2 Michelin Star Chefs: James Close, The Raby Hunt

The  Staff Canteen

James Close is the chef owner of two Michelin-starred The Raby Hunt in Darlington.

As the only two Michelin-starred restaurant in the North East The Raby Hunt stands out from the crowd, cementing James Close’s reputation as one of the region’s most unique chefs.

The Raby Hunt


Summerhouse, Darlington DL2 3UD

Opening hours:

Wednesday – Saturday 6pm – 9.30pm

Saturday 12 noon – 2pm 

Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

Website: www.rabyhuntrestaurant.co.uk

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 01325 374237

Twitter: @rabyhunt

Instagram: @rabyhunt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/The-Raby-Hunt-Restaurant-189578331076535/

Head chef: James Close

Restaurant manager and head sommelier: Jim Conway

James Close biography

James Close was once a labourer then a professional golfer before becoming a chef and settling in his niche.

Unsure with which direction to take his life after golfing, it was on a holiday in Girona, Catalonia, that James ate at El Celler de Can Roca, the three-Michelin Starred restaurant owned by the Roca brothers Joan, Josep, and Jordi, which in 2013 was named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine. It was here that James was inspired to become a purveyor of the finest gastronomy.

James' family bought the property which would become The Raby Hunt in 2009, and, within 3 years, in 2012, the restaurant was awarded with its first Michelin star. In 2014, it appeared in the Good Food Guide's Top 50 restaurants, and has remained in those ranks ever since.

It received a second Michelin star in the 2017 guide.

James Close awards and accolades

Since becoming a chef, James has had a great deal of success. As well as the two Michelin stars under his belt, the chef has received rave critic reviews, and was named Chef of the Year in The Good Food Guide 2017.

The chef has always insisted on continously pushing for improvements, seeing the idea of a challenge as a positive.

James Close on the key to his success

For James, the key to progress is the same whether your career is playing golf or working as a chef; “consistency and adaptability” are the two key factors which govern success.

What the guides say...


Good Food Guide

Ranked 13th best restaurant in the country in the 2020 guide with an 8/10 score, meaning "Highly individual with impressive artistry. There is little room for disappointment here"







"Simplicity is something I admire,” James explained in an interview with The Staff Canteen, “when you use the best produce it should not be complicated by contrasting flavours or needless theatre. If you have the best and most fresh, why ruin that? Let your customers eat food as nature intended.”

The Raby Hunt Food Style:

James like to emphasise simplicity in his food, with simple, complementing flavour combinations using locally sourced ingredients.

£350k refurbishment of The Raby Hunt

It was that second star which put the wheels in motion to build on the original restaurant and transform it into the vision James had in his mind.

Four weeks and a £350,000 investment later, the finished result is rather impressive. The restaurant now boasts a chef's table and a much larger kitchen for James and his team – which has also grown.

Videos of James Close: 


In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th January 2021

2 Michelin Star Chefs: James Close, The Raby Hunt