THE SUCCESS of the North East’s only two Michelin star restaurant is proving a huge boost to the local economy.

And the high profile appearance by James Close of Darlington’s The Raby Hunt on BBC tv show, Masterchef the Professionals, has also added to the popularity of the restaurant – which in turn also bodes well for the local area.

The restaurant, in the tiny village of Summerhouse outside of Darlington, has gone from success to success, with self-taught chef James now considered one of the UK’s rising stars.

Since his appearance on Masterchef the Professionals there have been thousands of people in touch to make bookings, revealed James.

“We had had three people manning the phones constantly to deal with the volume of calls,” said James.

“And we’ve also had lots of people just turning up to have a look round the area.”

And the success of The Raby Hunt is not just beneficial to the restaurant itself.

Thomas Robinson, Managing Director of Headlam Hall Hotel in Darlington was full of praise for the profile The Raby Hunt had brought to the area.

“James Close along with his parents, Russell and Helene, have done an amazing job in turning a sleepy village pub into an internationally acclaimed, two Michelin star restaurant and in a relatively short period of time,” he said.

“It is a great advert for our area and we have seen a steady increase in the number of people travelling from further afield who visit the Raby Hunt and stay overnight with us at Headlam Hall, including some highly respected people in the culinary world.

“It is quite a remarkable achievement and I’m sure one that has come as a result of not only talent but also serious dedication.”

His words were echoed by Michael Robinson, from Walworth Castle Hotel, who said that they were also benefiting.

“We often have people staying who say they are going to eat at The Raby Hunt,” said Mr Robinson, who is general manager at the 12th century castle turned hotel.

“And hopefully now because of the television exposure that will only get better and better.

“It’s a huge asset to have a restaurant of that quality so close by, it can only be good for everyone.”

Henry Carver of leading Darlington estate agents, Carver Residential, confirmed that the restaurant was a great selling point for the area.

“When we are selling properties in some of the near-by villages we always mention that The Raby Hunt is just a few minutes away,” he said.

“It’s great to be able to market homes in really lovely villages by adding that there is a fantastic two Michelin star restaurant in the area, it is a really positive selling point.”


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