Laurissa Cook, co-owner of Pignut, in Helmsley, wins National Award

Tom Heywood

Tom Heywood

Head Chef 11th June 2024
Tom Heywood

Tom Heywood

Head Chef

Laurissa Cook, co-owner of Pignut, in Helmsley, wins National Award

A North Yorkshire restaurant is celebrating after winning a prestigious national award.

Laurissa Cook, co-owner of Pignut, in Helmsley, has scooped an Acorn Award – which recognises 30 of the UK’s hospitality industry’s most talented stars, aged under 30.

The news comes as Pignut – which Laurissa owns with partner and chef, Tom Heywood – also celebrates their first-year anniversary, as well as Tom being shortlisted for the Sustainability Excellence Award at the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards.

Laurissa, 29, who was presented with her award yesterday at The Belfry Hotel and Resort, said: “It was a massive shock when I found out I had won and it’s amazing to join the list of this year’s winners and previous winners.”

The Acorn Awards celebrate individuals’ flair and passion, as well as being an inspiration to others within the industry.

“I’ve never won anything before, and it’s such a great achievement,” added Laurissa. “We love what we do here at Pignut and we never do it for the awards – we’re passionate about the power of local ingredients, the farmers and growers we work with and sustainability.

“The award isn’t for me, it’s for the business. I hope, if anything, it gets people looking at the restaurant as there are still so many people who haven’t heard of us, and we want them to come and see what we do.”

Named after a foraged nut which can be found in the area, Pignut has already achieved 2 rosettes, been featured in the Good Food Guide and is recommended in the Michelin Guide – all within 12 months of opening.

Sustainability is at the heart of the business, which also has a zero-waste policy in the kitchen. Tom and Laurissa source all of the ingredients locally. Beef and pork come from Castle Howard, poultry from Easingwold and the pair pick fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers from Helmsley Walled Garden.

The couple are keen foragers, too, and Laurissa has been known to find foraging spots while out on her horse.

“We’re guided by the hands of the farmers and producers and we’re proud to be part of such an exceptional community,” said Laurissa.

When it comes to wines, Laurissa sources natural, biodynamic wines, and the restaurant uses sustainable wine solutions, which pick up empty glass bottles and refill them. Even the dried flowers on the tables in Pignut are handpicked from Tom and Laurissa’s garden at home.

“It has been an incredible first year,” said Tom, who will find out if he’s won the Sustainability award on June 24th.

“I am extremely proud of Laurissa for winning the Acorn Award. We’ve always believed in ourselves and what we set out to offer guests at Pignut. Now that hard work is paying off.”

The awards, by The Caterer, were presented by deputy editor Caroline Baldwin and CH&Co chief operating officer Allister Richards during a special three-course lunch yesterday.

Allister said: “The Acorn Awards is without doubt a highlight of the hospitality industry calendar.

“The creativity, ambition and energy of all the winners is a magnificent reminder of how exciting and full of opportunity our industry is. While they’re all succeeding and flourishing as individuals on their own unique development pathway, they’re all empowered by a shared desire and determination to succeed and make a difference, and a sector that fully embraces diverse talent.

“As always, I’ve been blown away by the incredible achievements of each of this year’s Acorns. Early on in their hospitality careers they have shown unbounded potential, remarkable ability and vision, and they’ve laid their claim as future hospitality leaders and influencers.”

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