A YORK-based property developer and hotel operator has signed up former Masterchef finalist Tom Rennolds as food consultant for the group.

The Skelwith Group, which runs Raithwaite Estate near Whitby, and is currently developing the £100 million Flaxby Country Resort near Knaresborough, has appointed Mr Rennolds to give food and beverage advice on a range of projects undertaken by the group.

Mr Rennolds will be based at Skelwith's latest pub development, taking on the role of managing chef at the newly named Curious Plum in Husthwaite, near Easingwold.

Paul Ellis, managing director of Skelwith said: “It is a real coup to bring on board someone of Tom’s caliber.

"He will add a tremendous amount to our new and future interests, which include a lot of hospitality outlets.

"He has a great breadth of experience and we are very excited for him to put his stamp on the Curious Plum project."

Opening on the site of the former Orchard Inn in Husthwaite, The Curious Plum project will see the pub completely refurbished and extended to provide eight bedrooms, bar and restaurant areas, outside eating pods and a new courtyard, all of which is set to open towards the end of this year.

Mr Rennolds was Masterchef runner-up in the 2012 competition, after which he has worked at several restaurants.

The Curious Plum is Skelwith's latest development, which will be followed by the opening of Flaxby Resort, schedule for the end of 2015.

Highway works are currently underway, which include a new roundabout on the A59, due to be completed next month.

The Skelwith Group is also behind recently approved plans to convert the former Aviva offices in Rougier Street into 47 flats. Work on the project is due to start in April.