Robb Reader: Shaun Rankin

The English chef, restaurateur and TV personality on revamping the culinary offering at Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire.

How did you come about the idea of creating a menu based on your childhood?
Moving back to Yorkshire after many years on Jersey and in London immediately brought back childhood memories for me. I moved to London when I was 15 years old so to be back in Yorkshire and have access to all of the incredible seasonal produce that the county had to offer, it was important to me evoke those childhood memories in the dishes I created. The Taste of Home menu recreates dishes that our guests from North Yorkshire and the surrounding area may have grown up with. The philosophy of the food is to create an experience for the guest so they can close their eyes and reminisce on their childhoods.

Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall 

Sustainable produce is a big priority in the Grantley Hall kitchens – how do you go about enforcing it?
As a new restaurant, it’s been easy to instil our sustainable approach to the team from day one – they understand the importance of our ethos and support it fully. The Taste of Home menu is based on using locally sourced, seasonal produce so there is no need to ‘enforce’ that approach as such. It’s all about the planning when it comes to sustainable produce, to ensure that we make the most of what the season has to offer – we’re always planning for what’s coming into season, what produce we can forage for, what ingredients we can preserve or pickle.

What kind of positive impact does the sustainable approach have?
It has a huge impact on the local community – many of our suppliers, growers and farmers are based on our door stop so a sustainable approach like ours allows us to give back to the community. It’s helping North Yorkshire to strive. We also try to grow as much as we can in our Kitchen Garden. It means that the ingredients are of the highest quality and we know exactly where they have come. Traceability is so important to the consumer and we’re committed to knowing the origin of every single ingredient on the plate.

Sourcing produce in the Kitchen Garden 

What traits make a supplier a “food hero”?
It has to be their ethos – what they believe in – and their passion. We want to work with suppliers who have the same understanding and approach as we do so that our overall ethos is aligned. For example, we use R&J Farmers & Butchers who are based just five minutes from the hotel in Kirby Malzeard. They are 3rd generation farmers and a supplier that I would absolutely class as a Food Hero.

What difference does having a forager work for you make to the food?
We’ve worked with foragers for over 10 years now and it’s hugely important for the development of the Taste of Home menu. But we also contribute to our own foraging. The kitchen team are responsible for foraging things like bilberries, elderberries and elderflower. They take great pride in taking sustainably from the countryside – they full understand what we are trying to achieve and the important role that foraging plays in that.

Who – dead or alive – are your greatest influences?
I would say that my greatest influence is Thomas Keller. He is one of the most respected chefs in the world and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him. He is very influential and a real inspiration to me.