THE first dish that Will Bonfield cooked was lamb cutlets. He was four-and-a-half and under the watchful eye of his grandmother in her farmhouse kitchen.

“I was at her side as she explained what to do,” said Will, who often stayed with his grandparents at their farm at Bolton Abbey. “That night I wrote a card to Mum and Dad who were on holiday, telling them what I’d been doing and how much I’d enjoyed cooking.”

Will credits his gran, Betty Spensley, with inspiring his love of cooking - leading to his career in hospitality. He has worked for Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK and overseas, including The Box Tree in Ilkley. Now Will is the new head chef at The Fleece in Addingham, which has re-opened to customers - and is the Telegraph & Argus Pub of the Week.

Betty, 93, was the first guest at The Fleece, a pub she has known all her life, at its recent opening day - after shielding for more than a year at her Addingham home. And the proud gran gave her seal of approval to Will’s dishes.

The Fleece, a Wharfedale landmark, was recently bought out of administration by the Oakman Group. With new general manager Hywel Morris at the helm, the 30-strong team has been looking forward to their flock returning.

The country pub has a traditional bar with cosy fires, spacious dining areas, a function room with bar and a terrace.

Hywel, who used to run The Fox in Menston, said: “I’ve always dreamt of managing The Fleece. It’s in an historic village, famous for its wool heritage with an especially supportive community. Having lived locally since I was 11, it’s been one of my favourite haunts for years - I love seeing friends and families here, many of whom are people I’ve known for much of my life, relaxing over food and drinks.

“The Fleece always had a great reputation for serving good food and being attentive to guests’ needs. That reputation means we’ve been lucky enough to attract some really good people to join our team, including my deputy Andrew Pye and our new head chef, Will.”

Hywel says the team has been chomping at the bit to open up: “Some people want to be doctors, and some want to climb Mount Everest. People who work in hospitality want the adrenalin of producing great food, serving it, rushing to get some more ice for a customer, the thrill of getting the whole service absolutely spot on. We thrive on caring for our guests and we have been starved of doing this for over a year.

“We’re following Government regulations, so only offering seated service for the moment. All our tables are socially distanced, some with screens between them. Our team are Covid-19 trained, temperature tested before shifts and wear face masks. We have a regular cleaning schedule and guests are asked to check in on the NHS track and trace app on arrival, use the hand sanitiser and one-way system. They can also order via our app.”

Having grown up with a farming heritage, Will, who has worked for Michelin-starred chefs including Marcus Wareing andTom Aikens, uses locally sourced ingredients. The pub’s links to the fishing industry means its signature seafood specials appear daily on the chalk board. Said Will: “We only buy a few portions of the best of that day’s catch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. But if you have a special request and it’s in season, we’ll source it if with 48 hours’ notice.”

The menu features traditional pub classics and local dishes such as Yorkshire cheese fritters, steamed mussels, fish and chips and syrup sponge with ‘Proper Custard’. Sunday roasts are served with trimmings from local farmers and during the game season there’s a plentiful selection on the menu.

The traditional tap room serves local ales including Timothy Taylor, Ilkley Brewery and Black Sheep.

“Because the pub was closed for almost a year, we’ve given it a mega clean inside and out so the tap room, restaurant and function room are back to looking their best,” said Hywel. “Because of Covid measures, we’ve had to reduce tables inside and add screens between tables. However, we’ve increased outdoor seating on our terrace.”

He’s thrilled by the positive reaction since re-opening last week: “We’ve been really busy and can’t thank our guests enough for their encouraging comments.”

The last word goes to Betty who celebrated the re-opening with a glass of champagne and a plate of lamb cutlets prepared by her grandson. “Will showed so much interest in cooking as a boy and was always keen to learn from me,” said Betty. “He’s worked so hard in London and abroad to learn his craft, and now he’s head chef at The Fleece - it’s everything I could have wished for. It was a thrill to see so many guests enjoying his food. His lamb cutlets get my thumbs up.”

* The Fleece, 152-154 Main Street, Addingham, Ilkley. Visit