My Yorkshire: Andrew Pern

Andrew Pern, born and bred in the Esk Valley, near Whitby, is chef / patron of the Michelin-starred The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire. His championing of local suppliers and producers on his menus has helped win many awards.

What's your first memory of being outdoors?

This would have to be on my mum and dad's farm in the Esk Valley. Walking along the lane to feed the pheasant chicks – which we reared for the rough shoots on the farm – with a metal bucket of meal, nearly as big as I was, and getting my legs soaked by the drenched dock leaves. Then going into the warmth of the farmhouse to get dry. I guess I would have been around four.

What's your favourite part of the county and why?

I love the drive from Hutton-le-Hole via Chimney Bank to Rosedale, where I used to work. Over the moors to Egton Bridge, home to the oldest gooseberry show in the world and the Postgate pub, with its quoits pitch (I love the old-fashioned, slight eccentricity of those sorts of pastimes), then on to Aislaby and Sleights to the area where I grew up.

What's your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire?

Whitby will always have a special place in my heart. I love all of its touristy tackiness, but I particularly enjoy Whitby Regatta with the Red Arrows, the fireworks, the big wheels and waltzers on the pier, and the tang of fried onions and the vinegary scent of the fish and chip shops. I remember vividly as a child staying with my nana and granddad and all the excitement of the Regatta weekend. Then, as I grew older, the slightly more social side with my mates from Whitby Rugby Club. Now to go back, as I did this year, with my four children and to see the same excitement on their faces, brought back all of the memories.

Do you have a favourite walk, or view?

The view of the Hole of Horcum on a late August summer's day with the purple-cloaked Moors all around, and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam engine puffing along the track through the middle of it all. I also love the view looking over Runswick Bay.

Which Yorkshire sportsman/woman (past or present) would you like to take for lunch?

I would choose Freddie Trueman, who I was lucky enough to cook for one evening when he came with Dickie Bird, Ray Illingworth and Brian Close. I enjoyed a glass (or bottle) or two of red wine with him afterwards. He was a great character and very inspirational to everyone he chatted to.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch?

I've known Ian Carmichael all of my life and he's a great friend of my mum and dad. He is one of the last few old-school English eccentrics and a lovely man. His partner, Kate, also makes a mean orange whisky.

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

It would be the Birch Hall Inn at Beck Hole, just down from Goathland, which is also the village shop and is absolutely minute. You are served through a hatch and sit outside, as there's no space to swing a cat (or sheep) inside.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so what?

I played rugby union in my teens, captaining Middlesbrough Colts for three years and playing for virtually any team when they were short of a player. I follow the cricket at Headingley and our own great village cricket team. We act as the clubhouse after home matches, with barbeques and social activities, which brings the whole village together, from little children to grandparents, all following their local lads' progress. It makes for a great sense of community.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The people of Yorkshire give the county its unique identity. I know that I'm slightly biased, but the friends and neighbours we've encountered while we've been at The Star over the past 13 years have been absolutely amazing, so supportive and helpful. We've met a lot of characters along the way. Yorkshire people seem to have an in-built pride.

What about Yorkshire's cultural life?

Being a chef, I tend to work long hours and miss out on these luxuries. However, when I visited the National Portrait Gallery recently, I enjoyed an exhibition of David Hockney's, another of our visitors. I can relate to his Yorkshire landscapes of the rolling East Yorkshire Wolds. He's another of those slightly eccentric types who I seem to get on with!

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub?

My favourite pub is, of course, The Star Inn, which has everything I'd ever want from an old English inn, from ambience, locals, good food and wine. And my second favourite would have to be the Pheasant, our sister hotel in the village, where the food, cooked by Peter Neville, is outstanding. But if I can't have one of our own, it would have to be The Pipe and Glass, over near Beverley, at South Dalton, where there is an exceptional menu brimming full of local Yorkshire produce.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Derek Fox's Butchers, in Malton, always has a great display of furred and feathered game hanging outside, and a must is Fortune's Kipper Shop, in Whitby, in the shadow of Whitby Abbey. I love the fact they smoke what they do every day and when they're gone, they're gone, and the shop closes. You can only get them from their shop and they are still sold wrapped in newspaper.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed in the time you've known it?

I have known Yorkshire for just over 40 years and throughout my career to date, I have seen immense changes in the catering industry. I remember, as a child, food in pubs and restaurants was very much of the "in-a-basket" variety. Nowadays, Yorkshire has the most highly regarded establishments outside of London in the Good Food Guide.

Are those changes for the better?

Of course!

Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire?

Marco Pierre White, who was born in Leeds, was a great inspiration for me, while at college in Scarborough. I bought his White Heat cookbook and was totally absorbed by the whole ethos of fine dining, and classical food presented in a totally individual way. I later ate at his three Michelin-starred Oak Room in Knightsbridge some 20 years ago, and it is still, to this day, the best food I have ever eaten.

How has Yorkshire influenced your work?

We have such a brilliant pantry of food literally on our doorstep, taking produce from the North Sea, Yorkshire Moors, Vale of York and Ryedale, and let the seasons write our menus. My life is made so much easier by the fantastic suppliers from around the county.

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

Writing my own book, Black Pudding and Foie Gras, was a labour of love and I hope that the finished product is the greatest brochure for Yorkshire grub and Yorkshire itself.

Next Saturday, Andrew Pern is taking centre stage at Malton's Autumn Food Lovers' Festival, where he will be demonstrating some of his menus.