Simonstone Hall’s new head chef Craig Wanless aims to create ‘food with attitude’

Head chef Craig Wanless and general manager Robert Scott

Head chef Craig Wanless and general manager Robert Scott - Credit: Archant

The setting of Jeremy Clarkson’s ill-fated #SteakGate incident welcomes a new head chef

You will have heard about the kerfuffle up at Simonstone Hall in the lovely Yorkshire Dales village of Hawes where a certain television presenter lost his temper (and later his job) after a set-to with a co-worker. The hotel’s general manager Robert Scott shrugged his shoulders at the memory of the Jeremy Clarkson incident. He had met and served Clarkson before and said: ‘He’s an “”” but always entertaining.’

Today though wasn’t about yesterday’s headlines instead it was time to welcome Simonstone Hall’s new head chef Craig Wanless who was preparing an exclusive lunch even though he wasn’t expected to officially take up his new post for a few days yet. But Craig was keen to get into the kitchen.

It’s his first position as head chef but his experience is broad for someone not yet in his thirties and he is looking forward to creating ‘food with attitude’. He said: ‘People can expect high quality, home-style food with the very best local ingredients. At the moment I am setting up the kitchen, moving things around to the way I want them, getting my team together and discovering the best local suppliers. Every chef wants the very best ingredients.’

But something not all chefs will do is step out of the kitchen. ‘I will serve in the dining room when I can because I want to get to know our customers. It’s important to listen to what people say, listen to what they want; I love to learn from them. I think as a chef you are always learning, it’s how you can become a better chef. You can always do better.’

Menus are likely to be ‘playful and entertaining’ as Craig demonstrated at lunch with dishes using simple ingredients served in his own individual way. Today’s lunch menu on paper belied his sense of fun. And while the first course and the main course, which was served in two parts, were pretty straightforward, dessert was something else – raspberry, goat’s curd, oats served on hay and shrouded in clouds of dry ice. ‘Where do you find raspberries, in the hedgerows, in the hay,’ said Craig with a very broad smile on his face.


To start

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Ham, cheese, tomato

To continue

Chicken Kiev

To finish

Raspberry – goat’s curd – oats – hay

Wine notes by Neil Goldie, House of Townend

Opere Brut Rose, Villa Sandi, NV, Veneto, Italy

This wonderfully steely, crisp rose is produced from the same meticulous and challenging method as the finest Champagnes. It’s elegant with steely crisp acidity, freshness and length; persistent bubbles, a fine mouse and complex red berry flavours – the finish has elements of brioche and again a lovely quenching freshness.

‘Old Mans Blend’ 2013, Groote Post, South Africa

This wonderfully ripe and floral dry white is blended from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon and 20% Semillon grapes, all grown within eyeline of this famous old estate, situated 60km north of Capetown.. This dry white has both freshness and depth - an intriguing grapefruit and floral nose leads to a rich yet linear palate with notes of citrus, beeswax and minerals.

Old Vine Carignan ( O.V.C. ), Xavier Roger, Languedoc, France

This is the Holy Grail – a fabulously ripe, smooth and complex red that retains an elegance and smoothly sensual character due entirely to the 85 year-old bush vine trained Carignan grapes that produce it.


Pauletts Late picked Riesling 2006, Clare Valley, South Australia

An unusual and elegant dessert wine comes from an award-winning estate. With the maturity of its nine years under screw cap, this wine shows the complexity that such age offers – the finish goes on and on, and yet throughout it has elegance and a finely balanced character.


Simonstone Hall Country House Hotel


North Yorkshire DL8 3LY

01969 667255

Neil Goldie

House of Townend

Wyke Way

Melton West Business Park


East Yorkshire HU14 3BQ

01482 638855

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