Myse: Inside Yorkshire's newest Michelin-starred restaurant run by an award-winning chef

Just seven months after opening his restaurant, Mýse in Hovingham, Josh Overington became Yorkshire's newest Michelin-starred chef. Catherine Scott reports. Pictures by James Hardisty.

Josh Overington is one happy man. Just seven months after opening his fine dining restaurant, Mýse in a former pub in the North Yorkshire village of Hovingham, he has been awarded a coveted Michelin star. What makes the award even sweeter is that for nine years running the acclaimed Le Cochon Aveugle in York, it felt like he was being overlooked by Michelin.

He had been misquoted often as saying he wasn’t interested in getting a Michelin star. “If Michelin offered me a star, I would be made up and I wouldn’t be handing it back. But it isn’t the thing that drives me,” he told me in 2017. “That would be a mistake. It has to be about the food first and the experience we are giving to the diners. I can honestly say we are one of the best restaurants in Yorkshire, and we aim to be one of the best restaurants in England.” And although overjoyed at getting the recognition many believe he has deserved for a while, Overington’s mantra has not changed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Obviously getting the star is amazing not just for me but for everyone of the staff but it isn’t what drives me. When I opened Mýse [Anglo Saxon for eating at the table], I wanted it to be one of the best restaurants in the country – that’s what drives me every day.”

Joshua and Victoria Overington at Myse in HovinghamJoshua and Victoria Overington at Myse in Hovingham
Joshua and Victoria Overington at Myse in Hovingham

His decision to sell up two restaurants in York (he also had Cave du Cochon) surprised a lot of people. He and his wife, sommelier Vicky, successfully reopened after the pandemic but he realised quite quickly they had hit the glass ceiling “creatively and economically”, with just 14 covers and a tiny kitchen, but possibly more importantly, personally things had changed, “We had our daughter, Olivia, and it changed everything. The kitchen was so small there was no way I could employ a head chef, which meant that there was no way I could take time off to spend with my daughter – so I was stuck there. I started to dread going into work and that had never happened before.

“The business was really busy and the staff were great but I wanted to have a business that allowed me to have more freedom. We had been on the lookout for a brand new business when we saw the Hovingham Inn was on the market. It had the potential for rooms, which is really what we wanted. We fell in love with it – not just the place but Hovingham itself. The drive from York, where we live, to Hovingham past Castle Howard is magical.” He sat down with the owner and said he wanted to buy the property but he had two restaurants in York to sell first. “We shook hands and he gave me a year to come up with the money and we managed it.”

Making the decision to sell up was one thing, but telling customers and staff was another.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I was so ready but Vicky was more upset but she hadn’t been working full-time. The emotion when we told the guests was unbelievable, especially as my lips were sealed about what we were doing and they just thought I was stopping cooking. That was hard as was telling the staff. Some were upset, others were understandably angry, but I had to be selfish about it and do what was best for me and my family. But ultimately it would have happened eventually. Le Cochon Aveugle with its 14 covers just wouldn’t have survived.” Having got their hands on the keys, they set about gutting the former pub and renovating the three bedrooms (more are planned in the future).

Josh had to close his York restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle to open MyseJosh had to close his York restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle to open Myse
Josh had to close his York restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle to open Myse

“We thought it would take three months but it took six,” says Overington. “The renovation all goes down to Vicky – I had a great few months spending time with my daughter, while Vicky took charge of the renovation.” The result is a very different looking restaurant from Le Cochon Aveugle.

“Mýse is very feminine – it’s light and bright where Cochon was dark and moody. It’s modern country, all very soft and calm. Vicky is a country girl and I’ve lived in villages [he grew up in Beverley and went to school in Pocklington]. We want it to represent us.

“The food is definitely British. We limit ourselves to mainly using British produce – whether that's local or further afield, such as seafood from Scotland and Cornwall and then some foraged products from around the UK. We also use some unusual ingredients such as medlar – the oldest native fruit grown in the UK – which we use as a dessert. It looks a bit like a crab apple and you have to let it rot and then it tastes a bit like a toffee apple. We make an old-fashioned Roman cake out of that which we flambé at the table.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“And I think we are the only restaurant in the UK using colostrum, which is produced by the cow when the calf is born. The calf never uses all the colostrum so the dairy farmer just pours it down the drain. We make a custard from that. We are using traditional old-fashioned ingredients in a modern way.” The kitchen is twice as big at Le Cochon which means Overington can now do lunches and has been able to employ a head chef, Jamie Keeble, to allow him to spend time with his family.

Myse is the former village pubMyse is the former village pub
Myse is the former village pub

“Jamie and his partner Mimma, who is our sommelier, had been offered a job to run a one Michelin star in Hong Kong when I asked them to come and look at the site. I said I felt we could do something really special here. This was someone I had never worked with before, but he believed in the vision we had set out. They took a massive risk and hopefully it's paid off. It was a big leap of faith for everyone. The star isn’t my star, it's everybody's star – without everyone's hard work we wouldn’t be here. You can be the best chef in the world but if you don’t have amazing staff it would never have come.”

Mýse opens Wednesday to Saturday evenings and lunches on Fridays and Saturdays offering a tasting menu, shaped “by time and place”. “It’s important to me that we do the four days. There’s a lot of work especially now we have rooms and so I think it's important for the staff – and us – to have the three days off.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Overington has appeared on The Great British Menu only to be beaten by Michelin starred Yorkshire chef and friend Tommy Banks who went on to cook at the banquet. Vicky worked front of house at Banks’s Black Swan at Oldstead before taking over Le Cochon with her now husband. The couple met while they were both working in the French ski resort of Val d’Isere. Overington was a chef in a private chalet and Vicky, a trained A&E nurse was working in the clinic there and treated Overington when he broke his leg. The pair hit it off, did another ski season together before returning to the UK where Vicky moved to Yorkshire to be with Josh and follow their dream of opening their own restaurant. But the banks were not keen to lend to two young people who had never run a restaurant before.

Michelin starred Myse restaurant, Hovingham, North Yorkshire. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty.Michelin starred Myse restaurant, Hovingham, North Yorkshire. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty.
Michelin starred Myse restaurant, Hovingham, North Yorkshire. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer, James Hardisty.

So Victoria went to work at the Black Swan as assistant manager and Overington went to the Michelin starred Pipe and Glass near Beverley, then worked with Michael O’Hare at the Blind Swine in York before he opened Le Cochon Aveugle. When O’Hare left to open Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds Overington decided to take over Le Cochon - him as chef and Vicky as sommelier.

“I was never French; it was called Le Cochon Aveugle as when I bought it I didn't have enough money to change it,” he says. “Mýse is 100 per cent me and Vicky’s restaurant, it is 100 per cent everything we like about food and wine and service. Winning the star was definitely the highlight of my career. To do it in seven months was amazing. I want to get better every day. We never cook and serve just to win awards.”​​​​​​