Castle Howard's head chef Nathan Richardson-Kelly on why he loves living in the most exciting food destination in the UK

Ripponden-born and raised Nathan Richardson-Kelly is the head chef at Castle Howard. Nathan trained at the Star at Harome and Mannion & Co in York, before landing his new role. He lives with his wife Holly in Helmsley.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Nearly every weekend would be spent up at grandad’s farm, helping out in some way or other, and that included digging out drainage ditches, doing some drystone wall repairs, scrambling about under machinery and much much more. It certainly gave me a good, strong, work ethic.

What’s your favourite part of the county?

Castle Howard's head chef Nathan Richardson-KellyCastle Howard's head chef Nathan Richardson-Kelly
Castle Howard's head chef Nathan Richardson-Kelly

Holly and I really do love where we live now – in and around Helmsley. A short drive to work in the mornings, easy to get to the coast, or into the Dales.

What’s your idea of a perfect day out in Yorkshire?

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A great day for us would be to walk over to Blakey Ridge, and around Farndale, and maybe have a relaxed lunch at The Lion Inn. We’ve got a very energetic Cocker/Collie cross, called Buzz, and he loves a good long walk.

Do you have a favourite walk?

A view across the valley of Farndale situated heart of the North York Moors. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty.A view across the valley of Farndale situated heart of the North York Moors. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty.
A view across the valley of Farndale situated heart of the North York Moors. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer, James Hardisty.

A complete circuit of Duncombe Park, which is right on our doorstep, in through the gates, up past the house, over around to the cascades, it’s a joy to do. In some parts, you have to keep your dogs on a tight rein, but that’s just sensible countryside courtesy to the livestock.

Which Yorkshire sportsperson would you like to take for lunch?

Hannah Cockroft, the phenomenal wheelchair racer – a Halifax lass from my neck of the woods, so I think that we’d have a lot to talk about. She’s a truly remarkable and inspirational person, and this county should be rightly proud of her.

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Which Yorkshire stage or screen star would you like to take for dinner?

Sean Bean – a real “character,” who always seems to have a very naughty twinkle in his eye. A man who looks as if he’d far rather enjoy a few pints and a couple of pies, rather than a fine dining experience.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?

It’s up in Dalby Forest, a place where there are so many things to see and do, but the latest feature isn’t, as yet, quite completed – they are trying to build the world’s biggest stone maze, a structure where you’ll be able to celebrate the summer solstice, as well as marvel at the engineering of it.

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If you could own, or have access to, one thing in Yorkshire for a single day, what would that object or place be?

The North York Moors Railway – but not behind-scenes, trying to work out their current financial ups and downs, but up there on the footplate, riding the rails through all that glorious scenery from early dawn till well after dusk. I am a self-confessed steam addict, and this would be a day of sheer bliss for me.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

There’s one thing that has put this county on the map of international cuisine, and that the good old Yorkshire Pudding. I genuinely cannot think of anything else that compares with it. And it’s so simple, just three main ingredients, flour, eggs, milk. A pinch of salt. Make your batter, put it into the fridge to chill down, and then into really hot fat. A wonderful invention, and absolutely delicious.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

There are two – the first is The Old Bridge Inn at Ripponden, which has a blue plaque to tell you that it is alleged to be the oldest pub in the county, dating from 1307. A truly wonderful place, live folk bands, great ales, tiled floors and open fires. Then there’s the Star Inn, at Harome, which will always have a special place in my heart because I learned so much there, and where a lot of very happy memories were created. For me, a home from home.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

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Holly and I try to support as many markets and farmers’ outlets as we possibly can, because that’s where you’ll find exceptional value and good fresh food. And, when we get over to Skipton, a day there wouldn’t be complete without joining the queue at Stanforth’s Butchers. Their pork pies are some of the very best ever.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

The general pace of life is a lot faster, for sure, and the tourism market, with so many places to go and see and experience, continues to thrive. But cross county communications by rail are a joke, and there have been so many cuts to bus timetables that you really do wonder how many people manage to get anywhere at all. In towns like Helmsley, small shops have gone – and so have banks and the Post Office. And, if there is an ATM to hand, consider yourself lucky if it is still working. We need a lot more joined-up-thinking to revitalise our communities.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

My late grandfather, David Lawson, from Acomb, near York. A grafter, a family man who worked all his life. He was a roofer, a grass-roots Yorkshireman, who encouraged me, and mentored me all the way.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

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Totally. James Martin inspired me, and I must give a nod to the Hairy Bikers, who were also endlessly inventive. I can’t tell you how many cookbooks I have at home….mostly packed up, because our cottage is pretty small.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

There’s nearly always music on in the kitchens at Castle Howard, and invariably it’s Artic Monkeys, and Alex Turner. Music is very important in that environment, it keeps you both motivated, and moving.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

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It would be great to take the stranger around the grounds (and the house) at Castle Howard, and to show them where all our food is sourced, and where it comes from. And, after that, it’ll be a drive up to Whitby (for fish and chips) or to Robin Hood’s Bay, and a cliff top walk with plenty of fresh sea air. Invigorating – with a stop for a good beer somewhere en route.

Castle Howard’s Beef and Beer Dinner (May 17); Solstice and Fireside Feast (June 20); Venison and Gin Dinner (September 14);

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