Honest. Regional. Seasonal. Fresh. Rob Owen Brown is a down to earth chef who believes that food is for eating. He buys his ingredients from the kind of people who will recognise his voice on the end of the phone. Who will leave the golf course at three in the afternoon to fulfil an order for 10lb of tripe and who get equally excited about the greatest cuts of meat as the squidgiest bits of offal.
He cooks seasonal, local ingredients. You won’t see strawberries in December or exotic fish on his menus. He uses rapeseed oil rather than olive because it’s British and sustainable, as well as being delicious and better to fry with. There’s lard in his pastry and suet in his puddings. He is famous as much for the stunning quality of his food as his attitude to it (he once put petit pois on a menu as little peas because that’s what they are).
He describes himself as Fergus Henderson’s disciple in the north, which probably doesn’t do justice to the friendship between them. There is no doubt that Chef Henderson has been a big influence on Robert. He is the man who gave him the confidence to revisit the offal’s of his childhood and turn them into tasty, appealing dishes which are relevant today.
Despite its history and tradition Robert’s food is not old fashioned, though it is definitely authentic. Some of his dishes are marinated in history and true to their roots; others have been kicked up the arse all the way into the 21st century. All of it reflects his firmly held belief that that “if you are going to take a creature’s life you have a moral responsibility to use all of it.”
It was the managing director of JW Lees, William Lees Jones, who persuaded Robert to venture into Yorkshire. Robert had sworn blind he was never going to run another restaurant. He was more than happy running pop up events and cooking for private or corporate events. “I agreed to take a look,” says Robert. He drove down the lane and over the little bridge, a place where Postman Pat in his little red van would feel right at home, and fell in love with the place.
Robert insists, from a business perspective, the pub’s car park and proximity to the church was the deciding factor. “It’s going to make one of the best wedding venues in Yorkshire. We can put a marquee in the car park, we are creating a small woodland area and we will offer hog roasts. Perfect!” Just under six weeks into his tenancy, he already has a christening and a high profile wedding booked.
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