Sunday sit down with…Shaun Rankin, Chef Patron at Grantley Hall
After opening in Summer 2019, Grantley Hall was only fully operational for six months before having to close its magnificent doors due to Covid. Now the team is preparing to welcome guests again...
In partnership with Grantley Hall
The latest addition to the North East and Yorkshire’s luxury hotel scene offers something we can’t say we’ve seen before.
Owner Valeria Sykes spent four years (with no expense spared) converting the 17th-century building into what can only be described as a haven – as soon as you drive through the gates you almost forget the outside world. A long drive up to the main house, beautiful grounds and a Japanese garden make even popping in for a cup of tea an event to remember – and why not?
But you won’t want to stay for just a cup of tea. For those that live locally, you’ll want to stay the entire afternoon. Just an hour and 30 minutes from Newcastle, the dining options (including its beautiful alfresco options) are worth a day-trip. If you’re lucky enough to be staying in one of the 47 rooms, you can enjoy access to a state of the art wellness centre (complete with a snow room) and can end the night dancing in on-site nightclub Valeria’s – the epitome of glamour named after its vivacious owner.
This week, we sat down with Shaun Rankin, Chef Patron at his on-site restaurant Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall…
Fine dining in sumptuous surroundings…
We sit waiting for Shaun in his restaurant, which is the former music room at Grantley Hall. Huge windows overlook the grounds and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It’s five-star service without the pretension. In fact, the majority of the 200 staff at Grantley Hall are from Yorkshire and the surrounding areas and it’s that friendly, Yorkshire hospitality that really shines through.
A Yorkshireman himself, Shaun arrives in a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, showing us his latest menu and making himself a cup of tea to join us. “I came on board about 18-months prior to the opening of Grantley Hall”, he explains. “I worked with the Sykes family to look at all of the restaurants and bars we’d have on-site. I was given the task of operating my own fine-dining restaurant, which was a great honour.
“We’ve sourced the finest products from around the world – for example, the china is from Limoges in France, the silverware is from Sheffield – we pay real attention to detail with everything we do here.”
“Having a relationship with Michelin is such a humbling experience”
Shaun honed his skills at The Mayfair Hotel in London, before spending many years working in Jersey. In 2003, he joined Bohemia restaurant as Head Chef, gaining his first Michelin star in 2005. In 2013 he opened his own highly-acclaimed restaurant, Ormer, in London which was awarded its first Michelin star just four months after opening.
So, is it hard to find a team of Michelin-level chefs in Yorkshire? “Not really, no. I brought some of my team that I’ve worked with over the past 15 years. When we opened, it was critical to have the support network to carry our offering through – it’s a real journey.
“When I got my first Michelin star it was an amazing feeling – the best achievement of my career at that time – and it’s still the same sort of feeling now. Knowing that you’re one of a privileged few to get to that point is fantastic, and for the team too. Realistically, it’s the team that does the hard yards and it’s fantastic for them to get the recognition.”
“Our menu is based on nostalgia – that’s why it’s called A Taste of Home.”
Shaun has been working on the ethos of his food for more than 25 years. He’s passionate about evoking nostalgia through his menus, as well as sourcing all of his ingredients from a 30-mile radius.
On his tasting menu, you’re likely to find courses including ‘bread, butter, dripping and beef tea’ and ‘Lanark blue cheese with a Harrogate sticky bun’. “We’ve taken inspiration from food we were typically brought up with in the North East and Yorkshire, and produce it to our Michelin level standards. As a Michelin-star restaurant, we’re inspected a lot during the course of the year – the standards are really very high. So our diners know the experience they can expect.
“We’ve got a kitchen garden on-site, and every single ingredient used in our menu is from within 30miles. So you won’t find mango, or passionfruit. We don’t use olive oil, but we use Yorkshire rapeseed oil. It’s really important for us as part of our menu, but also it’s much more sustainable and helps us to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible – we all have to do our bit.”
“Grantley Hall has achieved such a huge amount since we opened, the next step is welcoming our guests back”
One thing we know for sure is that Shaun Rankin isn’t a man to sit back and relax. So what’s next for his restaurant and Grantley Hall?
“Well we’ve not really had the chance to fire on all cylinders yet you know? We were open for such a short amount of time and have had to close three times now. For us, the priority is welcoming our guests and diners back as soon as possible and giving them a fantastic experience.”
As a destination restaurant in a destination hotel, Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall is expecting diners from as near as Yorkshire and as far as, well, globally.
“I don’t think we’ve even seen 50% of our guests yet – the travellers from Europe, the American guests – I’m really looking forward to getting to know our guests better – it’s really just the start of our journey…”