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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Andrew Pern, the Star Inn

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Andrew Pern, the Star Inn

Overall ranking: 99 (ranked 87 in 2010)

Chef ranking: 35 (ranked 26 in 2010)

Andrew Pern - Snapshot

Andrew Pern is the chef-proprietor of the 34-seat Star Inn at Harome, near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, where business partner and former wife Jacquie looks after the bar and front of house. The pub held a Michelin star from 2002 until 2010. The Perns have built up a mini-empire in Harome that includes the Pheasant hotel, just 200 yards from the Star Inn, and a gourmet village shop and deli. Until recently they also ran an upmarket tearoom at Scampston and a butcher's shop in nearby Helmsley. He appeared in the 2011 Great British Menu BBC TV series and won the North East final, but failed to make it through to the final four.

Andrew Pern - Career guide

Andrew Pern was born in the Esk Valley in North Yorkshire. He spent three years at Scarborough Technical College before joining the 11-bedroom Milburn Arms hotel at Rosedale Abbey in North Yorkshire, where he was promoted to head chef at the age of 22.

It was here that he met his wife, Jacquie, who was manageress of the hotel. The couple struck out on their own when they bought the 14th-century Star Inn in June 1996, and they remain business partners despite having separated. The Star Inn gained a Michelin star in 2002 and held on to it until January 2011.

From 2004 until 2010 the couple ran both the Star at Scampston, an upmarket tearoom with a purpose-built kitchen for cookery demonstrations, and a nearby butcher's shop called Perns of Helmsley, which they sold to a local baker last year.

2006 - the 10th anniversary of the Perns' enterprise - brought a new addition to their mini-empire in the form of the Farmhouse, which had served as home to the couple and their four children for two years. From October, the family-friendly four-bedroom accommodation opened to guests with the promise of their own personal on-site chef from the Pern brigade.

In February 2009 the Perns invested £1.3m in the Pheasant Hotel, which is just 200 yards away from the Star Inn. They took on the 15-bedroom hotel following the retirement of the Binks family, who had run the property since 1984.

Andrew Pern - What we think

Andrew Pern is a largely self-taught chef whose hearty northern dishes have been influenced by Paul Heathcote, Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White. Despite losing his Michelin star in January 2011, his reputation as a gastropub pioneer, and his dedication to local, seasonal produce long before it became fashionable has had a huge influence on the industry over the last 15 years.

When he was in his early 20s, Pern idolised White. "In his former days he had three Michelin stars, and the cooking he did then and the cooking we ate then was amazing," he told the BBC in 2008. "We used to save up all our tips and wages and travel to London to eat there. We learnt that way. The food Marco did then was absolutely amazing - it still is."

Pern is a keen champion of local and British produce, and his style is characterised by the juxtaposition of cheap and refined ingredients, such as foie gras with black pudding.

The Star has enjoyed phenomenal success over the years, including the collection of three Cateys

They were followed by the Good Pub Guide - Pub of the Year and the Which? Good Hotel Guide - Newcomer of the Year awards in 2004 and the Egon Ronay Gastropub of the Year accolade in 2005. In 2006 Pern was named Best Chef at the inaugural Northern Hospitality Awards and, a year later, the Star Inn won the Taste of England Award in the annual Enjoy England Awards for Excellence.

Despite opening tea rooms and a butchers over the years, the acquisition of the Pheasant Hotel in 2009 was the Perns' first attempt at running a second restaurant. While some may accuse it of being the distraction that cost the Star its Michelin status, it has proved a shrewd buy and is swiftly building a solid fanbase locally and nationally.

As a bastion of excellence in a county not known for its fine-dining options, Pern has also helped shape Yorkshire's culinary landscape today, with the likes of former head chef James Mackenzie winning acclaim and a Michelin star of his own, at the Pipe & Glass pub in South Dalton, East Yorkshire.

However, with the Star held in great affection in the surrounding area, it's hard to imagine business being affected by the loss or retention of any accolades, and challenging times will not stop Pern successfully balancing the contrasts of high-end food and local community pub.

"I'm not a landlord, I'm a chef through and through," he told Caterer last year. "But like most chefs, I enjoy a pint or two. A pub is a lot more easy-going."

Andrew Pern's ranking in the 2010 Caterersearch.com 100 >>

Restaurant: The Pheasant, Harome, North Yorkshire >>

Michelin-starred pubs - local stars >>

Owners of Michelin-starred Star Inn invest in £1.3m Pheasant Hotel >>

Michelin-starred Star Inn reopens after norovirus outbreak >>

Star Inn website >>

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