Adam Jackson, Head Chef, The Old Deanery: ‘I would say this is probably the most me, I’ve ever been as a chef’

The Staff Canteen

Adam Jackson is the head chef at newly opened, The Old Deanery in Ripon, North Yorkshire. He has previously held a Michelin-star at The Black Swan at Oldstead and went on to work at The Bow Room in York. He also owned his own restaurant for seven years.

He says in his latest role, he is ‘the most himself he has been as a chef’ and he is once again pushing towards that Michelin-star level.

“I love this industry and you wouldn’t do this job for 30 years if you didn’t!” laughed Adam. “I like being creative and it’s almost impossible to drag me away from a stove. Developing dishes is what I love.

Develop your own style

“When you’ve been cooking for a long time, you do develop your own style and your own signature sauces or dressings. But I think each venue needs to have its own identity as much as a chef’s identity and I think my style changes slightly with every venue. I would say this is probably the most me, I’ve ever been as a chef.

“I’m now serving the food that I would want to sit in that restaurant and eat. We’ve taken away a lot of the complexity and really focused on flavour and locality where possible. We use as many British things as we can, and we forage things from garden at The Deanery. All the preserves are made on site, and we are trying to do as much of our curing and charcuterie here as possible.”

Adam Jackson The Old Deanery


The exterior of The Old Deanery is an old mansion house, but inside, since changing it from a wedding venue, it is modern with softer décor and areas have been darkened to give a cosier, welcoming feel. Alongside Adam and his kitchen team, the front of house team led by Alex Stainsby who is the operations manager, are all working improving the guest experience.

destination restaurant

“The primary goal for this restaurant is to make it a destination restaurant and for people to love it,” explained Adam. “If accolades come that’s a great and a bonus but the main focus has to be the guest experience. Every month we like to make that a little bit better.

Adam Jackson The Old Deanery


“We’ve turned it into a restaurant with rooms, the dining room seats 30 covers, and we have a chef’s lounge which can also be set up as a chef’s table. We like to serve a couple of the snack courses from the chef’s lounge so that all our guests get that experience.”

Adam has been working in the industry for 30 years, he started as a commis at The Pavilion Hotel in York, and he took his first head chef role at The Rose and Crown in Sutton on the Forrest and then went to The Black Swan at Oldstead.

It was at The Black Swan that he achieved his first Michelin-star and said: “It’s the most invigorating experience you can probably have in your career. Every chef wants to achieve those accolades and those goals. I think for a long time they were my primary focus. But as you get older and more mature in your cooking, I think you just have to do what you love, the food that you love and hope that things come.”

The food scene in Britain, and especially Yorkshire, has gone from strength to strength

He added: “The food scene in Britain and especially Yorkshire has gone from strength to strength, and I’d say it’s as good as anywhere in the country now. The diners are much more discerning and hat they expect from a fine dining restaurant is much higher. I think the people who eat in these restaurants are getting more and more knowledgeable about food because of social media and what they see on TV. I think the guests have much higher expectations than ever.”

The issues with recruitment within hospitality have been very well publicised and Adam says he tackles this by getting ‘young staff’.

Adam Jackson The Old Deanery

“Invest time in them,” he said. “Rather than shouting and screaming at them, which was the way kitchens were years ago, I think it is more about mentoring now and trying to instil passion into these young people.

“You have to promote a four-day working week, which we do here, and give people the rest and the break times that they need.”

When it comes to the menu, Adam is proud to say that the whole team had an input, and they enjoy creating and serving seasonal, modern British dishes.

Adam said: “The halibut dish and the apple dessert are typical of the style; they are very flavour based and not to fussy. The primary focus of the food is me and what I want to serve. For instance, the first course that you get is a selection of game snacks which are very much of the season. But the condiments and the accompaniments were picked and foraged by me and my own children.

“There’s a lot of love in that dish.”

So, after three decades at the stove, Adam says the biggest lesson he has learned is ‘invest in people’.

“You need your team, and you can’t do everything yourself,” he explained. “The beauty of having hindsight and time in the industry is you realise those people are the people who matter.”

Adam Jackson The Old Deanery


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Editor 13th February 2024

Adam Jackson, Head Chef, The Old Deanery: ‘I would say this is probably the most me, I’ve ever been as a chef’