A NEW head chef is attracting attention at a top York hotel whose owner hopes to take her award-winning business to another level.

Adam Jackson has joined Grays Court Hotel and Bow Room Restaurant from the Feversham Arms in Helmsley, where he was the executive chef.

Sarah Czarnecki, strategic partner at the Grade I-listed boutique hotel, said Adam had a strong following and his arrival had 'made a big difference'.

Adam's earlier roles include executive chef at The Park restaurant at Marmadukes hotel in York, head chef at the Black Swan, Oldstead, when it won a Michelin star, and executive chef at Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest.

His appointment is part of Grays Court owner Helen Heraty's plans to enhance the restaurant side of her family-run business. She said lockdown had given them time to consider their future plans. "We have done incredibly well but that puts pressure on us."

Grays Court won a Michelin Plate in the 2021 guide for its restaurant, after scooping best small hotel of the year last year in the VisitEngland Awards and Visit York Tourism Awards.

“Having achieved the accolades, we can’t afford to sit back," said Helen.

"We had a restructure. We wanted a really good, professional chef who would lead. While the hotel side has done really well, the restaurant side is now finally being noticed. It is like rounding the circle."

Sarah added: “It is great to know we have a competent and confident team. Now we need to evolve."

Grays Court is now offering food during the day for the first time, with charcuterie boards, featuring products from local suppliers.

Future plans for the 12-bedroom hotel include another seven suites, subject to planning consent.

"We are going forward cautiously and not overstretching our budget," said Helen. "Just to have survived this year is an achievement. We have battled through.”

Helen said it was great to welcome guests, many of whom say they are indulging in a touch of luxury after abandoning plans to go abroad. "We are really excited."

Sarah described Helen as an 'unsung hero', whose leadership was recognised when she made it into the ‘power list’ in Boutique Hotelier.

"Helen lives here," she said. "We have never really stopped. While we haven’t been open the phone still rings. To have a family-run business on her own and to get on that nationally-recognised ‘power list’ is wonderful."

Sarah said the industry was witnesses staff and skills shortages.

"Some of the hotel groups are using this as an opportunity to get people to run two hotels. There are a lot of changes for hotels and using Covid as an excuse. We are doing the opposite.

"We are very busy with restaurant bookings. It is definitely notable. To get such a brilliant chef, and people who want to work here is so lovely. We are not fully staffed but we have the core team in place and we are confident."