THE owner of a North Yorkshire restaurant is celebrating winning a prestigious 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.

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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.

The couple met while working at the former Rattle Owl restaurant in Micklegate in York - where Laurisa was restaurant manager - and it is their dream for some time to run their own restaurant.

Tom Heywood and Laurissa Cook at their new Helmsley restaurant, Pignut Tom Heywood and Laurissa Cook at their new Helmsley restaurant, Pignut (Image: Mollie Rose Photography)

Laurissa, 29, who was presented with her award 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.”

Laurissa with her Acorn AwardLaurissa with her Acorn Award (Image: Supplied)

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.

Some of the food from PignutSome of the food from Pignut (Image: Mollie Rose Photography)

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 24.

“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.

Pignut restaurant in HelmsleyPignut restaurant in Helmsley (Image: Supplied)