Chef profile - Ben Cox from the Star at Sancton

When Ben Cox and his wife Lindsey saw the Star for sale back in 2003, it was a grubby roadside boozer, complete with sticky carpets and brown walls.

Ben is looking forward to reopening the doors of the Star. (Picture: Neil Holmes).
Ben is looking forward to reopening the doors of the Star. (Picture: Neil Holmes).

It soon looked spick and span and they’ve since grown a successful business in what is now an elegant, comfortable dining pub, serving carefully crafted traditional dishes “using the best ingredients we can find, but with a bit of a twist”.

Ben’s braised oxtail with crispy sage and Yorkshire pudding is perhaps his signature dish – he has twice been Yorkshire pudding champion – and I can attest to its melt-in-the-mouth magnificence. He champions local produce and on his menus you’ll find the likes of Staal’s smoked duck, Yorkshire Blue Cheese rarebit and beef steak and Wold Top ale pie.

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Born in Market Weighton, Ben went to catering college in Hull from school and then to Tickton Grange Hotel under the tutelage of acclaimed chef David Nowell. He spent five years there and it’s where he met Lindsey. “We knew we wanted to work together and run our own business, so we started looking and found the Star”.

Ben's food is all about crafted traditional dishes “using the best ingredients we can find, but with a bit of a twist”. (Picture: Neil Holmes).

They’re always moving forward – five luxury rooms will be opening spring 2022 and there are plans for a couple of holiday cottages a bit further down the line.

What’s the first thing you remember cooking? Growing up I was the chief potato basher in our house. Homely meat dishes were my favourite things to cook – I still remember and love the smell of slow cooked liver and onions.

Who is your culinary inspiration? I have always been influenced by the mentors that I have worked with but was inspired by Marco Pierre White’s approach to cooking in the 90s; what he plated was pure genius.

Do you use cookery books? I very rarely do. I used to use them a long time ago and got into the habit of buying lots of them. They make good reference points and when I do use them, they jog my memory.

Who is around your dream dinner party table? My dinner party would have to have plenty of laughs and lots of wine with a little banter thrown in for good measure. It would have to be Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix – what a great combo.

What piece of kit could you not live without? My trusted Robot Coupe – it was gifted to me 20 years ago when I left my job to fly solo. But I would be absolutely lost without my box of “collected and perfected” recipes of my 25 years plus as a chef. I now have them nicely written up on cards in a box.

What’s your guilty food pleasure? I don’t really have a guilty pleasure, but I do have a real sweet tooth for a good “large” bar of chocolate which gives me pleasure but then makes me feel guilty for eating it afterwards.

What’s the ingredient you reach for first in the kitchen? A good bottle of wine! I don’t drink and cook, but Lindsey will often bring a new bottle in and we’ll open it and have a tasting – then it goes into the food. Cheap wine is hopeless – if it’s too cheap to drink it’s not good enough to cook with. You can’t make a good dish out of poor ingredients.

How are you handling the current situation? Personally I have just tried to keep busy and have spent more time with my kids than I ever have. Business wise, it’s been a whirlwind of emotions. The Star is always so full of life, so seeing it empty for so long pulls on the old heartstrings a little.

However, to keep busy we thought we would make some of our famous pies for people to buy and cook at home. What started as just being a few has turned into thousands of pies, with people even coming from over the Humber Bridge, complete with their cool boxes, to collect very large orders.

We have even played around and created different flavours for people to try and then also supplied desserts. We are so grateful to the people who have supported us and for their kind, supportive words.

It’s made such a difference. Now we can’t wait to open those doors on Monday and welcome you all again.