Paul Bentley has his mum to thank for his culinary career.

Bentleys, the family’s restaurant in Shelf village, was born out of the success of the two well-known Bradford food pubs the family ran, where Paul’s mum, Doreen, earned a revered reputation for her meat and potato pies which Paul helped to prepare.

He was 17 when he began prepping in the kitchen of the Prince of Orange – the first pub his parents Jack and Doreen took over.

Paul has fond recollections of scrubbing potatoes and preparing the meat for his mum’s famous home-made pies and talks of how it gave him an appetite to become a chef.

“My mum did the food and the pub got a lovely reputation for home-made food, but it got to the point where people were ordering her home-made pies and it wasn’t possible to make any more. They were sold out before they were made!” says Paul.

When Doreen pops into the kitchen during our chat, I seize the chance to ask her about Paul when he was a 17-year-old prodigy. “I spotted it early on,” she says, referring to his culinary potential. “He used to make ginger biscuits and Madeira cake when he was very young.”

Paul spent two years at Dewsbury College where he now teaches other aspiring chefs. He says he learned the rest from watching his mum.

Doreen is Paul’s inspiration. She and husband Jack encouraged and supported him when the family came out of the pub trade and launched their restaurant in Wade House Road, Shelf, 15 years ago.

Doreen still loves cooking but doesn’t spend as much time toiling over the stove as she used to, although she still supplies the restaurant with a few of her specialities – ginger moggies (similar to parkin) and malt loaves!

“The food is fantastic. We come once a week for a meal, we love it,” says Doreen.

Watching her son delicately dropping dots of Creme Anglaise onto the blood-red sauce circling his summer pudding – another dish inspired by Doreen – she acknowledges the skill of creating a dish. “It’s not just cooking it, it’s presenting it as well,” she says.

Working long, unsociable hours is a disadvantage but running a family business means there are always plenty of hands to help out. Paul recalls family members pitching in to share the care of his two teenage sons when they were young.

His wife Pamela looks after front of house. They met 17 years ago when Pamela worked as a waitress at their pub.

“She’s a competent chef too,” says Paul. “When she comes into the kitchen it suddenly gets very organised,” he smiles.

Paul particularly loves the changing seasons which inspire his dishes. “We are coming into autumn so it’s lovely game dishes, casseroles or daubes, as the French call them,” says Paul.

For a quarter of a century, the restaurant has served English food with international influences and is credited in some of the UK’s top restaurant guides.

Paul hints that the next generation are now coming into the business. “My children have been brought up in this trade,” he says. “We haven’t forced it on them but my son, who is 16, is helping in and around the business. It comes naturally to them to help with the food and the laundry and the washing-up.

“It’s always on your mind,” says Paul, telling me about the curry-style dish he recently devised after weeks of thinking about onion-inspired dishes, “It becomes part of you.”

Bentleys, 12 Wade House Road, Shelf. Tel: (01274) 690992

  • To celebrate their 15th anniversary, Bentleys are offering a three-course meal for £15.