Michelin-starred chef Sean Wrest reveals his plans for Ye Horns Inn near Preston
Landmark Lancashire hostelry Ye Horns Inn is back in business – with a new look and a new Michelin star-winning Chef Patron.
The venue, which had been closed since its former owners retired, was for many years famed for its duck and pheasant dishes, but now award-winning chef Sean Wrest, who has relocated from Yorkshire, is keen to put his own stamp on the menu.
Sean, who is originally from Leyburn, viewed the new-look Horns in December and said: “As soon as I parked up in the car park I knew this was the place for us.”
After speaking to the directors he said: “We all had the same goal to create a great restaurant that’s booked every day and that people come back to – we don't want people to come once for the experience.
"What we want is for people to come back as many times as they like.”
He continued: “The food is always going to be really good and really technical and clever and it’s good to create menus that are a talking point, but essentially we want the price to reflect you can come all the time if you want to.”
Diners will be able to choose from a grand restaurant room created in the Horns’ former living accommodation, a large light-filled conservatory extension, or a small private dining room.
But Sean is also keen to point out there is still a traditional bar area.
He said: “If people just want to pop in for a pint or a few pints and some snacks they can have that as well.”
He had left Roots in York last summer where as a 29-year-old head chef he gained that coveted Michelin star.
Prior to that he had worked as part of the team at Michelin-starred The Black Swan at Oldstead, also in Yorkshire, and also a Tommy Banks’ venue.
But Sean was getting the urge to run his own venue, which meant it was time to take a break and move on.
The offer to relocate to Lancashire was irresistible.
Sean is adamant that while he will be working on a special duck recipe for the venue, keeping the link with its history, he is seeking to create not so much signature dishes, as a seasonal menu of distinctive and favourite dishes.
They will also include local produce and drinks from companies such as cheesemakers Carron Lodge and Mrs Kirkham’s and local distilleries Goosnargh Gin and Wild Fox Gin.
He said: “We’re also going to be doing a lot of foraging, fermenting and pickling which means our cuisine can change. For example we can take ingredients which we’ve preserved such as elderflower vinegar, oil and cordial and use them in December.”
But there will be nothing ordinary about the menu.
He explained his take on fish and chips: “Rather than using just haddock we’re going for halibut and we cure it in salt and dill.
"Then instead of normal beer batter there’s a tempura batter like a Japanese batter, it’s super light.
"We’ll put it in a espuma gun and make it all fluff up and foam it over the fish. It will be like a really light batter and the fish will also be really juicy.
"There’ll be triple-cooked chips and our take on the peas will be a pea puree.”
Puddings will also be a voyage of tasteful discovery with, for example, the Horns’ take on a trifle comprising a decorative multi layered “opera cake”.
Growing up, Sean always appreciated it when his parents took him out for meals and says a family photo shows him in charge of a toy kitchen aged three.
He said: “I must have had some underlying issue that I wanted to be a chef.
"When I was a teenager I wanted to be in the police but then when I got to year 10 I got to do work experience for two weeks. I went to do it locally in a place called The Sandpiper and I got the bug from that.”
Sean returned to the Sandpiper Inn for his catering apprenticeship, training one day a week at Darlington College. He then moved to Yorebridge House, a five star hotel in the Yorkshire Dales before moving to The Black Swan – named as the best restaurant in the world on Tripadvisor – before becoming head chef at Roots.
In his time, Sean has also completed two-month internships. The first at the three Michelin star Fat Duck restaurant in Bray when he was 21, and then at the three Michelin star Maaemo in Oslo, Norway when he was 25.
As for Michelin star ambitions for Ye Horns, and how to get one, Sean said: ”It’s super difficult to know. It’s hard to pinpoint I think.
"What it really is, is showing your own personality through the food, and I think that’s what we’re trying to achieve here.”
He has been joined at the Horns by Tony Bee as Head Chef and Anton Johnson as Pastry Chef.
He describes them as “two really great chefs - here because we believe in each other and we’re going in the same direction.
"It’s not about dictating – we’re working together”.
Sean’s partner Sam Haigh, 27, who was formerly restaurant manager at the Black Swan, is the general manager at Ye Horns.
Bar Manager is Matt Whitter from Thornley, near Longridge.
Prices will range from £8 – £12 for starters and main courses will be £18-£20. Bookings are now being taken and Ye Horns plans to be welcoming customers from April 28.