues singled out for praise by the Good Food Guide judges.

Andrew spoke of his pride at being involved in the burgeoning hospitality sector in North Yorkshire and highlighted how important it is to the county’s economy.

His career spans more than 35 years, and after attending Scarborough College, he worked in France and at a hotel in Rosedale Abbey before he took on the 14th century thatched pub, The Star Inn at Harome, in 1996.

Andrew said: “Having so many exceptional pubs, restaurants and all-round eateries in our area is great for our local economy.

“One Michelin-starred restaurant might be worth a day out, but three is worthy of a few nights away, with time to visit attractions such as Castle Howard or Rievaulx Abbey, for example.

“Visitors from outside the area bring in money that allows us to employ people from the area, support suppliers and use local tradespeople in this lovely part of the world."

Data from North Yorkshire Council has shown that visitors on day trips to the county are likely to spend an average of £66 while eating and drinking out. This is in comparison to other expenses such as travel at £44 on average or shopping for gifts and souvenirs at £46.

Research has also shown that the most popular activities with people who stayed overnight in North Yorkshire was drinking or eating out in pubs and restaurants with 37 per cent stating they had enjoyed the county’s famous hospitality.

Tommy, who accepted the Good Food Guide award along with Howardian Hills National Landscape manager, Ellie Hook, was born in the North Yorkshire village of Oldstead where he grew up with his brother James and their parents, Anne and Tom.

Chef Stephen Smith in his kitchen

Stephen Smith, Chef director at The Star Inn at Harome.

His family, which has a long history of farming in the area, took over the village pub, The Black Swan, in 2006, where he began working in the kitchen.

He took over as head chef in 2013, the year after the pub gained its first Michelin star, and he has now become a regular on television cookery shows, taking part in the BBC’s Great British Menu in 2016, and has since appeared as a veteran judge on the programme.

In 2018, his debut cookbook, Roots, was published and was the UK winner in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Tommy's lifelong love of cricket has also seen him become a resident chef at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, organising 'The Home of Food' ultimate food festival in 2023, which showcased a line-up of all-star chefs cooking at street food pop-ups around the famous sporting venue.

He said: “I have always been very proud that people come from all over the world to visit our beautiful pocket of North Yorkshire.His family, which has a long history of farming in the area, took over the village pub, The Black Swan, in 2006, where he began working in the kitchen.

“In recent times the food scene has really evolved and now you are spoilt for choice for great award-winning pubs and restaurants in the area.”

Speaking about the award, the member for the Helmsley and Sinnington division and vice-chair of the Howardian Hills National Landscape Joint Advisory Committee, Cllr George Jabbour, paid tribute to the work of the county’s hospitality trade.

He added: “This is a real coup for the area and further enhances our reputation as not only one of the friendliest places to visit, but also one of the best when it comes to the food on offer at our restaurants.

“In addition to our fantastic landscapes and vistas, eating locally sourced produce in beautiful surroundings makes the county an enticing destination for people from across the country and further afield and is why we should rightly champion them as a local authority.”