“They can take them away as quickly as they can give them.” Shaun Rankin on stars ahead of tonight’s Michelin Guide 2020.

The Staff Canteen

Shaun Rankin held a Michelin star for 14 years before leaving his Jeresy restaurant Ormer in 2017, so he knows how the UK’s chefs will be feeling today as the new guide is released.

After a break from ‘the market place’ Shaun is back with a bang with his flagship restaurant, Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall and he is looking for two stars not just one!

He is not afraid to say that the newly opened multi-million-pound project is on the hunt for the accolades he feels it deserves.

“There’s a lot of passion gone into this and it’s self-driven,” explained Shaun. “I have my ambitions personally as a chef – if I set this up as a one star or trying to get a one star, I’d fail. We have to look at it as we are going for two stars.

“Do we have the service? Yes, we do. Do we have the right people? Yes, we do. Do we have the culinary skill? Yes, we do. Do we have the passion? Yeah, we do – we want to get Grantley Hall to that top level in all the guides.”

Grantley Hall, based in North Yorkshire, is very impressive and it is four years in the making. There are multiple dining options but after two years of designing, developing and no doubt sleepless nights Shaun’s fine dining restaurant is in a league of its own. Standing in the decadent and luxurious dining room it’s clear the guides will be impressed and the opinion of the guides, Shaun believes is definitely still relevant.

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Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall

“Some people do give their stars back, that’s their choice. There is a lot of stress involved in it, I held a star back to back for 14 years which was a great achievement. Did I feel any less last year when I didn’t have a star because I left my restaurant in Jersey? No. I didn’t feel like there was a piece missing inside, I just needed to find another restaurant to get back in and do that.

“Stars are important for business because people worldwide recognise what Michelin is.”

As a veteran star holder he knows better than anyone the pressure on chefs to achieve this accolade and then retain it.

“When you are a young chef you just want to learn how to cook and stay out of trouble! When I was young and on sections I never thought I would be designing restaurants."

He said: “It’s important to talk to the guides and develop a relationship with them and an understanding. 

"But if you do think it’s good enough, and you feel it’s ready then you should have confidence in it. It’s a nail-biting moment, but you just never know.”

He added: “They can take them away as quickly as they can give them. Restaurants are built on reputation and it’s people’s lives and their passion – to have a star taken away can really damage them personally, family-wise and business-wise.

“I think the guides are very mindful and careful of that, they know the impact it can have.”

Originally from Durham, Shaun is very happy to be back up North. He says he left home aged 17 went straight to London and never came back. Grantley was clearly the pull he needed, he said: “I love a good challenge and a good development – I get stuck in and I love it.

“It’s been fabulous, exciting, a great journey and would I do it again? Yes, I’d do it tomorrow.”

Shaun has spent a decade working on projects and developing them, a side to his career he really enjoys but never thought he would be doing as a young chef.

“People aren’t just chefs anymore, you think about the plate wear, the glass wear – we choose everything. People want an experience so on a project you have to get it right, right from the off.

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He added: “When you are a young chef you just want to learn how to cook and stay out of trouble! When I was young and on sections I never thought I would be designing restaurants.”

As if Grantley Hall isn’t enough of a challenge Shaun is keen to stress he is still very much involved in Ormer in Mayfair but that the two restaurants are very different.

“Grantley Hall it’s tasting menu only, we cook in season and we have fabulous kitchen gardens to work from. Plus, we have great local produce and a great local supply chain around the area.

“The food is completely different to Ormer, we are developing our own style of tasting menu and remember we are in Yorkshire, we can’t be too small! I approached it by stripping everything back and looking at what Yorkshire is great and good at. I focused on childhood memories, which is what food is all about anyway and what Yorkshire has to offer.”

““There is no work life balance. Would I change it? No. Have I made some mistakes? Yes."

Shaun is clearly passionate about what he is doing and says he feels ‘reinvigorated’ after taking a few years out.

“I was working hard as a chef, I did a lot TV like Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu, all those fabulous things which take you on your journey; what happens is you get caught up in a rat race and you get caught up in a world which is not your world,” explained Shaun.

“People want more of you and before you know it you are actually walking away from the stove and the kitchen and you are starting to develop restaurants and develop a business and different things as a brand. So, SR, Shaun Rankin is a brand and you get caught up in it. I got caught up in it for four years and I forgot what I love which is cooking and developing a restaurant in a way I want to run it.”

He added: “For four years I left the market place so for me coming back, Grantley Hall reinvigorated me so much that it has actually given me my passion back into food.”

With his children still based in Jersey, a restaurant in London and now his flagship in Yorkshire it seems it may be impossible for Shaun to have any work/life balance.

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“I like the fast-paced side of life. I like the travel, I like meeting new people and seeing new things.

“There is no work life balance. Would I change it? No. Have I made some mistakes? Yes. Those mistakes put me back a few years so there is no work life balance and I can’t see that changing in the next five years. I’ve got to work harder now, and I just have to try and make the best of it.”

With such a huge operation like Grantley Hall keeping food waste to a minimum, sourcing sustainable produce and very importantly retaining staff has its challenges. Running a tasting menu only makes all of those points easier for Shaun and his team to achieve. He believes chefs are more aware now than ever about waste mainly because of increasing costs of ingredients.

“It is going up ten-fold all the time, everything costs so much more. Unfortunately, the price we sell the food for doesn’t go up, well not to the extent everything else goes up.

“To run the business and keep the costs down you have to manage yourself, your kitchen and your product really well. You need to understand the wastage side and the biproduct and what can be developed from that to keep your costs down.

“For me if I can shop, buy, rear everything I use within a 30-mile radius around Grantley Hall, then I’m doing the right job. For me that is sustainability, working with people around the area and helping them grow their business.”

There are 10 members of staff in Shaun’s the kitchen including his sous chef who has worked with him for over eight years and he says recruitment at Grantley has been ‘one of the most challenging aspects’.

“I’m lucky,” he said. “I have opened a lot of restaurants and built relationships with people in those core teams. Chefs are renowned for being bad tempered and mistreating people, certainly in your younger years. You get older and develop your own self and you think ‘would I want to be treated like that?’. You have to change your own mindset and think this has got to be different now. You have to think how can I make staff enjoy their job? Because if they do that is going to shine from the food side but also the service side.

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“We are in the middle of nowhere, but we have fabulous staff accommodation – six kitchens, a gym, a cinema room. We’ve developed a training academy here which all of our staff can utilise – they can go on training courses and we train in-house. We offer all of that and great wages in a great area – there’s not much more we can do.

“We are continuously looking for staff and I don’t think we will ever stop.”

Running two restaurants at different ends of the country comes with its challenges but Shaun does enjoy a challenge!

“I work hard in both places, I love my restaurant Ormer in Mayfair. I work hand in hand with them, I consult on the menus and the philosophy of the food and the restaurant. This is Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall, this is my flagship now. Will I stay here? Yes I will – I’m home now.”

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Editor 7th October 2019

“They can take them away as quickly as they can give them.” Shaun Rankin on stars ahead of tonight’s Michelin Guide 2020.