The North East’s only two Michelin star restaurant is providing a significant boost to the region’s economy.
Darlington’s The Raby Hunt, in the village of Summerhouse near Darlington, has gone from success to success, with self-taught chef James Close now considered one of the UK’s rising stars.
James’s appearance on Masterchef the Professionals has further boosted the profile of the restaurant, and has seen thousands of people contact The Raby Hunt to make bookings. James said: “We had had three people manning the phones constantly to deal with the volume of calls.
“And we’ve also had lots of people just turning up to have a look round the area.”
Its popularity has boosted bookings for other nearby businesses. Thomas Robinson, managing director of Headlam Hall Hotel in Darlington praised The Raby Hunt for raising the profile of the area.
He said: "James Close along with his parents, Russell and Helene, have done an amazing job in turning a sleepy village pub into an internationally acclaimed, two Michelin star restaurant and in a relatively short period of time.
“It is a great advert for our area and we have seen a steady increase in the number of people travelling from further afield who visit the Raby Hunt and stay overnight with us at Headlam Hall, including some highly respected people in the culinary world.
“It is quite a remarkable achievement and I'm sure one that has come as a result of not only talent but also serious dedication."
His words were echoed by Michael Robinson, from Walworth Castle Hotel, who said that they were also benefiting.
“We often have people staying who say they are going to eat at The Raby Hunt,” said Mr Robinson, who is general manager at the 12th century castle turned hotel.
“And hopefully now because of the television exposure that will only get better and better. It’s a huge asset to have a restaurant of that quality so close by, it can only be good for everyone.”