The North-East is home to the Michelin Young Chef of the Year 2024. Jake Jones spoke to Lewis McGarry about his journey, his love of local produce and his motivations.

Jake Jones has had a passion for food from an early age - a passion that has driven him to receive one of the culinary world’s most prestigious awards.

“Both my father and uncle are chefs, and I was brought up surrounded by their work," says Jake, a 32-year-old chef raised in York.

"Watching them cook for such a long time gave me a lifelong passion from a young age. I’m so grateful to them for this.”

The Northern Echo: Jake Jones says watching his father and uncle cook gave him the passion which has driven his career

Head Chef at Forge, sited on the grounds of Middleton Lodge Estate in Midleton Tyas, North Yorkshire, Jake’s fine dining menu didn’t just secure him the Young Chef of the Year title, but also saw the estate claim a Michelin Green Star award given to restaurants at the forefront of the industry when it comes to their sustainable practices.

Working at some of North Yorkshire’s most notable restaurants, the Star Inn at Harome and the Black Swan at Oldstead - as well as spending time at L’enclume in Cumbria - has given him the experience needed to come to create Forge and become an award-winning chef.

“Before I started working at Middleton Lodge, I worked at some of the most noted farm-to-table restaurants in the region," he says.

“This gave me a wealth of knowledge in working with the seasons and landscape. Moving to Middleton Lodge allowed me to apply my knowledge to the ‘estate to plate’ ethos that they have.”

The estate has been heavily renovated by the Allison family. Over the past 16 years they have transformed the 200-acre estate which now homes two award-winning restaurants. They grow produce on site, reducing food miles and maintaining their estate-to-plate ethos allowing Jake to keep his menu creative and exciting.

“Estate owner, James [Allison] has done an amazing job of restoring the estate with sustainable incentives. There are 200-acres of parkland and the kitchen garden, which is a chef's dream," he says.

“I’ve been able to develop tasting experiences that are creative and reflect the surrounding estate at that time of year. It’s exciting for our guests and the team.”

The Northern Echo: Jake uses as many ingredients as possible sourced from the Middleton Lodge Estate for his dishesJake uses as many ingredients as possible sourced from the Middleton Lodge Estate for his dishes (Image: AURA BRAND COMMUNICATIONS)

The local produce means that every dish is fresh and full of flavour coming straight from the farm and into the kitchen keeps each dish packed with flavour for guests.

Jake says: “It’s important for all of the produce we use to be filled with natural flavour and texture. The estate is vast, and we get as much produce from here as possible, whether from the gardens or foraged from the woodland and farm fields.

“Where produce cannot be grown or reared on the estate, I work with the very best local producers, all of which are dedicated to supplying the very best. This is essential for the tasting experiences.”

Jake enjoys being able to walk the grounds surrounding Forge, "It’s here where I find inspiration to create new courses," he says, adding thatkeeping motivated and finding new ways to create unique dishes will always be important for him as he continues to develop at Forge.

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“When bringing the Forge concept to life, it was really important for us to create a restaurant that people loved and always wanted to return to.

“I love watching guests enjoy the experience we have developed and bringing something new to Forge is always a motivation. James and the team at the Lodge are inspiring and dedicated, and this also motivates me.”

The 32-year-old still has a long career ahead of him and hopes to further develop Forge and his own work in the hunt for further Michelin accolades.