James Close has made history by becoming the first chef in the North East to achieve two Michelin-Star status
James Close has made culinary history by becoming the first chef from the North East to be awarded two Michelin stars.
The chef-owner of the multi award-winning Raby Hunt in Summerhouses, County Durham, was the only person to receive the two-star status at the Michelin Guide Awards.
The awards, held in London, revealed the 2017 Michelin Guide that now showcases James as one of 21 chefs in the country to hold two stars.
“It was an incredible night and it’s a massive honour to be the only restaurant in the country that has achieved two Michelin stars this year. It’s something you always dream of, but you never really think it will happen,” said the self-taught chef.
“I’ve made history, I’m the only chef in the North East to ever receive two stars, it’s quite surreal.
“They went through all the new one-star chefs on stage, and then I came out from behind a curtain and they told me I was the only person to be raised to two stars this year. It was quite a moment,” said James.
For food fanatics, the two-star status should come as no surprise, as James was awarded Chef of the Year in the Editor’s Awards for the Good Food Guide earlier this year, as well as the Raby Hunt being named 17th Best Restaurant in the Country by the Sunday Times.
After failing to become a professional golfer, James turned to the kitchen and despite being completely self-taught, he’s quickly established a reputation as one of the most talented chefs within the North East and throughout the UK.
“It’s unbelievable. We’ve only been open seven years and I’ve never had any formal training as a chef – to be the only new two-star for 2017 is amazing,” said James.
“I knew we were on the cusp of two stars, as we try to be original and creative, but it was a surprise to actually get them.
“It’s incredible to think I’ve got here after just seven years, and incredible to think that all of this has happened out of a little restaurant on the edge of Darlington.”
Since the Raby Hunt is the only restaurant in the North East to achieve this incredible two-star status, the restaurant should see an influx of foodies traveling near and far to sample its cuisine. This in turn should have a positive effect on the North-East economy.
“It’s massive for the North East, and I’m really proud of that. Hopefully, it will help change some of the stereotypes about the region because this is a fantastic place of the world with lots of exciting and excellent restaurants.”
James is not the only chef to make the North East proud. Kenny Atkinson, head chef and owner of the House of Tides, in Newcastle, retained his one-star status, while The Broad Chare, in Newcastle, retained its Bib Gourmand.
A Bib Gourmand award recognises top-level food at reasonable prices, and River Cafe on the Tyne, in Newcastle’s Quayside, received the prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand award too.