There were no such celebrations this year when chef Shaun Rankin heard he’d been awarded a star for the newly opened Grantley Hall near Ripon.
He was on a ferry on his way home to Jersey. “It was great news but I was on my own and when I got home, I had to quarantine for ten days. I did open a bottle of wine, though.”
Grantley Hall, near Ripon is the Palladian mansion that opened in 2019 as a 47-bedroom hotel following a lavish restoration by owner Valeria Sykes at a reported cost of £70m. Yorkshire born Shaun Rankin (ex Black Bull at Moulton and Ormer in Jersey and London) was a significant signing.
He already had stars to his name when Valeria commissioned him to design Grantley’s three restaurants and to head up the flagship, ‘Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall’.
As you might expect, the 10 course, £110 Taste of Home menu, (as reviewed by this newspaper in August 2019) served in the sumptuous dining room is precise, elegant, sophisticated. “Combinations, texture and taste are behind all the dishes,” explains Shaun. “It’s ingredients led whether it’s reared, caught, foraged or grown. Apart from Scottish seafood we source everything within a 30-mile radius.”
Taste of Home, he says, is about nostalgia for the food of his childhood. A tomato from his grandad’s greenhouse, sprinkled with salt, hot Bovril on a cold day and bread spread with beef dripping. With masterful understatement he adds, it’s then “taken to a different level.”
What’s the first dish you remember cooking? Yorkshire puddings at home with my mum when I was about nine or 10 years old.
Who has been your inspiration? My mum, she was a great cook. When I left home though I’d no idea what a globe artichoke was. Later Thomas Keller, the three-star chef of the French Laundry in California, and the late Charlie Trotter in Chicago. He had a passion for ingredients.
What books have inspired you? Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking and Mediterranean Cooking.
Where do you go to eat out? The Blue Lion at East Witton; it’s a really good pub with a lovely atmosphere, or the Magpie in Whitby. I also love the salt and pepper spare ribs at the Royal Baths Chinese in Harrogate.
What do you eat at home? I cook homely food from scratch, maybe a Bolognese in the oven for three-and-a-half hours and roast dinners. And I do really like a club sandwich. I love wine, too.
How have you coped with lockdown? It’s been a difficult ride. The hardest thing has been the lack of consistency; opening and then closing again. The staff become dejected and uninspired. I feel sorry for them.
How has this year been for Grantley Hall? Before the pandemic the hotel and the restaurant were
full. It felt as if there was a lot of opportunity to evolve new dishes, to use new season ingredients like asparagus or fresh peas, to forage and to harvest, but we never even managed a full year. We haven’t been given a chance yet to show what we can do.
Does the Michelin star mean additional pressure for you? There’s always a pressure both to have it and to keep it. But it’s a benchmark for where we are and it sets us up to aim for a second star.