WELCOME to Meet the Chef - a new T&A feature where we put the spotlight on leading culinary figures at restaurants and bistros across the district.

Today we meet Brayden Davies - the new Head Chef at The Box Tree in Ilkley.

Australian-born Brayden, now living in Skipton, has taken the reins of the internationally renowned restaurant, bringing “a refined and more modern approach” to the kitchen. He is introducing influences from his Australian roots, along with local ingredients, and has been involved with designing the new, state-of-the art kitchen at The Box Tree; the refit includes a Japanese Kasai grill, and the pastry section has moved into the main kitchen so all the chefs work closely under Brayden’s direction.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Brayden at work in the kitchen Brayden at work in the kitchen (Image: The Box Tree)

Chris Stapleton, The Box Tree General Manager, says: “Brayden brings a fresh vibrancy to The Box Tree. Having honed his skills in prestigious kitchens in the UK and across the world, he brings an innovative approach to classic cuisine and a dedication to sourcing the finest seasonal ingredients.”

* Brayden, when did you become interested in food and cooking? “My love of cooking stemmed from Home Economics at school. Then, when I was 18 and travelling around Europe, I decided to eat at my first ever Michelin starred restaurant: The 2 Michelin Starred Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin. I made my booking and went alone. It was an extraordinary experience and the team were friendly and welcoming, especially when I admitted that I was an aspiring trainee chef. It’s probably this experience which kickstarted my love of all things Michelin.”

* Where did you learn your craft? “I’ve spent more than 11 years in kitchens in Australia and here in the UK. My aim is to bring an innovative approach to classic cuisine and a dedication to sourcing the finest seasonal ingredients.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Yorkshire Rhubarb with malt and local ricotta is one of Brayden's new dishes Yorkshire Rhubarb with malt and local ricotta is one of Brayden's new dishes (Image: The Box Tree)

I’ve worked in four Michelin-starred restaurants - most recently as right-hand man to Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall and prior to that at Raby Hunt, Northcote Manor, and the Angel at Hetton.”

* What do you love about being Head Chef? “Having the opportunity to work closely with Shaun Rankin for more than two years inspired me to take the next step and run my own kitchen and build a strong team. I love the challenge of new, seasonal menu creation, it gives me the opportunity to work closely with our growing band of local, specialist suppliers. I love inspiring the younger chefs working alongside me here.”

* How many staff work in the kitchen. Is it a challenge to co-ordinate them all? “We’re a close-knit team of five. I find it extremely easy to manage and, in a short amount of time, we’ve become like a family. I’ve worked closely with all the staff, training new and existing team members. It was ideal that I was on board to help create and plan the new kitchen redevelopment.”

* What are your favourite cookery programmes? “Back in the day, I watched Chef’sTable on Netflix. Today, Great British Menu is the only show I watch on a regular basis. From time to time I take a peek at Master Chef the Professionals.”

* Did you watch Boiling Point? How does it compare with a real restaurant kitchen? “I expect a lot of chefs watched Boiling Point. Sometimes we suggest to younger chefs to take a look at how it used to be - but it’s simply not relevant in today’s kitchens.”

* What are your ambitions? “I’m keen to get to know all the restaurant’s guests - our regular diners and some new faces. I’m delighted to be taking the helm and making my own mark on the history of this iconic restaurant. The new menu has a more modern twist, and I’m excited to combine my different cooking styles with the rich heritage the restaurant is renowned for. Longstanding diners, as well as new customers, will receive the attention to detail they should expect from a premium restaurant. I pride myself on knowing all our suppliers, to ensure the ingredients we use are of the finest quality.

“Ultimately, I’m aiming to ensure that The Box Tree features on the map not only in Yorkshire, but nationally. Its unique heritage combined with my modern style of food is well worth a visit. The Box Tree boasts an unquestionable reputation for exquisite cuisine and a commitment to delivering a truly memorable dining experience. The fact that it was the first and only Michelin starred restaurant outside London in 1962 is an incredible piece of history to follow.”

* Do you specialise in anything? “Eleven years in, I’m pretty much an all-rounder. If I have a specialism, it’s meat cookery; creating sauces to pair with each one.”

* Describe your food at The Box Tree. “I’m bringing a refined, more modern approach, introducing subtle influences from my Australian roots, including finger limes, macadamia nuts and truffles (seasonal), as well as locally foraged ingredients.”

* How does it feel when diners send compliments to the chef? “The feedback so far has been incredible, we’re looking forward to many more people experiencing the next generation of The Box Tree. It’s great to take people’s views on the menu, we feed this into our thinking as we’re working on spring dishes.”

* Which chefs have inspired you? “Our great county has some excellent talent who I admire. From Michael O’Hare and Tommy Banks to one of this year’s Michelin winners, Josh Hoverington. And most recently Shaun, who’s been an outstanding mentor.”

* What’s your favourite meal and in an ideal world who would cook it? “This would have to be Brett Graham of three Michelin Star Ledbury fame, cooking a rack of venison with a rich berry sauce.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Box Tree was the first Michelin-starred restaurant outside London The Box Tree was the first Michelin-starred restaurant outside London (Image: The Box Tree)

* One of Ilkley’s oldest buildings, The Box Tree was originally a farmhouse dating from 1720. Home to a generation of gentleman farmers from Denton, it was bought by businessman Septimus Wray, owner of Bridge House Gardens. In the late 19th century box trees were first planted in the front garden and it became known as Box Tree House. It was later an antique shop and a tearoom before it was opened as a restaurant in 1962 by Malcolm Reid and Colin Long. With two Michelin stars to its name, The Box Tree featured in all good food guides, with renowned chefs Michael Truelove, Simon Gueller, Edward Denny and Marco Pierre White each making their mark on the menus.

* The Box Tree, Church Street, Ilkley. Tel. (01943) 608484. Visit theboxtree.co.uk

* If you are a restaurant, cafe, bistro or pub in the Bradford district and would like us to feature your chef in our new regular Meet the Chef series, please get in touch by emailing emma.clayton@nqyne.co.uk or helen.mead@nqyne.co.uk