The Star Inn at Harome: Andrew Pern reveals staff rescued valuable Mouseman furniture from thatched roof fire

For a quarter of a century The Star Inn at Harome has been a labour of love for Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern. But on Wednesday night he had to stand back helplessly and watch it burn.

As a boy growing up in Whitby he would visit the 14th-century inn with his family as a treat and dreamt of one day owning it himself.

In 1996 that dream came true and Mr Pern has spent the last 25 years building up the enviable reputation of The Star and making it one of Yorkshire’s must visit destinations, winning many accolades from around the world.

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Yorkshire Michelin chef celebrates 25 years at The Star
Andrew Pern

But for Mr Pern, The Star has always been much more than just a business.

“I have always said we are just a chapter in The Star’s history - quite a big chapter but nonetheless a chapter. It is a privilege to be part of its history. Parts of it date back to the 14th century - it had a history long before us and it will go on after we have left.”

And so when he received a call at just after 10.15pm on Wednesday from his head chef Steve Smith to say there was a fire in the thatched roof Mr Pern knew it was serious.

“It is always a risk with a thatched building like this. The fire gets underneath the straw and it is very difficult to put out. It smoulders and with the breeze on Wednesday night it took hold.”

The middle section of the thatched roof has been destroyed

Mr Pern, who lives next door to The Star Inn with his family, rushed to the scene where staff were doing their best to extinguish it and save as much as they could.

“The staff did an amazing job with fire extinguishers, the barman was using a fire extinguisher from the cellar to try to put it out.”

Mr Pern and his staff managed to get out valuable Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson furniture which is synonymous with The Star Inn before the fire took hold.

They worked through the night but all they could do was make sure everyone was safe and watch the nine fire crews battle to save as much of the building as they could.

“It has been a huge mixture of emotions with highs and lows. I get very emotional when I talk to family, especially when my dad rang, but then I see all the villagers rallying round to help and you feel proud..”

And he has also been overwhelmed by the messages of support from the culinary world, including fellow Yorkshire Michelin-starred chefs, and beyond.

“I have had messages from so many people, from chef Tom Kerridge to the Archdeacon of York, it really does help.”

When the fire was eventually extinguished on Thursday and the investigation into the cause launched, Mr Pern said he was hopeful that the ancient A frame of the historic middle section of the inn could be saved.

And although he is determined to rebuild as soon as possible, Mr Pern is realistic about the time scale.

“I can’t see it being rebuilt within a year. There is a shortage of builders and materials at the moment and thatching is a skill that takes a long time. But we will be back. We are strong Yorkshire folk full of Yorkshire grit and we will press on regardless. We will get it back open again.”

Staff will be redeployed to his other restaurants, The Star Inn the Harbour in Whitby and the Star Inn the City in York.

Timeline: Andrew Pern' s culinary career

1996 - Andrew Pern buys the Star Inn at Harome at the age of 25

1998 - The Star Inn awarded a Bib Gourmand by The Michelin Guide

2001 - The Star Inn becomes only the second pub in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star

2011 - Andew Pern told he had lost the Michelin star

2013 - The Star Inn the City, York opens

2015 - Michelin star regained and retained ever since

2016 - Mr P’s Curious Tavern opens in York but is closed due to the pandemic in 2020

2017 - The Star Inn the Harbour opens in Andrew Pern’s home town of Whitby